December 13, 2011

The Art of Good Decision Making

It's in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.  Choose now.  Choose well. 
-- Anthony "Tony" Robbins

Not even knowing who Tony Robbins was, I came upon this quote in an article I was reading in Vanity Fair last week, and was so inspired by it, I hung it on my fridge where it's been ever since.  Not only is it beautifully written, but it's a poignant message -- honest and illuminating and true.  Destiny comes not from karma, but from the decisions we make, whether good or bad.  Life is summed up by a series of decisions.  Every day we're faced with the decision of getting up early to workout or to sleep in, to read the newspaper or to not read it, to stop for the pedestrian at the crosswalk or to speed right past.  Other days, we're faced with bigger decisions -- to get married or to remain single, to have children or to have lots of cats, to buy a bigger house or to stay put.  And still, we're faced with smaller decisions that can alter the way our lives are forever -- to smoke that first cigarette, to take a different route home, or to strike up a conversation with the stranger in the fishermen's sweater. 

In some ways, the realization that we can shape our destiny may seem more frightening than if we think we have no control over it.  Personally, I find it rather empowering to know that our destiny can be molded with our very own hands.  Think about it.  You could have your dream job/partner/house/etc. if you're willing to make the right decisions (and in some cases, sacrifices) to get it.  The caveat to that, of course, is that you must know what your dream job/partner/house really is first.  Many of us don't take the time to reflect on our dreams, on what we really desire, without succombing to the assumption that the mainstream standard must be what we want, because that's what everyone seems to want.  Wrong.  (Sorry, but big weddings and expensive college tuitions weren't what I wanted, so I chose neither, and things turned out alright for me.)  The second caveat is that you must be willing to work for it, but seriously, what good things don't require a little hard work anyway?

My best friend Carrie often says that her biggest pet peeve is when someone says in contempt to another person's success, "It must be nice." (She actually just got her dream teaching job, and I am so flipping proud of her, but I digress.)  I agree with her.  No, it isn't "nice."  One's achievements in life are not simply plucked like an apple from a tree; they are not handed to us.  Such achievements take focus, work, dedication, and good decision making.  But decisions do not always have to be right to be good ones, of course.  Sometimes a few bad decisions along the way are the best opportunities for learning and for realizing that, "Oops, I guess I don't want that after all," or, "Oh, damn -- guess I better not make that mistake again because that could've really fucked it up." 

But if the life that we've been granted consists of a series of decisions, don't you owe it to yourself to think hard and make the right choice, for you?  Remember:  to be, you must do.

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