The Secret To Making Life Decisions

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped”
– Anthony Robbins

Take any two people, place them in the same circumstances, give them the same tools and the same advantages and disadvantages – and still one will be more successful than the other – based on the decisions they make in their life.

Indecision Kills

Do you know what I’ve found to be one of the biggest productivity and life dream killers? Indecision.  Indecision can lead to metawork,  lower confidence that you’ll succeed – and often, indecision leads to endless procrastination – a perpetual state where we continue to put the decision off until finally, we’re relieved of the responsibility by it simply being too late to take any action.

Don’t let the world “default” you into not living your own life.

It is no exaggeration to say indecision will literally kill chances you may have.  Put the decision off too long, and you will lose the chance to make that decision and act forever.

Opportunities Are Only Grasped Through Decisions

I’m guilty of indecision myself. Many times in my life I have not regretted the decisions I’ve made – rather I have regretted the decisions I didn’t make and opportunities that I let slip away.

I’ve previously discussed how opportunities are only here for today – but you can’t take advantage of opportunities unless you decide to, and I haven’t talked much about decision making.

After looking for different ways to approach decision-making,  I accidentally discovered this technique. So far, I’ve shared it personally with just a few people – and today, I decided it was time to share it here.

If your results are anything like mine, you’ll love the power and clarity it gives you.  You will make decisions easily, almost effortlessly – and with conviction, knowing that you are 100% committed to your decisions.  In the long run, I hope you’ll also be able to look back satisfied with the path you chose.

The Secret – You Have To Know What Makes a Good Decision

What makes a life decision a good one? Ultimately, you have to live with the choices you make – so what metrics govern how good a decision is? I believe there are two key metrics:

  • Looking back, do I feel the decisions were correct.
  • Did I make the decisions quickly.

I think it’s paramount to not just make good decisions, but to make them as soon as possible too so that chances don’t pass us by.  Armed with this knowledge, any technique I give you needs to lead to fast results – and give you the tools you need to make the right decision.  Does it work?  You be the judge.

Sid’s Reverse Hindsight Technique For Making Life Decisions

This technique is simple once you get a feel for using it – and for me, has been extremely powerful.  Let me outline the technique for you, and then explain to you a little of the psychology behind it:

  1. Imagine you have one day to live.  If this was your last day on earth, this was the last decision you would ever make – even if you could not 100% follow through on your actions, how would you choose?  Imagine yourself tomorrow thinking back to this moment, and ask yourself – what does the tomorrow version of you wish was the decision?  Decide.
  2. Imagine one week to live. What decision would you make if it was down to your last 7 days? Again, imagine yourself a week from today, looking back at this moment and considering which way to go.  Decide.
  3. Finally, ask yourself what  would do if you had only one month to live. Imagine yourself looking back on this moment in a month.  What course of action does your future self wish you took?  Decide.

For each of these steps, I like to close my eyes and mentally travel to the allotted day. So for example, in the first step I imagine myself going through the actions of today based on a particular decision, going to sleep, waking up – and then asking myself how I feel about the decision. I repeat this with one week and one month increments.

If you’re especially prone to indecision, consider also the impact of not deciding.  We sometimes will continually put off a decision waiting for more information, waiting to see what happens – but as we wait, we’ve already made a decision!

When you don’t make a decision, you’ve actually decided not to act.

The Magic Behind The Different Time Frames

For me, asking these three questions puts things in perspective. Here’s how the questons work:

  1. One day to live gives you urgency.  If I had only one day to live, the important things have a renewed sense of urgency, and a reminder that my time is limited: I need to act immediately regardless of which direction I choose.
  2. One week to live gives you a context of average activities.  For me, when I think of a week – and especially if I mentally time travel – I weigh the decision and consider how it will impact every aspect of my life – physical fitness, family, personal goals, learning, etc.  This often leads to me thinking about the consequences in different ways
  3. One month to live gives you commitment.  A month isn’t an especially long time – but if you are going to commit to any course of action, any project or goal – sticking with it for even one month really serves as a good proxy for your commitment.  Considering that 25% of new year’s resolutions are broken in the first week, going a full month at a stretch really is a good gauge of whether you could stick with a decision long term.  Could you see yourself taking the actions every day for a month to support the decision? Even in Zen To Done, Leo mentions spending 30 days on each habit to ingrain it into your system.  If you can’t see yourself following through on one course of action in a month, will that decision stick long term?

Many decisions we make will make dramatic changes in our lives instantly.  Choosing to start a new project, or give something up, move or make other dramatic life changes will affect us for years to come – but we experience many consequences of the decision very quickly.

Note: Yes, you can go beyond and ask yourself one year, five year, ten years – and truthfully, I often do write down my life goals years in advance.  One of the dangers with trying to imagine how a decision will affect you too far in the future is there’s so much uncertainty, and we can’t always count on things going just as planned for years to come.  If you need to look beyond a month,  go ahead and continue – however I urge you to first try it with just asking one day, one week and one month – you might be surprised how revealing it is.

Take Responsibility For Your Life Decisions

One final thought I’d like to leave you with: now that you have this tool, it’s not just enough to make decisions. You have to actively live your life.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”
– Denis Waitley

I urge you to accept the responsibility for your decisions – and the responsibility to take action to make your life the way you want it, to change your conditions to what you desire.