Monday, October 15, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Some decisions are harder to make than others.  Captain Obvious strikes again! That is a "Duh" statement.... Of course some decisions are harder to make than others. The majority of our decisions aren't so hard, however.  Quite frankly, we make some of our decisions harder than they need to be.

Think about streamlining your decision making and simplifying things for yourself. It's easier if you base your decisions on a few non-negotiables.  Here are a few of mine and how they play into my decision making:

Do the right thing no matter what.

Sometimes, this can be as simple as getting up and getting a shower.  Sometimes, for me, it means make dinner for the family even when I don't feel like it.  Or clean the bathroom even if I don't feel like it. Other times this can mean defending someone who has been or is being wronged. This always means being honest. Just last week, my son and his wife enjoyed a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant.  When the bill came, my son noticed it was $15.00 short.  He immediately told the waiter and had it corrected, even though it would have saved him $15.00 to keep quiet.  He acted on principle, not on convenience for himself. He did the right thing. This was not a hard decision for him; it was a given. Acting on principle and not emotion or convenience gives clarity to decision making, taking the mystery and confusion out of some decisions. And you'll sleep better at night.

Put others first.

This is always a good idea. When we put others first, we can often see the right decision better than we can if we are constantly focused on ourselves. It's amazing how putting others first ends up helping our decisions fall into place. It gives us an unselfish motive and we become genuinely more concerned for another person than ourselves. This shows in our decisions; this shows in our lives. Part of this is realizing the decisions we make affect others and not just ourselves. No one is an island unto him or herself. When we decide to build someone up, it affects the person we're building up as well as others who hear. On the other hand, when  we decide to gossip, it affects the person we're gossiping about for sure, but it also affects the person we're gossiping to. They are dragged down and often left wondering what we're saying about them behind their backs. Building someone up actually makes your character shine and you'll look better than one who beats people down. Maya Anjelou said people rarely remember what you say, but they do remember how you treated them. This is a good thing to remember.

Act, Don't React

Every day is filled with things we can react to.  We can get so caught up in our reactions that we fail to act on our own plans, motivations and, well, decisions. Acting on life, rather than reacting to it, is a great way to help focus and make rational decisions. When we are being reactionary, we can't make rational decisions because we're too focused on either defending ourselves or feeling burdened by whatever it is we're reacting to. Acting on principle takes away the urge to react to things, giving clarity. I remember once when we were visiting a family in our church and their young daughter came up behind me and put her hamster on my shoulder.  I think she, and her family watching, expected a reaction.  You can be sure, I was unnerved and certainly did not want a hamster on my shoulder.  What I did next surprised her entire family, however. Instead of screaming and running away, I looked at the hamster, then calmly moved my eyes to this young girl's face and, without raising my voice, said to her, "Rodent on my shoulder.....never a good idea."  She immediately removed the hamster and never did that again. (I can't say I would have had such a controlled response had she put a spider on my shoulder, however!) Acting on your own, internal principles instead of reacting to things and people around you is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself and this practice will give you decision-making clarity.

Take Responsibility for your Choices

Even if you make the wrong decision and have to endure consequences, take responsibility for those choices, learn from them and don't fall into a pattern of blaming others. When you know internally that you own your decisions, you will be more likely to take your time in making them, thus avoiding negative consequences as much as possible. Taking responsibility and owning decisions is a key trait of successful people.  Instead of blaming others and acting as though they had no choice but to react to something, successful people own their decisions, good or bad, and learn from them.

So, there are a few things which help me make decisions.  This list is not exclusive to leaning on the Word of God, acknowledging the LORD in all I say and do (Proverb 3:5&6), but that's a "given" with me and what all these other things stem from.

Happy Monday!  May your decisions benefit others all throughout this coming week.

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