It’s easy to look back on your past and see how big decisions have changed your life. What’s harder to do is look back and realize how all those small everyday decisions have impacted you.
Most people give a lot of thought to making big decisions, but how many of us give much thought to the small everyday ones? There’s a great quote by Wayne Dyer that goes, “Our lives are the sum total of the choices we have made.” So what kind of life are your everyday decisions making?
Many Small Decisions Become Big
It’s easy to brush off those small decisions you make every day as insignificant or too little to make much of an overall difference to your life. For instance, if you’re interested in losing weight, deciding to eat a doughnut one day instead of a banana probably won’t make much of a difference.
I can see why people think that. One small decision probably isn’t going to make or break any huge goal or dream you have.
But that’s assuming your decision to eat a doughnut is an isolated one. It isn’t.
It also assumes your everyday decisions don’t matter much. They do.
It’s certainly true that one small decision won’t make much of a difference. But how about ten, twenty, or even a hundred of them?
When you see everyday decisions as independent of each other, you see them as too small and insignificant to be important. Seeing them from this point of view means missing the bigger picture. Your everyday decisions aren’t isolated incidents separate from each other.
Rather than working in isolation, your everyday decisions build on each other. They might be small on their own, but they can add up quickly.
In essence, your everyday decisions matter because there are so many of them.
The power of everyday decisions comes from what you do or don’t do on a regular basis. They all add up. You just need to make sure they are adding up into something good for you.
Think about it this way:
Going to the gym once won’t matter. But if you follow through on that decision twice a week for several months, you’ll see a huge difference.
Taking fifteen minutes to read once isn’t much. But read that much every day and the amount of books you’ll read in a year is impressive.
The Power of Everyday Decisions
It reminds me of a time several years ago when I first started cutting out sugary and fatty foods. My willpower was good, but the people around me kept pressuring me to eat more of them. There were so many instances when I was asked to make an exception to eating those bad foods.
Usually it was for a holiday, but other times like birthdays, state fairs and celebrations had one friend or another telling me to make an exception. Additionally my workplace routinely gave out ice cream or candy as incentives. Then there were times friends told me to just indulge my sweet tooth because “one time won’t make a difference”.
Every single one of these moments was a small everyday decision when I was asked to make an exception. If I had eaten something bad on each of those occasions, I wouldn’t be sticking to my goal at all.
If I had been asked only once to make an exception, the decision would have been too small to make a difference. But cumulatively, they would have completely undermined my dietary goal.
So what are all your everyday decisions adding up to?
It’s good to ask yourself how your everyday decisions are affecting your life.
• What are all your everyday decisions adding up to?
• Is this truly an isolated decision or a trend?
• Can you see these decisions as part of the bigger picture?
• What kind of decisions do you make on a regular basis?
Your Small Decisions Affect Big Decisions
Seeing how small everyday decisions can accumulate into big changes is only half of the story. They can also affect your big decisions too.
Someone can make small decisions every day to build up their confidence. Eventually all that confidence you build up can give you the strength to make a huge decision you wouldn’t have done otherwise.
You can make a decision to write every single day. That can build up really good writing skills. Then one day you might make a huge decision to write a book.
Of course, how much your small decisions affect your life depends on how well you see the bigger picture. Seeing the choices you make every day as too small and insignificant might mean seeing them too narrowly.
Put all those choices together if you want to see how much they can really impact your life. One way or another, your everyday choices are adding up in the life you have now. Make sure it’s adding up into something great.
photo credit: zaqi
“When it comes down to it, it isn’t the major choices we make in life – career, marriage, etc. – that count the most. It is the everyday, minor decisions that make life work for us.” –Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D.
Have you ever stopped to think about the impact your choices have had, or are having, on your life? When I was thinking about a topic for the next blog post the word “choices” came to mind. Occasionally I hear people say, “I have/had no choice.” And I couldn’t understand why they felt that way. See, they had a choice, they just didn’t like the choices. I guess you can say it was a choice between the “lesser of two evils.” Or they felt they were not able to make the choice they really wanted. Well my feeling was….if you can’t do it now, then plan for it so you can do it at some future date. Just come up with a plan, take action, and stick to it until you achieve whatever it is you want. Nobody said it would be easy, however, it can be done. That’s just my two cents worth.
In his book “Choices,” Dr. Shad Helmstetter came up with a list of the 100 Most Important Choices in your life. Before we get to the list, here’s a little of what Shad Helmstetter had to say about making choices:
“When we begin to take a careful look at the choices we make, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the most important choices are the choices that guide and direct the major areas of our life.
It is easy to think that if we make good choices about our career, marriage, education, income, family, etc., we should be able to do just fine.
But what about the other choices – the thousands of almost unnoticed choices that all of us make (or do not make), day in and day out? How important are those “little” choices?
They are exceptionally important. It may be the big choices in life that set the direction for where we’re going, but it is the little choices that get us there.
Our loftiest goals become nothing more than unfulfilled dreams in life that fall by the wayside if we do not just as carefully make, and act on the smaller choices along the way. What do the little choices look like? I’ll give you some examples.
Here is a list of 100 choices. Some of them seem important; others seem so insignificant that we might wonder how they could be important at all. But each of them makes up some part of what we call “life.”
As you read through this list, notice that any one of the choices, no matter how seemingly insignificant, affects something about us; what we do, how we spend our time, what we think and how we think, how we feel, what we like or dislike, what works for us and what does not.
Each of us makes tens of thousands of choices in a lifetime.” A few of them are mentioned below. This book looks like it was written in 1989, so keep that in mind when wondering why you don’t see references to email, computer games, the internet, or social networking sites. Remember, these are just some choices. Emphasis on the word some.
Your 100 Most Important Choices:
1 – Who you spend most of your time with
2 – How you comb your hair
3 – What your favorite foods are
4 – What you eat most often
5 – How often you call home
6 – The books you read
7 – Your posture
8 – How much or how little you smile
9 – What you watch on television and how much you watch
10 – Your hobbies
11 – How much you exercise
12 – Whether you argue more than you should
13 – The style and color clothes you wear
14 – Who you invite to a party
15 – Whether you write letters
16 – Which telephone calls you return
17 – The appearance of your home
18 – How long something stays broken before you fix it
19 – How late you stay up at night
20 – What time you get up in the morning
21 – How well you listen to others
22 – Whether you smoke
23 – Whether you gossip
24 – How well you are able to concentrate
25 – The political candidates you vote for
26 – Whether you like or fear computers
27 – How fast you drive
28 – How much risk you are willing to take
29 – Whether you save money
30 – Whether you are a leader or a follower
31 – The amount of time you spend with your kids
32 – How organized you are
33 – Whether you go to church
34 – Whether you belong to a social or service organization
35 – How often you change shoes
36 – Who you admire most
37 – How often you are late for something
38 – What you do about a traffic ticket
39 – Who pays the bills in your household
40 – Who decides what to have for dinner
41 – How much time you give yourself to get ready in the morning
42 – What you do at the end of the day
43 – What you drink, if, and how much
44 – Where you buy your groceries, and why
45 – How calm you are
46 – Whose opinions you ask for
47 – How you handle problems at work
48 – Whether you attend concerts or cultural events
49 – How often you eat out
50 – How interested you are in other people
51 – How you show your emotions
52 – What newspapers or magazines you read
53 – Whether you give free advice
54 – What kind of car you drive, and what shape it’s in
55 – How you react to negative attitudes or opinions from others
56 – What sports you participate in
57 – How you spend your holidays
58 – How important it is for you to follow the trend
59 – How much time you spend talking to your spouse or mate
60 – How important you feel you are
61 – How you use credit cards
62 – How you look at problems in the past
63– How you treat or relate to members of the opposite sex
64 – How often you feel sorry for yourself
65 – Who upsets you the most
66 – Whether you like a challenge
67 – Who controls the conversation
68 – How you feel about world problems
69 – What you think about while you’re getting ready in the morning
70 – How much you worry
71 – How much patience you have
72 – How many compliments you give
73 – What gets you angry
74 – How often you almost run out of gas in the car
75 – What you do when you don’t get your way
76 – How much you spend, and on what
77 – How often you criticize
78– How happy you are
79 – How you feel about what other people think of you
80 – How often you do not tell the truth, and why
81 – How you take care of yourself
82 – How much you respect yourself
83 – How often you complain
84 – How often you have to be reminded of something
85 – Who you talk to when you have a problem
86 – How you leave your desk or work space at the end of the day
87 – What movies you attend
88 – How often you get a haircut
89 – How often you have friends visit
90 – How much encouragement you give to others
91 – How polite you are
92 – When you do your Christmas shopping
93 – What you think about, when you have time to think
94 – How much time you take to sell your ideas
95 – Whether you eat breakfast
96 – How you feel when you come home from work
97 – What you do when you’ve made a mistake
98 – What you do when someone else has made a mistake
99 – How you react to being stuck in a traffic jam
100 – What you think about just before you go to sleep at night
Dr. Shad Helmstetter’s website is: http://www.shadhelmstetter.com
You might also like: The 3 Decisions that Control Your Destiny
26 Quotes on Choices
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