One Question To Guide Any Decision

We all want to make more good decisions and less poor decisions.

I think we can also agree that we want to build out the habits in our lives that will lead to success, happiness, better health, and overall satisfaction with ourselves. The problem is that most of us struggle to make decisions each day that help us achieve those goals.

Sure, we may generally align our actions to match our goals and who we want to be. But it’s the pesky small decisions that hold us back. The small tiny, seemingly insignificant decisions that on their own may not mean much but compound into chains that bind us.

A good example commonly seen is when people set health and diet goals. So, you’ve decided you want to lose ten pounds. You start waking up early, you decide to go for a short run each morning, you invest in a pedometer and make sure you hit your daily step goal each day. You begin to see yourself as this person who exercises and is on the path to confidence and having the body you’ve dreamed of.

Then, a few weeks pass and sadly, still no abs. You’ve been exercising on schedule and you’re moving around more than you ever have. What gives?

Well, we dig in a little more and see you’ve been snacking more. Around 9PM you open up that bag of Doritos for a quick snack that turns into more calories than a meal. You open up that 4th beer and turn it up but you’re confused as to why you don’t have the body of your dreams yet.

The problem is that you’ve shifted and committed to the person you want to be, the person you see yourself as but only one aspect of your life has actually changed. Sure, you’re exercising more but that’s not who you are it’s just something you do. Your other actions such as poor diet remain unchanged by this new persona.

You haven’t committed to the new you. You haven’t truly begun to have your actions reflect this new vision of who you want to become.

Recently I finished James Clear‘s latest book Atomic Habits. The book is packed with wisdom and truly actionable steps you can take to build new habits and eliminate old ones.

One of the most powerful action items I got from the whole book was one simple question you should ask yourself before you make any decision.

Does this action align with the person I want to be?

If you ask yourself this before doing anything you’ll be able to keep your idea of your best self in mind before you do anything that may derail you from that.

If you want to see yourself as the type of person who exercises and prioritizes health ask yourself when you reach for the chips. “Does eating an entire bag of chips at 9 PM align with this version of who I am striving to be?” The answer is simply no.

By asking yourself this question you remind yourself of the person you strive to be. You keep that better self in mind before you do something that may cause you to take a step back.

If you’ve committed to learning more and expanding your knowledge base when you sit down at night will you reach for the remote or for that book you’ve been meaning to read? “Am I the type of person who sits down and watches 4 hours of TV at night or am I the type of person who reads and learns in their downtime?”

Posing this question really puts things in perspective at a micro-level. This puts real thought behind each of your decisions and also marks this decision so it can be recalled easily versus something that is done mindlessly and easily forgotten. Then, when you look back at what you’ve actually accomplished you can remember these choices and why you are or are not making progress towards your goals.

This one powerful question will keep you on track and help guide your micro-decisions to ensure they compound into real results.

Next time you’re about to do something, stop and ask…

Does this action align with the person I want to be?



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