In Howard Thurman’s book “The Inward Journey- Meditations on the Spiritual Quest,” he speaks about the decision to act and how it energizes a person and shapes their personality. We often start out “drifting along” without any sense of direction, purpose or passion. Then something happens that shifts us. He describes it as “something very simple and inconsequential in itself but it stabs awake, it alarms, it disturbs.” It is at this time we get out of our comfort zone and take the necessary steps to act in a way that is passionate, purposeful and energizing.
We make billions of decisions in our lives, in fact, according to Cornell University research, we make about 35,000 decision a day. The decisions we made or decided not to make in our lives brought us to where we are today, including where we live, who we are with, who our friends are, where we go to school, our employment, career path, marriage and children. Good or bad we are constantly making decisions that affect our lives.
The focus of this blog is on decisive actions. We often have great ideas in our heads but there are fears that weigh us down giving us reasons not to act. I’m not talking about those decisions that would be destructive or hurtful, but the ones that would propel us forward. Our body and mind are designed to keep us safe from possible danger. When our mind screams out, “are you sure you want to do this, it might not work!” it is doing its job. It is our job to motivate ourselves to take decisive action anyway, especially when it is in our higher interest.
Sometimes we feel stuck or paralyzed in our mind because we are not sure what actions to take. We also may feel that we might hurt someone else in the process. We don’t trust ourselves that we are going to make the right decision. I often see this in my practice when someone is deciding to take the next steps in a good relationship or even ending a bad one. One person is waiting on the other to be the decisive one. I have a friend who has been working at a dead end job for months. He felt that the job was not challenging or utilizing his full potential. He finally decided to take action in finding a job that was more rewarding, challenging and one that makes a difference for others. Indecisiveness can lead to procrastination, avoidance and eventually resentment. Even worse it could keep you in a failing relationship or soul draining job.
When my wife and I decided on having children, I knew we needed more of an income to be able to raise the child the way we wanted. I soon sprang into action, first buying myself a fedora hat and then applying to several jobs. Shortly after I landed a position in a hospital that was more money and better benefits. I knew that my wife and future child were counting on me, which was enough motivation to take action.
Another reason people don’t take decisive action is that they feel they don’t have enough information or knowledge. It is good to evaluate your options, but there is a point when it becomes obsessive, time-consuming and sometimes costly. It is necessary to take a decisive risk at times. Once a decision is made there can be some adjustments, lessons and even victories. If we decide not to take the risk, we may regret it later on. A gentleman that I work with told me he stopped smoking for a week and wanted to remain smoke free. He tried to quit a few times in the past. When asked the reason for quitting this time he said that he runs out of breath very easily and that his boss glares at him when he comes back from smoke breaks. This man made a decision that he’s had enough and came to me to support him in this endeavor. There is always a catalyst that fuels the desire to decide to take needed actions.
So, how do we know what decisive actions to take and how do we gather the energy to push forward? It starts with asking ourselves questions about why must we take decisive action. These questions include: what is the purpose of taking this action; what will be the consequences of being indecisive; what is the grander vision or who else would benefit from the action taken; and finally, whom can I reach out to for support?
When we get that feeling in our gut and start getting frustrated with where we are, we know it’s time for change and we need to take the next steps. When we are at the crossroads of change it can be a scary place. At times we need to make the hard decisions today in order for our lives to be a little easier and fulfilling in the future.
Please contact me at Sheric73@yahoo.com or 516-849- 2152