There is a general tendency to look at highly successful people and assume they have had an easy time of it. Outwardly, it appears their path to success was a straight line, from the bottom to the top without interruption. For those who have fallen from grace or squandered and lost fortunes, their path appears to lead straight down, suddenly, from dizzying heights to a rocky bottom.
Both of these scenarios have something in common. The pathway to success is never straight and neither is the road to ruin.
Every day we are each presented with a multitude of choices. Do I go left or right, say yes or no, buy or don’t but, stay or leave, agree or disagree, eat this or avoid that, exercise or not?
Some of these choices seem small and insignificant while others seem to carry a good deal of weight. Most of us trivialize the small stuff and worry, fret and sweat over the big stuff. I say most because some seem to agonize more over the smallest decisions while ignoring life’s big picture items.
Whether we feel a choice is small or large is a matter of perception more than reality, because our picture of the world is always incomplete. And while we may feel in control of ourselves and what will happen when we choose, we can never know the final outcome of our choice in advance and we can never control the actions of others.
Even the smallest decisions can have huge consequences of which we are unaware. Or, our biggest decisions can turn out to have little consequence in the grand scheme of things. One thing is certain, all of our decisions have consequences.
A choice as small as coming to a stop or speeding on through a yellow light, when no one coming from either side, puts us in a different frame of reference in the natural flow of time. In one instance you arrive at your destination one minute later, in the other instance you arrive one minute earlier. Subsequently, either decision will present a completely different set of circumstances with a completely different set of choices as a result of your choice.
What happens to us isn’t just about the decisions we make, it also about the decisions everyone around us will make. Every decision, no matter how large or small they may seem or whether the choice is ours or someone else’s, sets us on a different path on our journey and each path is infinitely strewn with decision branch points.
How does this relate to whether or not we are successful in our pursuit of happiness? Whether we succeed in a big way, fail in a big way or something in between, it will be the sum total of the choices we make.
I believe there is a way in life to increase the likelihood of success and reduce the risk of failure, however you wish to define each of those two terms. It’s not about the how or when or what for each of your choices. It’s more about why you make the choices you make. Understanding the why makes the choosing more intuitive for a better outcome.
No matter how large or how small a decision may seem, if your goal is to be successful and happy, to avoid burnout, failure and ruin, here are 9 questions to consider when presented with choices in life.
1. Which choice will move me, my relationships or my business forward? Forward is always the best direction.
2. Which choice will help the most people? Mostly helping others helps ourselves the most.
3. Will one of my choices cause anyone harm which can be avoided? Sometimes the truth can be hurtful to someone initially but helpful to them in the long run. Always make sure the decision is in their favor and not yours personally.
4. What is the risk/reward potential for each choice? We should take calculated risks but avoid foolhardy impulsiveness.
5. Which choice will harm me emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually? We help ourselves best when we avoid harming ourselves first.
6. Which choice would help me to grow the most as a person? Is one option more like fertilizer and the other more like plant poison?
7. Who is trying to influence my choices and why? Are others motives in alignment with my goals?
8. Which choice in most closely aligned with my core values? Core value guided decision making will prevent many a bad decision and undesirable outcome. (Download a FREE Core Values Inventory by signing up in the upper right of the screen.)
9. Are their more options available to me than I realize? Taking the time to gather as much information as possible will make decisions easier by making your choices more clear by contrast.
Asking yourself these questions before making any decision will never eliminate all mistakes, prevent all bad outcomes or meet with success 100% of the time. What it will do is put the odds of taking the zig-zag path to success in your favor while helping you to avoid the zig-zag road to ruin.
If your life isn’t what you expect, have you stopped to question your decision making? Are you making decisions which move you toward your goals or away from them? If the answer is away from them, why?
Originally Published on Clark Gaither
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