The Decision is Already Made: A Tool

Never underestimate the power of a single decision.

How many times have you told yourself you were going to lose weight and ended up frustrated with how little progress you have made, I mean you totally stopped eating breakfast, well except for Waffle House on Saturday mornings? I mean who wants to live if you have to give up Scattered, Smothered, Carbed and Fatted?

Guess what?

You will lose weight when you decide to.

You will quit smoking when you decide to.

You will get more sleep when you decide to.

You will have courage when you decide to.

And probably not before.

Otherwise, if you have not truly decided, you are just trying. Not doing.

Just ask Yoda.

Let’s do some Case Studies

First, think of a case where you accomplished or made great progress toward accomplishing a goal or a habit, and write it down. Next to that write down a goal that you have had for a while but don’t seem to make any real progress on. Under each case jot down your responses to the following questions:

  • Do you remember first coming up with this goal? Maybe it was the first time you included it in a list of goals, or maybe it was a New Year’s resolution, or told someone it was your dream? If you can remember the context, how or why it became a goal, write that down.
  • Have you committed and recommitted to this goal and gotten derailed, distracted, disengaged more than once?
  • Now, describe for yourself the moment when you said to yourself: “That’s it. I will do this thing whatever or however long it takes.”
  • After your ‘That’s It’ moment, how many times have you gotten derailed on your way to the goal?

Take a look at the two case studies. Did the ‘That’s It’ decision help you bulldoze through obstacles and change your behavior landscape? What was the outcome when there was no hard core decision to change?

We often wonder why we achieve some goals and not others. What if the moment of the hard-core-that’s-it decision is the inflection point?  How does this insight impact both your goal making and goal achieving? As Scott Adams the creator of Dilbert says, “If you are not willing to pay the price, it is only a wish.”

I use this tool to help me keep the promises I make to myself.

The Decision is Already Made

A Simple Guide to Achieving a Goal

  1. Be realistic with yourself about the price.
  2. Be realistic with yourself about the downstream impact of not paying the price. I mean, there’s a reason it’s a goal. Imagine yourself doing the work and achieving the goal in a year. Where are you? What are you doing? How do you feel? How do you look? Then imagine yourself a year down the path of 20% to 80% commitment. Did you reach your goal? Did you put the time to good use or is it gone, wasted.
  3. If you truly think you are willing to pay the price AND if you are sick of the lack of positive results, and you are sick of the price of not meeting the goal,
  4. You Decide, That’s It!  You are done with failure. You will keep your commitment. Every day.
  5. That probably won’t work. You probably are not 100% committed and you know it’s a fake decision. You may tell yourself it is real; if you are honest, you know you aren’t there yet.
  6. What about when you thiiiiiiink you might be ready but you aren’t sure. Here is a workaround: Tell yourself, The Decision Is Already Made.
  7. Go back to #4 and instead say, “The Decision is already made,” as if it had been made for you and or you really were ready to make the commitment.
  8. When faced with hummus or similar obstacles, say to yourself, the Decision is Already Made.

Does this work? Not perfectly but it helps me. Here’s how:

It helps me Pre-Commit

As in the above example, I have come to know that I really won’t lose the weight until I am fully committed, no exceptions, no excuses, no breaks. Otherwise, I will just be trying. I will be being good Monday through Thursday and making exceptions on Saturday. Or eating the right dinner, but caving when it comes to a snack of hummus and pita chips. And I will lose two pounds, gain one back, almost getting there but not really getting there. Instead getting frustrated, complaining all the while that I am trying so hard. In reality, I have not made the decision to fully commit, to pay the full price to lose weight. In this case, where I realize that I am not completely committed, sometimes I try the workaround. I pre-commit: I inform myself, the decision is already made.

It helps me Commit

The Decision is Already Made tool also works great when you can’t seem to make a decision, big or small. Could be, I just can’t seem to decide what I should make for my dinner party on Saturday night; could be, can I admit that my spouse is an alcoholic. When I find myself unable to decide, flipping back and forth from option to option to option, like I’m switching seats on a seesaw, I use the Decision is Already Made tool here as well. Interestingly, I will do this before the decision has to be made, when I still have some time. I pick one of the options and tell myself the Decision is Already Made. Then I go about my life for the next day or so, and whenever I begin to churn about what I should really do, I remind myself that the decision is made. I create for myself a chance to see if I like the decision or find I have regrets. I usually find that I’m good with the option I chose.

It helps me Re-Commit

Running is my main method of exercising. At the same time, I hate running for reasons previously covered ad-nauseum in prior posts. I run three times three times a week. And since I am not a morning person (see prior rants), that means I’m not likely to run before work and I have to run on Saturdays and Sundays. Who wants to ruin their weekend running? I mean you could be sailing, hitting up Chick fil A for a chicken biscuit, cleaning out the fridge, all kinds of things more fun than running. Except here’s the thing. It’s not a question of whether I will run on Saturdays and Sundays. The Decision is Already Made. The only question is when.

I once read, confidence comes from keeping the promises you make to yourself.

Ask yourself, do you want to be a Wisher or a Decider?
Is that up in the air for you, or is the Decision Already Made?

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