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Important Choices Life Essays

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:

You might also like: The 3 Decisions that Control Your Destiny
26 Quotes on Choices

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