Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Decisiveness

What is a decisive person? What does it mean to be decisive? Am I decisive?

Being decisive means being able to quickly come to a decision and to stick with it.

A decisive person is one that comes to a decision quickly. Then follows through with the decision by taking whatever actions are necessary to make the decision meaningful.

I've been reflecting on my own ability to make decisions recently. I feel that I am a decisive person. Most of the time I come to a decision within less than a minute on just about any topic or situation that is presented to me. I think this is a strength. It prevents me from getting stuck in inaction. The true key, I think, is to not be stuck in your decision. If after progressing towards your goal with the decision you have made, you learn enough informatoin to realize that you have made the wrong decision, then you need to change course. That is the true mark of a decisive person. We are all presented with many decisions to make every day. Those who are able to see the end goal and make their decisions with an end goal in mind will continue to progress towards it. Even if a better decision exists that could be made, making a decision with the end goal in mind helps to make progress. That means that ultimately those who are the most decisive are the ones with the best defined goals.

What does this mean for indecisive people? Take time to think about your life, your goals. You are already making decisions everyday, give yourself a reason to make good decisions and make them quickly. think about where you want your life to go. Constantly think about how anything that you are doing will affect your goal of where you want your life to go. Then when you have a decision to make, weigh it against how it affects your goals. Most of the time your decisions will be easy. Sometimes they will be very gray. Let me give a few examples.

Life goal: Live to be 100. Retire at 60 (yes I consider that early). I'm 15. If I'm offered a smoke I'll turn it down. If I'm offered alcohol, or a ride with someone who is drunk, I'll turn it down. These are clear, simple decisions that will risk my living to 100. Get a job or sit at home and play video games? Get a job. I can't retire if I don't have money saved for retirement. Yes these are things that I think. At 15, these are decisions that I made that have dramatically affected my life, but moreso, my decisions.

Example Number 2:
Retire at 60. Go to college, or become a manager at a fast food restaurant. In this case going to college will cost money, but the payoff for going should be more than worth the cost. However, being a manager could provide me with an initial boost into my retirement. I chose Go to college. Did I make the right choice? For me probably, because I also chose a field that pays well and I know has more than offset the cost of college, however, either decision would have helped me. If I had chosen to sit at home and do nothing however, I would not have been progressing towards my goal.

Example Number 3:
Life Goal: Continue my family name and be a good father. Retire at 60. These goals are fundamentally contradictory. Having children will without a doubt cost a lot of money. Kids are expensive, doctor's bills alone will cost a small fortune, but there are many other things. Which is more important to me? Family is more important to me. Now that I have set my two life goals out and prioritized family over retirement, decisions are easier to come by. Do I sign my kids up for activities and sports? Hrm. The retirement goal says no, but the family goal says yes and it's got a higher priority. Do I sign my kids up for every activity. No. That would take too much away from my retirement goal. There's a precious balance that I have in my mind. Having decided long ago about the priorities of my life goals makes coming to decisions a lot easier. There is a lot of gray areas. But any decision that helps to further one of my life goals is a good decision. I can always change my mind later when more information comes to me.

Have you sat down and come up with your own life goals? Knowing what you want out of life is very important. It makes everything you do easier, it helps to make your life purpose driven. Speaking of which, there is a book "The purpose driven life". This is a religious book, I presume about using God to help you set your life goals with God as a part of your life goals. I think this is a great idea, and I've got many life goals that pertain to God. Having God and faith in your life goals helps you make your everyday decisions in the eyes of the Lord. This is a book that I have not read, but would like to.

If anyone has read this let me know what you thought of it?

After having written this post, I ran across Steve Pavlina's recent post about Making Decisions that stick. We seem to differ on several points, but I find it an interesting alternative.