Every day we each make hundreds of seemingly tiny decisions. Yet with each thing we say YES to, we are saying NO to many other options. Most decisions have very little impact on our day-to-day lives. Often, we can only see the cumulative result of hundreds of tiny decisions in retrospect. These many decisions take us firmly down a path where going back to a pivotal point would take significant effort.
I learned this lesson most clearly when recovering from my divorce. At first, I was the victim of what had been done to me – and I stayed mired in a negative cycle that seemed unbreakable. It was only when I began to look, and take responsibility, for my part of our split, that I saw the varied ways both of us had made choices that took us further from each other. Healing required that I owned my choices and the subsequent consequences.
This doesn’t only happen in relationships. Each day we select our attitude, the tasks we prioritize or procrastinate, and what we agree to do or not do. Each choice sets us in a direction. Enough choices in a single direction and we have set a trajectory for the next phase of our life.
Sometimes this awareness leads to a kind of analysis paralysis – the fear that making the wrong decision will create unstoppable ripples into a future that may not be desirable. While awareness is helpful, paralysis is at least as damaging as making a misstep or two. What, then, should be done to result in living aligned with your purpose and goals, even in tiny decisions?
1 – Create clarity about your general direction and make sure that you spend a few minutes each day focusing on the big picture result you are working to achieve. Awareness of where you want to end up (from a high-level perspective) helps you stay on track.
2 – When making decisions, ask yourself if there is any aspect of this decision that is not aligned with your goal(s). Often, taking just a moment to check in will bring you clarity so you can move forward confidently.
3 – Understand that sometimes you take a detour that seems like the wrong direction but ultimately turns out to be the best thing that ever happened. Maybe this job doesn’t work out but you pick up a great skill set that opens the door to an even better opportunity.
4 – Own the things that you have control over (mostly your choices) and let go of the things you have no ability to change. It is easy to invest massive amounts of energy in stewing over what others are choosing with absolutely no ability to make any difference in the situation.
With so many decisions in front of us every day, sometimes the best thing we can do is make our choices one small step at a time. Realize that when you feel overwhelmed and stop making choices, that too is a choice in itself. You’re never not making decisions about your life. Having clarity, keeping your goals in mind, and having patience with yourself are key to heading down the best path for your future.
Charlise Latour a business coach and owner of Accelerate Your Success. She works with each client to determine what their goals are and create a plan so they can achieve them. She is actively involved in Dancing & Singing With The King which raises money to promote dance education including working with local schools to offer dance classes during the school day. This is a natural fit as she is an avid ballroom dancer.