Decisions change lives

Decisions, decisions.

Indeed, our days are filled with decision-making occurrences. It is estimated that we make upwards of 500 decisions each day, yet few of us stop to consider the role decisions play in our lives and the consequences of those decisions.

Consider this: each of us is merely one decision away from radically shifting our lives.

One decision can change the trajectory of our careers.

One decision can forever shatter a lifelong dream.

One decision can leave a wound in our marriage that takes months (perhaps years) to repair.

Late last year the spouse of a client was progressing steadily along a career path which was steering him to a position in his company he had long aspired to – Vice President, Procurement.

His team was tasked with sourcing contractors to provide vital services to a particular division of his company. This departments output was a key component of new technology the company was developing that would herald the dawn of a new era of technological advancements in their industry.

My client’s husband – an enthusiastic hockey player – awarded the work to a teammate who had recently started his own consulting company and was in desperate need of obtaining his first client.

A bad decision.

Her husband’s company had a long-standing tradition of competitive bidding from well-established companies and rarely allowed sole-sourcing of any outside work.

Needless to say, the work delivered was substandard and my clients husband’s career ambitions have ground to a screeching halt.

One decision!

Earlier this year I met the 23-year-old son of another client. He had recently completed a three-month stay in a private (hellishly expensive) rehab facility and, on the day we met, he was enjoying his 108th day of sobriety.

Both he and his dad were cautiously optimistic as this was his fourth stint at rehabilitation. Each prior time he had succumbed to the lure of temptation and then found himself back on a downward spiral heading towards rock bottom.

This young man had been an aspiring athlete and by the time he graduated from high school he had received offers of athletic scholarship from several major, prestigious schools around North America.

He celebrated his 18th birthday with a party at a friend’s house. Somebody showed up and offered everyone a hit of crack cocaine. He had never as much as tasted alcohol or even put a cigarette in his mouth and he said no,

But it was his birthday and his friends kept goading him and pressuring him to “lighten up and live a little.” Eventually, with his resistance worn down, he made the decision to “try it just once.”

A bad decision.

And the next day he tried it again. And then again.

He never did go to college.

One decision!

Just last week another client shared with me how he, with just one comment, wounded his wife so deeply that he was uncertain whether they could ever regain the love and mutual respect they had always had for each other.

They had three children over five years and the youngest has just celebrated her second birthday.

His wife was struggling to lose the weight that three pregnancies had added to her frame and was becoming both frustrated and depressed.

Her battles with her weight had become part of their daily conversation and, by his own admission, he was “getting tired of her constant whining.”

One evening as she was once again telling him of her weight loss challenges, he could feel his anger started to rise and, rather than dealing with his own anger issue, he snapped and said “I wish you would just shut up. I’m tired of hearing your constant whining. Why don’t you just do something, lose the damn weight instead of just talking about it.”

A bad decision.

He then stood up and stormed out of their living room. He knew he had hurt her badly but could not bring himself to apologize.

He told me the story some four months later. He had apologized on several occasions but sometimes an apology can’t dim – let alone remove – extreme pain and their marriage has transcended into something like a relationship of two people sharing a common home.

One decision!

Much of the work I do is centered around what I call The Five Truths. One of these truths states that when we choose a behavior, we choose its consequences. Our ability to reframe our perspective – teach ourselves to place different meanings on situations and events in our lives – will produce consequences far different than those described above.

We are all one decision away from courting disaster.  

Or, we are all one decision away from taking that first step to greatness.

Each day we are given 500 opportunities to make decisions.

Take each one very seriously.

Till we read again.

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