I’m sure this topic has been discussed to death on many a blog and in many a book. However, I feel like this is a topic that cannot be discussed enough.
Being a free and independent person requires you to make more decisions than any one else. At the expense of getting on my soapbox, this is becoming more and more difficult for people to do. The comforts of settling, combined with the overwhelm of too many “shallow” choices, have given us the illusion that were are forced to lead lives of quiet desperation.
It does not have to be this way.
Making decisions, no matter how big or small, no matter how easy or how difficult, tell the world around you that you are powerful and that you are able to do things for yourself.
A decision, for me, means that permanent change is taking place. Allow me to provide an example. My headphones were cutting in and out in my phone and it was quite annoying. I needed new headphones. So I did the following:
The thumbnail says it all. I threw the headphones out. Now I MUST buy new ones, there’s no going back.
THAT is how to make a decision, that is how strong individuals make decisions. I could have just kept the old headphones and shopped around for new ones but never getting new ones like a weak person would. But no. I was committed to getting new headphones, so I am MAKING myself get new headphones. This may sound silly, but it applies to more than just easily replaceable materials.
Now, does this apply to all decisions? Yes, and no. It really depends on how this decision is going to affect you. In the headphones example, my decision was pretty much negligible in the context of my survival. I can do without headphones for awhile. But deciding on something else that could actually affect you? There’s a little more planning that goes into that. However, the same action applies. When you are ready to make the decision, you must (in a metaphysical sense) throw away that old thing, and either replace it or never go back to it.
Making permanent decisions, no matter how big or small, requires commitment on your part. And in some cases, these decisions are not as “permanent” as you think.
For example, you can always replace possessions. In terms of profession or schooling changes, those fields will always be there and they will never go away. You can always go back. This is why I took so much time off school. It wasn’t going to just magically disappear or anything, and I knew that I could just return. Its why left my job. I can just get a job somewhere else, just as easily as I can buy new headphones in most cases. So when someone says that they made a big decision when they quit their job or something, I just shrug. All you did was just throw away a possession, really. That’s right, when you quit your job or school, you were just throwing away a set of headphones in a metaphysical sense.
So the burning question must be asked: What ARE big decisions?
Lifestyle changes. THOSE are big decisions. Those are the decisions that are truly permanent. And yes, I understand that the way you use possessions and your schooling/profession are part of a lifestyle. But like I mentioned earlier, those are only on the surface. Your habits, principles, values, and opinions/beliefs. These are things that really shape someone’s way of life. These are things that most decisions are built on. And this is a descending order, by the way. Meaning:
Your habits are physical expressions of your principles, values, and opinions/beliefs.
Your principles are values of yours that you will not compromise (rules).
Your values are personal guidelines that you have developed through your opinions and your beliefs.
And your opinions and beliefs are observations of others, and your feelings on them.
Do you want to know why our decision making skills often suck? Its because we skip the process of exploring our principles and values. If this sounds like something out of an Anthony Robbins book or seminar, that’s because it kind of is. If bad, or unproductive habits are “running your life” its because you probably don’t have a backbone of principles and values. Or even worse, you do have that backbone, but those principles and values are nihilistic in nature, meaning you have stopped caring about your future or well being and have given up on things. This is dangerous, because now your vices have made all the decisions for you. This is probably why there is so much addiction in the world.
Lifestyle changes are the only decisions that truly matter in the end. We live in a world where it is acceptable (and even preferred!) to jump from job to job, so the concept of a “career” is fading fast. That’s why I earlier compared a job to a set of headphones. Your job should never be a significant part of your lifestyle (unless you like it that way).
Here’s how to make a lifestyle change properly. Notice I said A lifestyle change, not several. If you attempt to change too many things, then you won’t change anything. You’ll get overwhelmed and you’ll begin making stupid rationalizations. In order to do this properly, you’ll need at least two uninterrupted hours, something to write with, and something to write on. Also, put yourself in a place with next to no distractions, like a beach or a forest. If you are using your laptop, phone, or tablet to do your writing, put the device in airplane mode or whatever mode exists where you can use your notes/word processing app, but not get notifications. No substances (aside from food and drink) are allowed. So no booze, tobacco, hash, pills or any kind of “drug.”
-First, list off all the activities that you do in your daily life that are not necessary (so do not include hygiene, nourishment, cleaning, and rest). Each and every one. Don’t get crazy detailed, just list everything you do that isn’t productive. Be honest with yourself and don’t rationalize.
-Then, one by one, identify activities that take up the most time, and determine if they are productive or not. Be brutally honest with yourself and ask the tough questions that you don’t want to ask: Do you need to do these things? Could you be doing something else that is more productive? If I kept doing this for five years straight, what would happen? Is my job holding me back? Hold nothing back and don’t be afraid to get emotional.
If you realize that because you watch three hours of porn a day and because of that, you blew opportunities with the opposite sex and that makes you mad or sad, then express yourself. Write down how you feel and be psychotically detailed. Drag your own name through the mud if you must. This is why I said leave yourself at least two uninterrupted hours. From this list, select the one thing that is the least productive (takes the most effort out of your day with the least amount of return, or provides the cheapest forms of instant gratification).
-After doing this, now you can whip out your phone and get on social networking. But instead of dicking around complaining about politics or laughing at memes, ask anyone important to you the following: if they could make you stop doing one thing what would it be? If they could make you do one thing, what would it be? Do this now while everything is still fresh in your mind, unless its the middle of the night or something. Collect their responses, and compare their responses to the work you did in step two. This will help identify the ONE thing you should stop doing.
-By now you should have that ONE thing. Now, take an entire day and do nothing but that ONE thing (except drugs, because ODing and stuff). You can’t do anything else on that list you made in step two. “Wait a minute,” you ask. “Isn’t this about STOPPING that one thing? How is doing this one thing in excess going to make you stop?” Because this one day will be the last day you ever do it. If its porn, you will block all things pornographic from each device you own. If its drugs, they are getting thrown away (and if your addiction is so bad that you are hurting yourself and others, you’re checking yourself or someone is checking you into rehab). If its video games, they are getting sold or thrown away, ALL OF THEM.
Your goal is to absolutely hate this one thing and having you do nothing but this one thing for an entire day will probably make you want to stop doing it. Look, I love video games, but if that was the ONLY thing I could do for an entire day, I would hate them forever. Can you imagine watching NOTHING but pornography, for a whole day? Holy Christ.
-On that day, you will also create a new you, someone who isn’t doing that one thing. I don’t care how bad your writing is, but write what I call “your own fanfiction (or draw a graphic novel if that is your thing).” This is going to be a mini autobiography, and you will talk about how things were if you didn’t have this one bad habit holding you back. So because you didn’t watch three hours of porn a day, you went on amazing dates, had great sex, and had very meaningful relationships. Because you didn’t develop that drug addiction, your kids weren’t snatched from you. Because you didn’t sit on your ass playing video games mechanically for 12 hours a day you were able to become a second coming of Stan Lee, and are now the CEO for one of the hottest independent comic franchises today. In fact, on Tuesday you have to meet with him in LA to discuss making one of your comics a movie!
Fortunately, I have never had to go all the way through this process but I know people who would benefit from it very much. And there will probably come a day where I will have to. That day is fast approaching. Never forget that the things you do shape who you are. You are made up of habits that, if you have strong values, principles, and beliefs, are very much malleable and controllable.
Make the decision to make good decisions that will make the rest of your life the best it can ever be.