Have you ever been in a quandary and, after considering different options and possibilities, you finally decided what you need to do.
This happens to me consistently. I try to decide where to go for a week’s vacation in August. I try to decide what kind of siding to put on the teahouse the ToDo Institute is building on the hill. I consider what type of software platform would be best for our new website. Let’s say I am looking back at the day and making a list of what I did:
1. Decided to send the girls to the Adventure camp instead of Soccer camp.
2. Decided to fix my old mountain bike instead of trying to buy a used one.
3. Decided not to get the girls a trampoline (safety issues).
4. Decided on what type of border to use in the garden alongside the driveway.
5. Decided to try to set up a dinner near Woodstock, Vermont with our old friend Kathy while she is working there temporarily.
6. Decided to go up to Home Depot on Saturday and get the materials I need to finish the new basement wall which I put up last year.
Wow! That’s a lot of decision making. I really accomplished a lot today, didn’t I?
Until I actually take some constructive action, I have not changed the reality of my life or the world around me at all by just deciding.
Well it feels like I did. There are some decisions that are extremely important and require a fair amount of consideration. Trying to decide on the proper software platform and design for a website, is clearly important. I remember when we were trying to decide whether to adopt a child. That decision had a dramatic effect on my entire life.
But we shouldn’t confuse deciding with acting. If you were to watch me making decisions, mostly you would see me just sitting there. I might be looking up something on the Web or surveying the grounds, but what you would see me doing is really . . . not very much.
And — this is critical — the difference in reality before and after the decision is . . . NO DIFFERENCE. Until I actually take some constructive action, I have not changed the reality of my life or the world around me at all by just deciding. It may seem like progress. It certainly feels like progress. But keep in mind that regardless of how much thought and energy went into that decision, I can change it in an instant. I can simply think, “No, I think I’ll do something else instead.”
Now I’ve made two decisions and still nothing has changed.
So please be cautious about thinking of decision-making as something you did. Generally, it’s something you thought. Writing the first paragraph of your book . . . or planting some basil in the garden . . . or filing papers with the adoption office in China . . . or riding your bicycle for ten minutes. These are actions. These are the things that create ripples in our lives and in the world.
And those ripples can end up traveling great distances in both time and space as they change lives in ways that cannot be predicted.
Gregg Krech Author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (2002)| Author, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness (2004, 2011)| Author, A Finger Pointing to the Moon (2000)| Editor, Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living (1993-Present)| Director, ToDo Institute (Vermont) (1992-Pr......