Every decision is a seed planted for your future
- Only a few decisions are made with full awareness of their implications
- Habits have both an extremely beneficial and a disastrous potential
- It’s our daily decisions – the seeds we plant today – that decide how our future will look like
- Realize the potential of every choice you make
- Think for the long-run
- Have clear values and stick to them
Have you ever asked yourself how you ended in your current situation? What led to all your achievements and failures? Well, I’ve dealt with this question numerous times.
In my view, life is a series of choices we make daily and that add up to a large outcome.
Good decisions imply a good outcome. Bad decisions imply a bad outcome.
The significance of most decisions is elusive though. They are like a seed of a tree: It takes years or even decades until the full potential of it manifests, but once sowed, the tree is set to grow from a tiny seed to a massive construct.
I used to make many decisions unconsciously. Since I realized the significance of even minuscule decisions, however, I’ve strived to enhance my decision making by becoming more aware of the magnitude of decisions. And it transformed my life for the better.
In today’s article, I write about why we should more often decide consciously, explicate the compound effect of decision making, and contemplate ways to make decision making more conscious.
Become more conscious of your decision making
Only a few decisions are made with full awareness of their implications. Rather, most of our decisions are based on habits and thus performed automatically with absence of our conscience. For instance, according to a Harvard study, 95% of our buying decisions are made unconsciously.¹
Even though habits are one of the best inventions of human nature, they bear a disastrous potential. No matter what, something you perform regularly and consistently becomes a habit, and what becomes a habit doesn’t require our attention – good or bad. Brushing our teeth – good. Drinking alcohol every night – bad. Reading before going to sleep – good. Checking social media the first thing in the morning – bad. Calling your parents every weekend – good. Responding right after you got a message from your ex – bad.
I know and fully understand that habits are convenient. Not making a conscious effort to decide saves a lot of energy and time. Just imagine before you brushed your teeth, you had to think about whether it’s a good idea – every single time. That’d be horrible.
Yet, there’re too many decisions we make without evaluating them even though we should. In addition, there’re even more decisions we have thought about but not sufficiently so that they became a bad habit because of the paucity of our effort. Remember the last time you told yourself that you’ll start to study earlier in the next exam period? Remember the last time you told yourself you won’t drink that much Tequila? Remember the last time you told yourself this year I will do sports regularly?
If we’re not aware of all the bad habits we implemented in our lives, they will silently and slowly make our lives worse and worse.
The seeds we plant today
Confucius once said something like:
If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.
I think this statement underlines the significance of long-term thinking and daily decisions. Enabling people to make educated decisions is among the strongest levers to advance and enrich a society.
Since we discovered the potential of the Internet and made use of it, our world is developing at a rapid speed. This progress comes down to the substantially improved exchange of information. Information is key to make better decisions.
Nevertheless, it’s our daily decisions – the seeds we plant today – that decide how our future will look like. Each decision contains its potential for the future, just as each seed carries within it the potential for the plant that it will become, the produce it will generate, and the seeds and potential for future generations – future iterations of itself.
If we make a conscious decision and entirely thought through it, action will follow. However, when we don’t invest enough time and energy to decide consciously, our ambition will fail before it started.
Making an informed choice today, not tomorrow, can change your life. It’s the action and decisions of the past that led to the life you live today. So, if you want to change your tomorrow, you have to start today.
How to decide more consciously
These suggestions will help you to make more conscious decisions daily:
Realize the potential of every choice you make
First of all, you need to become aware of the potential of a decision.
That is by far the most difficult part. However, once you understand that every miniscule choice leads to an infinite series of events and hence can have an infinite large impact (in the long-run), you will make more conscious decisions automatically.
Do you remember Rosa Parks? The woman who rejected bus driver James F. Blake’s order to vacate a row of four seats in the colored section in favor of a white passenger, once the white section was filled? That little decision led to the civil rights movement almost every Western kid has to study in school today. Do you think Parks knew that this little act of disobedience would lead to one of the largest movements of Earth’s history? Of course not – no one could have imagined the consequences of this minor decision. But every single decision bears this potential!
Think for the long-run
The most important value to me: Long-term decision making.
Every single day, I ask myself what happened if I did x for the rest of my life. Taking supplements, drinking coffee, doing sports, saying hello to strangers on the street, compensating my flights, let the emotions of others make me angry, going to sleep too late, going to a party every weekend, eating meat, etc.
A focus on the long-run allows me to make questioning my actions a habit. It creates awareness for the significance of my daily choices.
Have clear values and stick to them
Another great lever to make your decision making more conscious is to contemplate your most important values and use them consistently as the basis for your decisions. Once you get used to base your decisions on them, a conscious choice will take significantly less time.
I devised the list of my most vital values by thinking through different situations and asked myself why I decided for something particular: Why did I rather work on a blog article than watching a Netflix series? Why did I rather go to a party rather than studying more for an upcoming exam? Why do I don’t spend much time with materialistic people? Why do I want to look in shape? Why do I want to live a happy and fulfilled life? …
If you found your values and stick to them consistently, your decision making will be more conscious than can think of.
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