If you don't succeed immediately in reaching clearly defined goals, try again from a different angle, just never stop making the decisions to get there.
Have you found your purpose in life? Have you found a reason to live? Like many businesses without a clear vision, an evolving strategy and an action plan, millions of people have no idea who they are or why they are here. So many of us wander in mental oblivion, making wrong decisions and watching our world crumble before their eyes, and not having a clue why.
If you need statistics, all you have to do is examine the number of divorces in your county (approximately 2 out of 3 marriages end in divorce these days), number of murders in the past six months, assaults by juvenile delinquents who are being raised by confused parents who have no idea how to raise their children; theft and robberies, war, and I could go on and on. And frankly so could you.
No one who gets married wants it to end up in a divorce. No mother who gives birth expects their child to be a delinquent. No one who studies hard expects to be unemployed and no one who lends a helping hand expects to be sued for their efforts. So what is the problem?
Life these days, as it always has been really, is complicated and trial and error is usually the direction many of us take as we grow up. And we will make mistakes, all of us. But not learning from a mistake is really the crime we’re facing. Refusing to make decisions in line with our mistakes and the will and determination not to do it again, is truly a crime that keeps us from making the right choices. A simple examination of who you are and why you are making wrong decisions could turn this troubling trend around in no time, and sometimes the solution is no further than a simple change of your mind.
One of the biggest problems in our society is that we culturally we have been deceived into thinking that “everything will be alright”. From the big picture… “oh we’re still young as a country, we’re allowed to make mistakes” to the individual level, “he’ll be fine, just let him grow up in peace”, the general assuming is sold as everything is going to turn out all right. Well, without any serious planning, based on knowledge and understanding, we are doomed to make decisions that affect our future and the future of those who depend on us. The essence of Critical Living is making life confirming and sometimes life altering decisions. Too many of us think that making decisions can be avoided, and consequently do not have the courage to say “Yes” or “No” even when it’s time for us to step up to the plate and take our personal swing at the ball.
Define your goal first
Before you even begin to wrestle with the process of making successful decisions, you need to define and understand your goals. What do you want to accomplish? Where are you trying to go? It is your goal that will determine your behavior, and if your goal turns out to be wrong, is it possible that you need to change your goal? (There’s still time to change the road you’re on – Led Zeppelin in Stairway to Heaven!) And you spend your time and your life at the place that you have targeted as a goal.
If your distorted goal is to rob a bank, (don’t do it) you probably want to spend some time at that bank studying the activity and routine, so you know how to rob it, all the while realizing of course that your presence is monitored and recorded by a number of cameras. Don’t make the mistake however to think that robbing a bank is a Goal. It is merely the tool you have wrongly chosen to reach a goal. If your desire is to get a college degree, as a springboard to reach your goal, you will spend a lot of time studying to get the credits that are needed to get your degree. If your goal is to find a companion, raise a family and live happily ever after, you will spend time getting to know the person in which you find an interest.
Whatever your goal, determines your behavior. If you have not clarified your goal, then you are wandering in a world of personal emptiness, uncertain what target you are supposed to hit. And like a boat without a rudder or a compass, you wander in a mindless sea, hesistant or even willing to make a decision. Devastating.
Always remember that if you made a wrong decision, you could at least learn from it and get some direction. Most of us have no personal direction. Go to work; go home; eat supper; watch TV; go to bed. No goals, no reason to live. If you don’t make a comprehensive plan to make more money than you are making right now, you will make the same amount or less than what you are presently making ten years from now. The numbers don’t lie. Don’t you want to do better next year? Don’t you need a plan?
Matching your goals to the decisions you are making
Most importantly you have to make sure your goal is worthwhile, and secondly you have to assess the problems that require decisions in the action plan that will ultimately take you to your goals. And now you are ready to deal with the problem by going through the decision process. Expert decision makers can go through this process quickly and efficiently solve many problems as they gain a reputation for their wisdom.
These days too many people rely on impulse or misguided intuition when making decisions, which ultimately causes us to experience divorce, or delinquency, or even war. And many are affected. If we would only walk before running, if we slow ourselves down to determine the good and bad of what we are about to do, and why we are about to do it, then we can greatly improve the chance to reach our goals.
Now let’s assume you are ready to begin the Decision-making Process.
What do you want to do, and why is it causing you problems? Why is there a decision necessary, and what methods are you going to take to get there? Do you want a significant other? Do you want more romance? Do you want a close friendship, or more social life? Are you unhappy with your job? Would a raise in pay solve that problem, and if you determine that such is the case, what are you doing to make certain you deserve a raise? Are you using your talents, and why or why not? Where is your passion? Where are you unhappy and why do you need to make a decision in the first place? These basic questions are all decisions that must be made in the midst of problems that you face, and if you are not asking these questions, you are riding on your impulse alone, and though that may work sometimes, it will more often make you land on your face. There are many ways to define a problem that you probably have not ventured, and the more specific you become about the problem, the more accurate you will be in making a proper decision to eliminate the problem.
And part of your success is based in the morality of the decision you are trying to make. Experience has probably already told you that there is always more than one way to solve a problem, and not all of these routes are right or healthy. If you are poor, there are many ways that you can try to get rich, but some of these ways are neither healthy nor morally right. And one of the greatest ways to help you make a decision is to study your own passions and desires, and to understand where your talents want to take you. If you follow your passion, you will be doing what you want, and what your own life is saying to your psyche.
College Students that come to me wanting to know what College Major they should study to get a degree, always hear me ask the most important question: “What do your talents tell you about yourself?” If you are poor in algebra or geometry, science is probably not in your future. If you have an excellent singing voice, and you enjoy singing, you should consider making a living with your talent, whatever it is. And if that doesn’t work, than there are other echelons. I know people who studied percussion, piano or string instruments but never become stars, but instead star makers as execs in the music industry. Their passion is closely aligned with their interest.
Are you embracing the smart choices that will guide your life because you have educated yourself in realistic possible solutions, or are you just taking a guess and a gamble and seeing what happens? If I ask you, “What are your talents?” do you have an educated answer? If there is a career that you want to pursue, do you know what education is required so that you can get that career? If as a parent you are having trouble raising your child, have you ever gone to a seminar on Parent-training skills? Are you aware of the education available to help you become a better parent? These solutions need to be researched. If you are not doing your homework, you’re going to fail the test of life.
And even after you have done the research, you still have to supply the input as to what is better or worse for the decision-making process. You must honestly ask questions objectively and see where your research takes you. Maybe you have a talent for math, but you still hate the idea of being an accountant. You have to pay attention to yourself and the advantages as well as the personal disadvantages to make your decisions properly.
Sometimes a “best choice” is temporary, depending on the circumstances, and that means that the choice will only work for a period of time. There are very few decisions in life with permanent consequenceas. In fact, believing that a decision is permanent is usually fatal. Getting married and assuming marriage is going to be permanent no matter what is almost always fatal for the relationship. We will lose it if we don’t make the decision to refresh our marriage every day. Every new day of our job needs to be refreshing, and any relationship without fresh decisions is almost always doomed.
There are short term goals and long term goals, and we must identify which is which, and how each applies to our situation, or situations, as the case may be. Each plan, each decision, is simply a starting point for living right, for making productive decisions, for making your life what you want it to be.