Whether you feel it best to simply avoid them, live in frustration because of them or view them as an opportunity to shine, decisions are a necessary part of life. Though some parents (and supervisors) try to protect others from the consequences of poor choices by catching them before they fall – preventing them from experiencing any negative ramifications by insulating them from failure – nobody is completely isolated from the decision-making process. Some may wish they had a map that would provide a definitive route upon which to travel but the road to change is fraught with danger. Others would like a detailed instruction sheet so that they know that the actions they ultimately take have a high likelihood of succeeding – preferring to act in ways that would guarantee predictable and consistent results rather than potentially significant rewards if a chance of devastating loss might also be present. A select few, however, view each decision that faces them as an opportunity to choose which road to take, what path to follow, when to climb (or circumvent) a mountain as they celebrate the chance to act intentionally and exercise independent judgment to accomplish new and different things.
There are as many approaches to making decisions in life as there are people living it – and therein lies the problem. Since no two people are alike, no two decisions will be alike, either. There are very few absolutely “correct answers” to a question (though some may be better than others) NOR is any one answer completely wrong (as each solution presents different variables towards the resolution of an issue). Regardless of the situation, the level of disruption or magnitude of change required, any intentional action taken is better than inaction or unintentional action that results in unintended consequences. Reviewing and refining the possible actions we could take prior to acting helps to minimize risk and maximize success but far too often individuals delay their actions by dwelling upon why they should not act rather than considering why they should. A fulfilled and worthwhile life is truly the ongoing result of what we choose to do and the actions we take (or intentionally choose NOT to do or take).
Making solid decisions that result in life-changing experiences requires careful consideration, intelligent planning and intentional action. Most successful individuals establish rules they use to hold themselves accountable for their actions (or their intentional lack of action) so that progress can be monitored and modifications implemented along the way rather than waiting until a destination is reached only to find that it is not where they wanted to go. While everyone lives by some set of values and ethics, some of the rules that provide the “highest return on investment” in the decision-making process would include:
· It is OK and natural to dislike parts of any job, situation or relationship. It is NOT OK to avoid, refuse to do, or ignore the parts you dislike – or to discuss openly your dissatisfaction with others not having a need to know your opinion. We accomplish much more when we move forward with a positive attitude than we do if complaining as we go about things we cannot influence or control. Good decisions are the result of intentional disruptions or informed conformity.
· It is OK to make a mistake but not OK to repeat the same mistake. Everyone that makes decisions will make their share of wrong decisions. You have probably never initiated action if you are never wrong. Most prefer that every choice they make would lead them to prosperity BUT it is OK to make a wrong decision on occasion as long as a lesson was learned. Learn from your errors, using them as a springboard to leap forward when making decisions based on firm principles and reasonable information. People will usually work with you – help you make intelligent decisions) – as long as you continue to show measurable progress or the ability (and willingness) to grow.
· Focus on things you can control rather than worrying about those you cannot. Identify obstacles that are within your sphere of influence so you can remove them and act accordingly. Actively seek to eliminate the hurdles that are outside of your control by giving them up to someone having the ability to influence or change them.
· Lying, cheating, or stealing is intolerable if one expects to be valued or respected during the decision making process. If you are the best performer or individual with the highest results – but those results came through dishonesty or at someone else’s expense – you will not be respected, credible NOR working (or participating in an ongoing relationship) for very long. It is always more profitable (but much harder) to elevate others and bring ourselves along than to raise ourselves and expect others to grab on as we pass them by.
· Results are recognized – effort is merely a means to the end. Do not seek praise for working hard or contributing greatly – recognition will follow the successful completion of objectives (and will be given to all involved).
· All individuals may speak, question, and have a voice in any decision but that does not mean all votes are equal. Life is not a democracy. Input is valued but the individual responsible for the ultimate success of any endeavor must make (and live with the results of) the final decision. Do not confuse “equal” with “equitable” as you live life – nor a democracy with efficiency.
· Nothing is impossible in life. While some solutions may not be cost-effective, are seemingly impractical or beyond our ability to implement, “I cannot,” “It is not possible,” and other self-defeating attitudes should not be allowed to enter (or rule) our lives. Well thought-out solutions to issues you may encounter while doing your job (or during life in general) are not reasons for celebration, they are simply expectations of the way you should continually exhibit and utilize your abilities while striving for new decision, actions or solutions.
Everyone comes to a fork in the road – a decision point that forever changes what they have done or where they are going – redirecting all efforts and activities towards the accomplishment of what has yet to materialize. Do not walk blindly upon an uncharted path or you may end up missing a turn and becoming helplessly lost within an impossible maze – unable to find an end OR return to the beginning for a fresh start. Establish the rules YOU choose to live by then keep them close to you, guiding your steps and actions as you consciously and intentionally decide to act AND act to implement your decisions.