One of my favorite my favorite quotes from Dr. Kathleen Hall is “in every single thing you do, you are choosing a direction. Your life is a product of choices.” Every decision you make could have pitfalls. The problem is, in most cases, the aftermath will hit so far in the future that the cause is practically divorced from the result. Take the choices you make today about what to eat or drink, or whether to skip the gym or push yourself to go, or how late to stay up tonight binge-watching the latest TV series on HBO.
By now we all know the possible outcomes of smoking, and we recognize that more sleep and less caffeine are probably better for us (though there’s debate about the latter), yet in the throes of the day to day, it’s hard to perceive the actual impact. That’s because these things accumulate over time, and it’s typically only after many years of questionable decisions have gone by that the impact will be known in the body.But making a decision is hard-especially when it involves effort. For example, it’s easy to join the gym on January 2nd, when you feel guilty about overindulging on December 31st, and ready to embrace the New Year with all sorts of vows to change. But when January 5th rolls around and it’s dark outside when your alarms goes off, it’s easier to hit the snooze button like a gazillion times and blow off your planned early morning trip to the gym entirely.
Decisions about your future are hard, because the person making the decision NOW is not the person who will need to execute on (or live with) the decision LATER. You are assuming that the motivation you feel after finally shaking off that is New Years’ Eve hangover on January 2nd, that you will turn over a new leaf and make a real effort of getting into shape this year, will still be intact in your psyche on the remaining 29 days of January when you have committed to yourself that you’ll be going to the gym without missing a day. The person who wakes up on January 5th is simply not that person who made the commitment to join the gym in the first place. The person who wakes up on January 5th is tired and grumpy and hasn’t had any coffee, so who can blame them for not wanting to drag themselves out of bed to subject themselves to the unpleasantness of a grueling early morning workout?So do yourself a favor and stop, think, and process before making any decisions.
Your TODAY SELF will thank your FUTURE SELF. I know when I started going to the gym and committing I knew I would feel better. However, I would have never guessed how proud I would be after losing 50 pounds. Some decisions are consequential and irreversible or nearly irreversible-one way doors-and these decisions must be made methodically, carefully, slowly, with great deliberation and consultation. If you walk through and don’t like what you see on the other side, you can’t get back to where you were before. This is a Type 1 decisions. But most decisions aren’t like that, they are changeable, reversible – they’re two-way doors. If you’ve made a suboptimal Type 2 decision, you don’t have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through.