Three frogs were sitting on a log in the middle of a rushing river. One decided to jump in. How many frogs were left? Answer: three. He made the decision to jump, but he did not commit to the action.
-- Unknown author
The message of this simple metaphor is clear. Our mental decisions must be coupled with action. Often, however, we self-defeat by procrastinating, perhaps indefinitely, and thus we never complete the task at hand. Or we attack it at the last minute and do a less than satisfying job. Several keys to decision-making exist.
First, the importance of courage cannot be overemphasized. We must look within our selves for the kernel of courage that will move us forward. Decisions require courage because we do not know the outcome in advance. Significant change often means facing an uncertain end and dealing with our deep sense of wanting to remain in stasis without exerting ourselves – a comfort zone that may be hard to leave.
A true decision means that we will do everything possible to make it happen. We must stop our hoping, wishing, wanting, and non-commitment that hold us back. Furthermore, we must go beyond the idea of just playing at it to see what happens, just trying. As Yoda in Star Wars said, “No! Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try.” This means going to any length and using every possible advantage to implement our decision.
A core belief that affects decision-making concerns our worthiness. We must make an internal decision that we are worthy of successful living, positive self-esteem, good feelings, and a life that thrives. The critical decision in life is to decide to come to our own assistance.
There are many reasons why people do not intercede on their own behalf. Perhaps family messages discounted their abilities or self-worth, and they keep having problems as they fulfill the family injunction not to be successful. Some seek comfort in their dreams rather than gain satisfaction from their accomplishments. Perhaps they are paralyzed by fear, either of failure or of total success. They might wither under their own perfectionism. They think that if they cannot do something perfectly, it is not worth doing. Whatever the issue, they live in the improbable and ignore obvious consequences of their inaction. We must cultivate the willingness and drive to come to our own assistance.
Feelings often get in the way of action. Unfortunately, many of us are victims of our emotions. We place greater faith in how we feel now than in moving forward with our lives and enjoying feelings of satisfaction, fulfillment, peace, and self-worth. We spend more time either whining or planning that actual doing!
Finally, some of our decisions and plans are too grandiose or even impossible to complete. We must be grounded in reality and consider how probable success might be. It is better to set up small action steps and make incremental changes that are well within the realm of possibility.
A useful way of dealing with this issue is to think about the times when you followed through on a decision and had some success. Write these down, and identify how you felt in each circumstance. On a scale of 1 to 5, identify how much courage you think it took to work through each decision. Note what positive affects your action had on your life. This exercise reminds us of precedents related to taking action in our lives that we can use for motivation.
A good method for addressing a decision is to list the following information and think about it in relation to your vision for your life:
1. What is the decision you have made?
2. What actions or steps are required to implement the decision?
3. When will you complete the actions/steps (be specific)?
4. What will be the positive effect on your life when you finish?
5. What issues could stop you from completing your goal?
6. What are the indicators of success that you will have when done?
7. How much courage do you think it will take to do it? Remember, you have access to all the courage you need!
8. What positive feeling will you have as a result of your action?
You should also prioritize your decisions and actions you want to take. Attacking the highest priority actions first can make the overall picture less overwhelming. As you determine the steps toward your goal, keep them small and do-able. Success is easier to achieve in small increments.
Clearly, the awakening man understands this simple process. He uses his courage and will to strive toward successful living by making decisions and following through with action. He is compelled to succeed. He is dedicated not just to survival, but also to his dreams of a better life.
Will you use the turn of the New Year to develop and implement decisions that will benefit your life? What is your commitment to wholeness in mind, body, and spirit? How will you find the courage to move forward? When will you stop thinking and planning and start doing?