We live in a society that tells us to “live in the here and now” and to “be present.” These sayings are great for many things. They remind us to be attentive with our family and friends, and to not overlook the moment and let it pass by so quickly. But, this mindset can also be harmful. What happens when “living in the moment” causes you to make decisions that negatively affect your future?
We are all guilty of it. You make a choice in the moment that seems like it is what you want. But then down the road you look back and realize it moved you further away from your desired future.
How does that happen? How does a decision that seemed so good at the time turn out to be wrong? What is it that we missed when making the decision?
There is a disconnect between what we want when it is presented to us, and what we truly want. One is easy. It’s right in front of us ready to be taken. The other is much harder. It takes planning and precise decision making over a long term. The best things in life don’t happen in a moment, and they aren’t easy. They aren’t things that can be microwaved. They take time. They take planning.
Want to have a successful relationship? It takes hard work and smart decision making. Want to have a successful business? It takes hard work and smart decision making. Repeat this phrase for anything you truly want in life.
So many times though we seem to sabotage ourselves by making choices that move us further away from our desires, rather than closer to them. We talk ourselves out of the decision we know we should make by saying one of the following things to ourselves:
- Just this time. Just this time I’ll eat the cookie, but from now on I’ll have willpower. Just this time I’ll put this item on my credit card, but then I’ll start paying down my debt again. Etc.
- I’ll do it tomorrow. The problem is that tomorrow never comes. We can only live “today” so we constantly trick ourselves into pushing things off.
- Today is already shot. I already made a decision that went against my goal today, so why not just write the day off as a failure? One more bad decision won’t be that bad, I can start over fresh tomorrow. (Re-read saying #2)
Any of those sound familiar? I bet they do. We all say things that are similar. The problem with each of these sayings are that they build up momentum in the wrong direction. Have you ever said “I’ll do it tomorrow”…. every day for like a week? Maybe even longer. I sure have. It can snowball quickly.
So what can you do? There has to be a way to make better decisions more often, right?
The key to making decisions that move you towards your desired outcome, rather than away from it is to make decisions that support your goals. Do you have goals? Written goals? If not you need to take some time to read 5 Steps to Setting Effective Goals and develop your goals for the year.
When you are focused on and passionate about achieving your goals, you make decisions that support them. If you have a goal to lose 15lbs in the next 3 months you will have an easier time picking the apple over the cookie. If you have the goal to make an extra $30,000 this year you will have an easier time waking up early rather than hitting the snooze button a few times. So how do we become more focused and more passionate about our goals?
I believe that there are 3 very simple steps:
- Know your goals by heart. Where your focus goes, energy flows. Make your goals a focus and you will begin to act in ways that support them. Review your goals often (I recommend every day).
- Ask the question “Does this move me closer to my goal?” Get in the habit of asking yourself this question all the time. No matter how big the decision is that you are about to make, ask yourself this question first. You would be surprised how often this will change your mind and help you make decisions that support your goals. If you can’t answer yes to this question, DON’T DO IT!
- Give yourself grace. You will not always make the right decision. Thats ok, you’re not perfect. Accept that you will sometimes give in to the wrong decision. The key is to move past it, don’t write off the whole day just because you made one wrong decision at 8 am.
It doesn’t take much, but it does require that you are intentional. Goals, no matter how big or small, can be achieved with focused actions. Don’t become a victim of “death by a thousand cuts.” As Jon Acuff says in his book Start, you are going to say the phrase “How did I get here?” or “How did I get here!” many times in your life. Choosing to take intentional actions will result in that question ending in an exclamation point a lot more often than it ends in a question mark.