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Got Decisions? 6 Tips to Harness Their Power

Got Decisions? 6 Tips to Harness Their Power

If you want to direct your life, you have to take control of the consistent actions you take. It’s not what you do once in a while that shapes your life. It’s what you do consistently. So we need to find out what comes prior to our actions. What influences the actions we take, and therefore, the life we live?

What’s the answer?

The power of decision.

Everything that’s happened in your life, both the good and the bad, has started with a decision. These moments of decision shape your life. The decisions you’re making every day of your life will determine how you feel today and who you are tomorrow.

We all have decisions that we can look back on and either be thrilled that we made, or wonder “What was I thinking?” There are decisions you could have made differently that would have made your life completely different than it is today. You could have changed careers, or failed to change careers. You could have moved, gotten married, had kids, or purchased a home. Maybe you decided to start a business or start exercising. Maybe you decided to start or stop drinking or smoking. Think about how your decisions have impacted your life.

Success comes from long term focus. Picture the challenges in your personal life. Whether it’s overeating, drinking, smoking, drugs, or spending problems – they come from a short term focus. Success doesn’t just happen. The life experience we call success comes from the small, daily decisions in which you choose to hold yourself to a higher standard and take control instead of having the environment take control of you.

1. Realize how powerful decisions are

Decisions are a tool available to you that can change your entire life. Deciding and taking action creates the momentum necessary to produce drastic changes to your life in the shortest amount of time.

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Your life is merely the result of what you’ve done differently than other people that are in the same situation. Your actions have produced different results than your friends, neighbors, and loved ones, but why? Because the actions you take are the starting points needed to move you in a clear direction.

The minute you make a decision, you’ve set your life in a new direction. You literally have the power to change in an instant if you decide to. The next time you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, decide to change it. Don’t just sit there and take it. For you to really make a decision, action must follow.

2. Commit to your decisions

What’s the difference in being curious about something and being committed to it? How many times do we hear people say “I’d like to have a new car,” or “I’d like to make more money,” or “I’d like follow my dreams?” Merely stating goals you’d like to do accomplish isn’t the same as committing to them. Just being interested in something while taking no action is not how progress happens. To achieve you must commit.

You may think “I think I could change, but I don’t know how.” That is fear talking. The fear that you don’t know exactly how to make it happen. The fear that you haven’t researched every possible outcome and planned for every possible scenario. If you listen to this fear you’ll never end up deciding on anything. You’ll never start. What most people don’t realize is that you don’t need to plan out every possible detail to change your life. The reality is that you will find a way.

Here’s a streamlined formula:

1. Decide what you want
2. Take action
3. Notice what’s working or not
4. Change your strategy until you achieve what you want

If you follow these steps you’ll create the momentum necessary to achieve what you want. As soon as you’re completely committed, you will find a way.

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Deciding is often much more difficult than committing. Get clear on what you want and decide. Don’t waste too much time analyzing and deliberating. If you’re clear on your values, you’ll be able to decide quickly and change your mind very rarely, if at all. Compare that to people that are usually unsuccessful; they take forever to make decisions and change their mind quickly. A decision is information acted upon.

You can change your life as soon as you’ve decided to fully commit to change; as soon as you stop taking no for answer; as soon as you stop accepting any other outcome.

Making a true decision is cutting off all other possibilities. Making a decision means a complete commitment to achieving a desired result, then burning the boat you sailed in on.

3. Make decisions often

Unsuccessful people make decisions based on their current situation. Successful people make decisions based on where they want to be.

Repetition is the mother of skill. So in order to make better decisions, we simply have to make more of them. Make decisions, learn from them, and keep what works. Learning to make better decisions is like any other skill you’ve learned; the more you do it, the better you get. When you get better at making decisions you’ll look forward to making them, embrace them, and will see them as a way to take your life to the next level.

The power of decisions can change your relationships, your career, your physical state, and your emotional state. It can determine whether you’re just reacting to your environment or taking control. It can determine whether you’re excited or miserable. It can determine whether you feel free or enslaved.

The more decisions you make, the better and more comfortable you get making them. Harness the power of decision by deciding on something you’ve been putting off. Often just deciding on something relieves a lot of stress. You’ll be surprised at how energized you feel.

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4. Learn from your decisions

To make progress you must decide not only what results you’re committed to achieving, but also who you’re committing to becoming. If you’re familiar with my content, you’ve heard me talk about raising your standards. Your personal standards determine what type of behavior you think is acceptable for both yourself and those around you. Establishing minimum standards for what you’ll accept in your life prevents you from falling back into your old limiting ways. You must raise your standards and stick to them. No matter what hardships and tragedies arise.

When the inevitable happens and you make the wrong decision, don’t beat yourself up. Just ask yourself “What’s positive about this? What can I learn from this? How can I turn this around?” The simple gift of feeling like you failed may be exactly what you need to make better decisions in the future. Don’t focus on the short term. Find the lessons to be learned.

5. Stay committed, but stay flexible

The moment you make a true decision to lose weight, that’s it. You will. Your perception of everything changes. Food becomes fuel and exercise becomes a must. When you get off the fence and commit to a decision, you’ll feel an enormous amount of relief.

This kind of clarity is essential. Clarity gives you the power to produce what you really want in life. Most of us are stretched so thin these days that we never really make committed decisions anymore. We’ve forgotten what it feels like to make a true decision.

Often when I talk to people about their weight loss progress, they’ll describe an extremely rigid plan in which they have to follow. But if you asked these same people to design a diet plan for their friend, they’d never recommend what they’re doing. If weight loss is your goal, then the end is what you’re after, not the means. Don’t lock yourself into an unbending routine in which you feel like you’re slacking if you don’t follow it completely. Chances are you designed this routine after a well-rested weekend anyway. You’re making things much harder on yourself if you close your mind off to alternate routes.

6. Have fun making decisions

Decisions can be a source of both relentless problems and incredible happiness. Decisions can be a source of both amazing opportunity and shocking disappointment.

The greatest thing about the power of decision is that you already have the ability to use it. The power of decision isn’t only for a select few. It’s available to you as soon as you summon the courage to use it. Will today be the day you decide your finished holding yourself back? Will today be the day you decide to put your life on a path consistent with your dreams? Ask yourself “Who am I?” “What do I want out of life?” “What am I going to do?” “What will I let stop me?”

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Look forward to making decisions because at any moment you can make one that’ll change your life forever. The next book you read, website you visit, movie you watch, song your listen to, or person you stand next to at the checkout line could be the event that causes something to click. If you really want to enjoy life, you have to expect things to come together for you.

Conclusion

You may be skeptical. You may be thinking “Of course I’d like to change, but I have real problems in my life.” Of course you do, but we all have to start somewhere. What matters is where you’re determined to finish. Ask yourself “What could I do with my life if I was certain I couldn’t fail?”

One of the most beautiful and liberating truths I’ve ever realized is that we all have the power to turn our lives into an inspiring example to others. If you make the right decisions – focusing on the long term and not the environment – you can direct not only who and what is in your life, but who you become.

My challenge to you

Decide to learn a new skill, treat people different, make the call you’ve been avoiding, pursue an education, or change careers. Instead of resisting or making excuses (which is in itself a decision), do you think you could decide to take your life to the next level? Do you think you’d be happier, have more fun, or find peace? Do you think you’d build your confidence and self-esteem? You didn’t have to read this to know the answer is yes!

Featured photo credit: Noelle Buske via flickr.com

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Bob Dempsey

Psychology Major

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Last Updated on November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger, or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master the gentle art of saying no.

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

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For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word[1].

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss—they’re our boss, right? And if we start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

In fact, it’s the opposite—explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

“Look, everyone, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects, and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

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8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, try saying no this way:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

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Saying no the healthy way

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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