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One of the great sources of agony and failure, I believe, is the unwillingness to make decisions briskly and stick with them.
If you scroll down and look at the "Previous Articles" section at the bottom of this post, you'll see that I've written about decision-making repeatedly.
I come back to the topic here for two reasons:
1. The practice of making smart, fast, durable decisions will change your life.
2. I need to remind myself to do this.
So let's work on this together.
If your inbox is cluttered, that's the sign that decisions have been avoided. You may think you're merely postponing those decisions, but the real point is that you're averting your gaze from something that needs to be handled. It's the same with your junk drawer, your big box of receipts, or your messy garage (I'm guilty of that one).
And do you ever sit through a long business meeting that goes nowhere? In my experience, it always happens because decisions aren't being made.
By contrast, you'll unclutter that inbox as soon as you start making crisp decisions -- even arbitrary ones -- about how you're going to deal with the items there. Just keeping repeating "Decide . . . decide . . ." to yourself as you go through each message. File it, answer it, delete it, delegate it, or whatever -- but handle it in the present tense.
And the next time you're in one of those terrible meetings, speak up and say, "So what decision needs to be made?" and then "Who needs to make it?" and then "So what's the decision here?" See if you can't gently force the issue so that everyone isn't stuck there, sitting on top of a logjam.
You say you want to lose weight? Awesome. Now show yourself that you do -- reinforce that priority -- with the next 20 decisions you make about what you eat or how you exercise.
You want to eliminate your debt? Perfect. Hammer home that message, for yourself and those around you, by making a hundred tiny decisions that underline your commitment to financial responsibility. That's how you distance yourself from the old habits that got you in trouble in the first place.
I don't have to decide whether to smoke a cigarette today because (thank goodness) I decided when I was a kid that I never would. Since my family and friends also didn't smoke, that decision was easier for me to make -- but the point is that one decision has saved me lots of time and energy (and improved my health) over 25+ years.
You can do the same thing with other decisions that save you grief by simplifying your approach to your finances, your fitness, your family's happiness, and so on:
* "I've decided not to spend money at restaurants."
* "I've decided not to eat sweets."
* "I've decided to get some exercise every day, even if it's just 10 minutes of stretching or a walk around the block."
* "I've decided to sit down to dinner with my family -- no TV, no interruptions -- at least four nights each week."
The great thing is, making these decisions takes very little time. You don't need to think over the implications of getting at least a little exercise every day, because you already know it's a good idea. Boom! Make the decision and stick with it. And you know that avoiding sweets is good for your blood sugar and your waistline. Boom! Decision made.
Make a decision now and get the ball rolling. Keep it simple, my friends.
The relief of making fewer decisions
Automate Your Financial Decisions
Make a Decision to Kill Clutter
Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro living in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.
Follow Tim on Twitter; @Twalk