September 12, 2018
Years ago I heard a statement that embedded itself in my mind and has impacted me ever since: “Life is really just made up of four or five major decisions, and we spend the rest of our lives managing them.” That hit me squarely between the eyes as a young man. I had already made the decision to follow Christ with my whole heart. I looked around me and saw it as the best decision to avoid disaster. I was not yet married, and I realized the choice of a life partner would have a major impact on how well my life went. You get the picture. Basically, this powerful truth influenced me to manage decisions to avoid hardship and tragedy. I’m so grateful! The decisions to follow Jesus unreservedly and to marry Patty are still the two best decisions of my life. I have averted much sorrow and gained much joy because of them.
But life and experience have shown me another vital opportunity with decisions. We need to not only AVOID bad decisions, we need to manage our good decisions so that the potential in them can actually come to fruition. Many times in business life, personal life, and even spiritually we think and pray and make a conscious, deliberate decision for good. But the positive results of that decision stall, fail to produce, or even go backward—not because the decision was bad, but because we don’t follow through.
How many times have you lain in bed and decided to get up, but you didn’t? Or decided to lose weight, but you actually gained a couple pounds? A decision is worthless without follow-up. We have to actually follow up our decision with solid decision management or we lose out and don’t experience what God has for us.
In January we all said we want this to be the best, most productive year of our lives. In September we re-visit that mindset as school starts again, and we say we are going to finish strong. On a daily basis we decide to have a good day, but often times we don’t even know what we mean? What does a good day look like? And how can I make sure I have a good day?
The only way for our decisions to result in the outcome we desire is to understand that what I do this hour impacts the next hour. What I do today is a determinant of what my tomorrow looks like. When I waste time today, I am actually squandering my life. Benjamin Franklin reminds us, “Time is the stuff life is made of.” It is priceless and irreplaceable. It is the only currency we have to work with; the time we have today.
So, the way I have a good day today and tomorrow, the way I manage my decisions for success and to give them the best chance of coming to pass is to manage my daily schedule and agenda well. Most of us are with our time like we are with our money. We have no handle on it, so we don’t really know where it goes. Just as you need a budget to manage your money, you need a daily agenda to manage your time. I’m not just simply talking about making a daily to-do list, although that’s a start. I don’t just advise you to get a life-planner and use it, although that is certainly a good step.
John Maxwell explains the way he manages life this way, and recommends it to us: “I want you to embrace what may be a whole new approach to life. Make the decision once, and then manage it daily. There are only a handful of important decisions that people need to make in their entire lifetimes. Does that surprise you? Most people complicate life and get bogged down in decision-making. My goal has always been to make it as simple as possible. I’ve boiled the big decisions down to twelve things. Once I’ve made those twelve decisions, all I have to do is manage how I’ll follow through on them. If you make decisions in those key areas once and for all—and then manage those decisions daily—you can create the kind of tomorrow you desire. Successful people make right decisions early and manage those decisions daily.”
In his book, Today Matters, John shares the twelve areas of life where he has made big, overarching decisions, and then every day as he plans his day, he considers and puts in his agenda anything that must happen NOW to ensure the results he wants later:
1. Attitude– It is important to step back and evaluate your current attitude, especially when you are dealing with stress.
2. Priorities– Make sure you work on the things that are most important daily. It is easy for us to get caught up with the urgent.
3. Health– Evaluate your eating, and make time for exercise and personal care.
4. Family– Family can easily end up at the bottom of the to-do list. Make sure to spend time on what is really important in life—your family.
5. Thinking– Spend at least one hour each day in reflection. Clear your mind and think blue sky. Take the time each day to strategize and plan.
6. Commitment– Make sure that any promises you have made are being acted upon and any items you have delegated are on schedule.
7. Finances– Be wise with every expenditure. Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University can help you.
8. Faith– Time with God is essential. Strengthen your spiritual foundation.
9. Relationships– Life is about relationships. Monitor your relationship status.
10. Generosity– Spend time each day giving thanks for all the great people and things in your life. Then think how you can express that gratitude
today. Write a hand-written thank-you note.
11. Values– Review your core values and make sure that your daily activities are in alignment. Eliminate anything that doesn’t fit.
12.Growth– Find ways to learn each day, either through new experiences or active learning. For example, if you know you will be traveling all
day, make sure to bring along an iPod filled with eBooks or podcasts.
Making a decision is a great start. But you have to manage it through your daily values and schedule. Get on top of them. Make sure there is something more important you do every day as a matter of certainty than brushing your teeth. 😊