The Decisions You Make, Make You

Research shows that the average person makes 35,000 decisions…a day! Assuming 7 hours of sleep each day that leaves 17 hours. That makes for a little over 2000 decisions an hour or one decision every two seconds. 

After seeing that research the first decision I made was to decide the researchers must be nuts. If we’re all making 35,000 decisions a day then we can’t be doing anything else. But then I made another decision to read a bit further. The article said decisions include things like deciding to read further in an article. Deciding to ignore a text notification while reading. Deciding to shift my position in the chair I was reading in. 

So whether we really make 35,000 decisions a day or not, it became clear to me that we make a whole lot more decisions than we are actually aware of. Some of those decisions have very little impact on our lives. Others have a major impact. And many, perhaps very many, we won’t understand their impact for years. 

I suspect many of the “outcomes” of our decisions we never tie back to a decision at all. But this much I’m certain of…the better the decisions we make the better the life we make as well. 

We make many huge decisions without ever considering the impact and consequences they could, or will, have on our lives. That’s because we often don’t realize how big some of our everyday decisions are.

For example, the decision about the people you allow into your life. You are the compilation of the five people you most frequently interact with. Yet for most of us we never even consider the influence other people have on our lives. We allow negative people, people who procrastinate, people who find a problem with every solution into our lives and then wonder why we struggle to be the person we want to be. 

If you want to be more successful then hang out with successful, positive and supportive people. 

I see salespeople all the time who when deciding to make one more sales call on a given day or knock off early they choose knocking off early. That’s a terrible choice in most every case. They limit their success, they limit their career and they limit their income. Salespeople who make that poor choice even a handful of times a month will need to work years to make up the lost income. But when deciding when their day will end they almost never consider the long-term consequences. 

The first step to making better decisions is realizing how many decisions you actually make. 

Little decisions, like deciding between a plain Hershey Bar or a Hershey Bar with Almonds won’t be life altering. But it’s likely that more decisions than you think will indeed have a long-term impact on your life. The most successful people consider the consequences of the consequences before making those decisions. 

You are potentially one choice away from a completely different life. There are two types of people in the world, those who believe their life is largely the sum of their choices and those who believe their life is chosen for them by the lottery of circumstances. 

If you don’t believe that then it’s likely you’re in the second group. If you’re interested in success that’s not the group you want to be in. 

Accept responsibility for your choices and you’ll be accepting responsibility for your life. 

Five Choices that Change Everything

People who know more than me about the human body could tell you exactly what it’s made of. The chemical compositions, the percentages of muscle vs fat, (or at least what it should be) and all sorts of other cool stuff. 

But all that “stuff” makes you alive. It does not make your life. 

Your life is made from the choices you make. Every big choice and every small choice determines the quality and even the length of your life. 

If you’re like most people you don’t realize how many choices you make each day. You choose what time to wake up. You choose your attitude, and if you don’t choose your attitude then you choose to allow other people and other things to choose it for you. You choose what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to say, what to listen to. Who to listen to. What to watch on TV. When to go to bed and hundreds of other decisions wedged between those. 

One thing most us seldom think about is the fact that our minds take in everything we see, everything we hear and everything we read. It all influences what we think and those thoughts determine our actions. 

All, yes all, as in every single one, of those choices are influenced by the people you spend the most time with. Your life is basically a compilation of the lives of the five people you’re around the most. 

If you believe that you are influencing them and that they are not influencing you then I’m guessing you may also be excited about an upcoming visit from the Easter Bunny. 

There are some choices in life that only you control and five of those choices are the people you allow to be closest to you. Those are the five choices that can change every other choice you make in life. These are the people considered to be your “inner circle.” 

Are you allowing unmotivated people to be a big part of your life? If you are then I can also guarantee you that you have motivational issues. You likely can’t seem to get started on the things you say that you want to accomplish. That’s because your natural motivation is being negatively impacted by unmotivated people close to you. 

If you’re allowing negative people into your inner circle then I can be fairly certain that other people around you see you as a negative person, even if you don’t. Pandemics have been in the news a bit lately but nobody talks about the Pandemic of negativity all around us. Negative attitudes are as contagious as any virus that has ever existed and masks do nothing to stop it. The only way to avoid catching negativity is to stay away from it. 

It is a worthy effort to try and infect a negative person who a strong dose of positivity. Understand the contagion you’re dealing with however and make certain you keep some space between yourself and the person you’re trying to help. 

Invest some serious time right now to consider the people who you are closest to. Are they helping you and supporting your efforts to have a better more meaningful life? Are they a good influence on you or do they overpower your good intentions? Be honest!

If you want a better life you may need to make some tough choices. You may need to say goodbye to some of your friends. Even though some of your friends may mean you no harm they may be harming you with their choices…because you are influenced and impacted by them. 

The number of people you allow into your personal inner circle may also be less then five. If you determine you currently know only 3 people capable of being “builders of you” then 3 people is the perfect number. Don’t let a couple of nattering nabobs of negativity into your inner circle just so you have a circle of 5. 

Surround yourself with as many positive, caring and supportive people as you can find. Make sure the five people closest to you fully match the positive, caring and supportive criteria. The quality of your life depends on it. 

Your Best Day

What exactly would it take for this day to be “your best day ever?” Maybe winning the lottery? Being proposed to? Getting that huge promotion you’ve been working for? Maybe the birth of your first child? Or better yet, the birth of your first grandchild?

There are so many things that can make a day great that we can’t even think of them all. But here’s one that we don’t think of often enough… that we should.

To make today great decide that today will be great!

I know that sounds a bit simplistic however it’s anything but easy. There is no more important a choice you can make to begin each day than the choice of a positive attitude. That’s not always an easy choice.

For starters it must be a conscious choice. If we don’t intentionally make a decision to choose a positive attitude then other people and other things WILL make the choice for us. They seldom make a positive choice.

When trying to make that choice focus on what’s going well. Think about what you have and not on what you don’t. If trying to focus on the “good stuff” doesn’t work then remember the immortal words of Yoda, “No! Try not! Do or do not, there is no try.”

Then DO make the choice of a positive attitude!

If you can start your day on a positive footing it makes every thing else you’re going to do that day easier. If fact, a positive attitude makes everything better. It makes everything easier. It energizes your thoughts and your actions. It supercharges your relationships and helps you positively influence others.

When you choose a positive attitude you can turn what looks like a rough day into a positively great day. You see, all it takes to make any day your best day is a decision.

What will you decide?

What Else Could Go Right?

I recommend to writers that they NOT begin a post or an article with a disclaimer. This is going to be another example of a post where I do not follow my own advice because this is a post that is going to, has to, begin with a disclaimer.

Because this is a post about maintaining a positive attitude. That’s something I struggle with. I know it’s importance but I too often allow my choice of a positive attitude to be overwhelmed by the circumstances I find myself in. That’s not good for me and it’s not good for the people around me.

I want to offer that disclaimer as a way of not appearing as a total fraud to those who know me best. The fact that I can’t always maintain control over my attitude is no reason not to try. The same goes for you. So here we go!

You’ve probably heard or said yourself, “what else could go wrong.” It’s most often said in a very dejected tone of voice when problems just continue to pile up. It sometimes seems as if everything that could could go wrong already has. That’s when we start looking for things that are wrong.

That makes it very difficult to choose a positive attitude. Yes, your attitude is your choice and no one and nothing can rob you of that choice. But here’s the thing, to maintain a positive attitude you MUST make that choice. If you don’t consciously make the choice of a positive attitude then the choice of a negative attitude will be made for you by whatever circumstances you find yourself in.

We do not subconsciously choose a positive attitude. That choice must be made consciously and it must be made frequently. Failure to make that choice leads to a negative attitude, whether you realize it or not.

Researchers say the average person has 40,000 thoughts a day. I don’t know how they can figure that out but here’s what really concerns me. They also say that of those 40,000 thoughts over 80% of them are negative. That’s a whole lot of negativity going on in our heads and it won’t be overcome without intentionally fighting to overcome it.

So how about this. How about when “things” start going bad instead of asking “what else could go wrong?” we start asking, “what else could go right?”

How about we start looking for the good. The good in a particular situation or the good in a particularly difficult person. No matter the circumstances something good is never that far away. You only have to make yourself look!

Now if that sounds all Pollyanna to some of you especially negative people reading this then I have a message for you.

You can easily find something wrong with very little effort. If you want to find something right it can take a little more effort but something right is there. And this much I can promise you from my personal experience… on the days you successfully choose a positive attitude everything and everyone around you seems, looks, acts and is in fact, better.

Every aspect of your life is affected by your attitude. Either you control it or it will control you. That’s a scary thought for some people but it’s a fact and it’s also a fact that the choice is yours.

 

The Better Choice

Life is all about choices. The fact is, regardless of the circumstances you were born into better choices result in a better life. 

 

While success is a relative term the most successful people simply made better choices to get there. Your own level of success is clearly impacted by your starting point in life. If you’ve added on to whatever you started with then you’ve experienced at least some measure of success in your life. That is most likely due in part to the choices you’ve made in life. 

 

But here’s a choice many people don’t too often consider…it’s the choice to be better everyday. It’s the conscious choice that says today I will do something to be better than I was yesterday. 

 

What did you do today to better yourself? What are you planning to do tomorrow? What about yesterday? How about the day before that or the day before that? How many days has it been since you could specifically say what action you took, intentionally, to improve one area of your life? 

 

Even if it’s reading one page from a book it can help. Even a 5 minute walk is better than no walk. Skipping that coffee stop on the way to work a couple of days a week could have a significant impact on your overall financial well-being. 

 

Choices that look little can turn out to be huge. 

 

One choice, even a small choice, to take action each day to improve yourself could add up to a gigantically better life and ultimately huge success. 


So start making that choice this very day. It’s the choice I call the better choice because it’s all about being better, even just a little better, today than you were yesterday. When you make that choice today then tomorrow will be better because of it. 

Control What You Can

This is likely to be one of the shortest posts I’ve ever written. That’s because it’s about controlling the things in your life that you have control over. Complete control. 

 

There aren’t many of those things. Here are the ones that come to mind.

 

You have complete and total control over your level of professionalism. It doesn’t matter what your colleagues are doing, it doesn’t matter what your clients or customers are doing. It makes no difference what industry you’re in or what position you hold in your organization. Whether you’re in the mail room or the executive office YOU decide the level of professionalism that you will exhibit at ALL times. 

 

We do not get to choose our family but we most certainly get to choose our friends. You have complete control over the people outside of your family that you allow into your life. Since you are basically the compilation of the five people you spend the most time with it is imperative that you choose your friends well. 

 

If you choose to hang around negative people you will be a negative person. If you choose to spend large amounts of your time with people who lack integrity then you will lack integrity. If you believe you can consistently swim against the current of the environment you place yourself in then you are fooling yourself. Control who you allow into your life or the people in your life will control you. 

 

No matter where you live, no matter how you live, and no matter the circumstances and obstacles that have been placed before you, your attitude is and always will be your choice. You have complete and total control over your attitude every waking moment.

 

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. In his fantastic book “Man’s Search for Meaning” he describes the choice of attitude as the last of the human freedoms. His point is this; all other freedoms are perishable, they can be taken from you. The only freedom that can never be taken from you is the choice of a positive attitude. 

 

You may disagree with that but think about it…is your situation really worse than being imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp? If Viktor Frankl could control his attitude in that environment then I, and you, can certainly control ours, regardless of how difficult it may be. 

 

There are plenty of other things you have some control over but the key word there is “some.” There isn’t much you have complete control over but if success is your objective then you must control the things you can. 


And yes, I now acknowledge that this post wasn’t that short after all. 


How to Maintain a Positive Attitude

Here’s an often debated age old question… which came first, the chicken or the egg? Here’s a much newer question still often debated… which comes first, success or a positive attitude?

 

The definitive answer to that first question can be found early in the Book of Genesis. The much less definitive answer to the second question can be found in this post.

 

Many people believe that successful people have a positive attitude because they have it made. Other people believe that successful people made it because they had a positive attitude all along. 

 

Count me in the second group. A positive attitude comes before success!

 

While it might be easier to maintain a positive attitude if you’re successful that doesn’t mean it’s easy. A positive attitude requires a conscious decision to make it so. Without that conscious decision it’s very easy to drift into negativity. Sadly, negativity is all around us and we can be overwhelmed by it when we let our guard down. 

 

The good news is that with a little focus, well okay, maybe a lot of focus, anyone can have a positive attitude. 

 

That focus includes a resolve to not let “things” get you down. Decide before negativity strikes that you will respond in a constructive and positive way. I know what you’re thinking…if only it was that simple. 

 

I know that it’s not simple but it is possible and with a coach or mentor it can even be likely. It’s darn hard to overcome negative input without help so ask someone who cares about you to help. Have them remind you that you’re working on controlling your attitude. Allow them to hold you accountable until you can do it on your own.

 

Do you ever talk to yourself? You likely just did when you asked yourself that question. Everybody talks to themselves from time to time and it’s important that when you do that you’re saying something positive. That’s even more important if you happen to be talking about yourself. 

 

Remind yourself that challenges most often lead to growth and to maintain success you must keep growing. Accept challenges as learning experiences and you’ll find them a little less frustrating. I know that’s easier said than done but not much worth having comes easy. Keep that in mind.

 

Dream again! Dream your dream as if it were new. Turn your dreams into goals and develop a written plan that’s states exactly how you intend to achieve those goals. Don’t forget that there will be obstacles along the way. Your plan must include specific actions you will take to overcome those obstacles. Knowing how you’ll solve a problem before the problem even shows itself, helps to minimize the negative effects that problems in general can have on your attitude. 

 

Finish and end your day on a positive note. You may not wake up with a negative attitude but checking your email and social media as soon as you’re up can take you to your negativity zone pretty darn quick. Start your day with a bit of inspiration, both Siri and Alexa can help with that, just ask. A good breakfast will fortify your body for the day and some good positivity will do the same for your attitude. 

 

Don’t finish your day with email or social media either. I’ve started writing a single Thank You note to someone just before bed. It reminds me of all the people and things I’ve been blessed to have in my life. It’s nearly impossible to go to bed with a negative attitude when you’re thinking about how good a life you actually have. 

 

Circumstances can make choosing a positive attitude a humongous challenge but there has never in the history of humanity been a circumstance that could fully remove that choice. 


Remember that and then chose positive!