Imagine it's been a long day at work. You just left the office and have started the long drive home. You're tired and hungry.
As you drive, the chatter in your brain keeps painfully reminding you of all the unfinished waiting for you at work tomorrow. As you weave through traffic, you turn up the music and sharpen your resolve to the mission at hand... get home as quickly as possible.
About 45 minutes into your drive, you are only 15 mins away from home. A sense of eagerness starts to creep and you excitedly press the gas pedal to go a little faster. That's when it hits you.
You blurt out "Damn it!" as you bang the steering wheel with the palm of your hand. You have no food at home.
It's now decision time.
Do you pick up fast food and get home in 15 minutes, or do you pick up a healthy meal at your favorite restaurant down the street? The only problem is the restaurant is always busy and it will take 15 mins longer to get your order. So instead of 15 minutes, you won't be home for another 30 mins.
Which way would you go?
Even though I don't know you, I can pretty much guess 9 out of 10 times you are going to choose fast food and getting home quicker. How do I know? Well, no matter how much you want to eat a healthy meal, your brain will undoubtedly find a way to convince you to get fast food.
It will first start off by telling you "It's getting really late and aren't you starving?"
Then, it will persuade you by saying, "It's been a long day. Don't you want some time to relax?"
At this point, if you are still undecided, your brain will play its final trump card. "Why don't we pick up fast food this time, and we can go to your favorite place next time."
Without a second thought, you accept the compromise and rush to pick up fast food. All while believing next time will be different.
This little story plays out in our brains every day. You and your brain locked in a thumb wrestling negotiation to see who gets their way. It not only happens with food but with every decision we make. The truth is no matter how much you want to believe that next time will be different, we all know the truth. Your brain is a master manipulator. It knows your weaknesses and will shamelessly use them against you like a con artist at a senior retirement home. No wonder that when faced with a similar situation, you are more likely to repeat the same choice again like last time. Fast forward 10 years and all that fast food has left you overweight and feeling unsatisfied.
Our brains don't always choose what is good for us. It will always find a way to convince us to pick the quickest, easiest, and most convenient path. Even if it's not the best choice for us. Sadly, convenience can lead us to a whole lot of pain and regret later. Whether we like it or not, every choice we make today will affect us many years in the future.
If making better decisions is all it takes for us to live a better life, why do we continue to make bad decisions? Why do we make the wrong choices that will lead us astray?
I believe the main reason is we've become too complacent. We're pained at the thought of feeling discomfort and having to wait for results. We avoid situations that can lead to uncertainty. We want to avoid all problems, so we prefer to ignore them or pretend they don't exist. Why worry about something today if you can put it off until tomorrow, right?
Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. Sooner or later, all our choices catch up to us. Whether it's our health, career, or relationships, where we are today is a the sum of all those past choices. Ultimately, we find our past choices are now the cause of our current pain and regret.
So if we know our future depends on the decisions we make today, how do we start making better ones now?
It is in your moments of decisions that your destiny is shaped
Making Better Decisions
The key to making better decisions is determining the outcome you want to achieve based on your values. These values are your North Star when it comes to making decisions.
Building a solid set of values will allow you to take control of your decisions. They will help you know which choices reinforce your values and which ones will take you further away from them. Once you have determined that the decision matches your values, then comes the hard part. You have to physically take action immediately towards your goal. Don't wait until later, Don't wait until tomorrow. Take action right away, or your brain will kill the idea.
One of the strategies I use to take immediate action is the 5-second rule. I learned this rule from Mel Robbins, it has been one of the most helpful things I have learned, and it changed my life. The rule is very simple to implement. Whenever you need to take action on a decision, you count down from 5 to 0, and you must physically move to take action before your brain realizes what is happening and kills the decision.
If you want to learn more about the 5-second rule, please subscribe and stay tuned for a future article on how I use it.
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