One Question Inspires Better Decision Making
A “vision”, a “reason”, a “why.” This is what all successful people have in common – a clear future orientation. They take the time to analyse their choices and behaviours in the present to make sure that they are consistent with the long-term future that they desire. And having a clear idea of what is really important in the long term, makes it much easier to make better decisions in the short term.
If something is important, it has long-term potential consequences that are in alignment with the desired future. If something is unimportant, it has few or no long-term potential consequences and will only hinder the desired future. Now, before starting anything, ask yourself this one question: “What are potential consequences of doing or not doing this task?”
“You are free to choose, but you are not free to alter the consequences of your decisions.” – Ezra Taft Benson
Consider The Consequences
I came across this question a while ago in a book titled ‘Eat That Frog!’ by Brian Tracy. It’s a book explaining 21 different ways to stop procrastination. I use this question to help me re-focus on my long-term goal as a freelancer and my passion for writing. Whenever I’m lost in my work or when I feel like procrastinating, I would consider the consequences. Not only in my work but also in certain life decisions, such as health and self-education. It reminds me of the long-term goal I have envisioned.
Tracy explained in his book that successful people are those who are willing to delay gratification and make sacrifices in the short-term so that they can enjoy far greater rewards in the long-term. Thinking frequently about the potential consequences of your choices, decisions, and behaviours is one of the very best ways to determine your true priorities in your work and personal life.
Of course, we all wish to do our whole to-do list. Who wouldn’t? However, there is never enough time to do everything. So, Tracey suggests starting by doing the highest value activity with the highest impact that can make a real positive difference in your life and career. Even if it means doing the most unpleasant task first. This way you make the most valuable use of your time with no regret. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Role of Patience
We’re all aware of the fact that decision making can be an extremely complicated task. It’s a mental process that requires a lot of patience and vision. What I have learned through exposure to reality, is that successful people make decisions based on where they want to be and prepare for the consequence that comes with each short-term decision.
Besides consequences, there are also risks involved, uncertainties that will create doubts, complexities that will make it difficult to execute. Fighting your internal conflicts and doubts demand courage and confidence. Once you patiently sail through all the barriers, you see the light of success.
Not every decision of your life or related to your career will pay off, but that’s the beauty of decision making. The change may be scary, but it’s better than living in regret of not making it. Bearing risks is something that makes people adopt a different approach to achieving success. And the fact of life is there’s no easy road to success, you must make your way through it. That’s the role of patience in long-term thinking, it’s a pushing force that will guide you to try harder every next try and not to walk away.
Recognise Short-Term Health Values
Here is the other side of the spectrum: Many driven people with a long-term investment mindset get far too little sleep, forget to eat, and don’t exercise at all. While they see these behavioural decisions as needed and worthy sacrifices in pursuit of their long-term goals, the consequence is that they’re undermining their effectiveness in the short-term and longevity in the long-term.
Simple behaviours, such as having enough sleep, nutrition, and exercise can save you hours of time each day in lost productivity because you’re working with your body instead of fighting against it. So, which seem to be the better decision?
Find The Right Balance
With every decision on long-term goals, you’ll want to make some short-term goals. These could be as short-term as deciding to limit your work hours to 40 per week, spending time with family or friends twice a month, or getting to bed by 01:00 a.m.
Striving for this kind of normality may seem obvious, but people who become obsessed with their large projects can easily come to neglect the immediate short-term comfort. In that case, it will be a matter of time before you burn-out or have a mental breakdown.
When you feel stuck in the long-term daily grind, start thinking short-term to get yourself out of time debt. Enjoy your life as well occasionally.
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