I was reading a book the other day, and the author made an interesting point about personal power and decision-making. Basically, the author connected personal power to making more decisions. Every day, every moment, we have the power to make decisions about (1) what we are going to focus on, (2) how we will make meaning of what happens to us, and (3) what we are going to do.
Giving Up Our Power
But a lot of times in our life, we give up this power. We aren’t consciously making decisions and directing our lives. Instead, we get blown this way or that by our circumstances and outside events. We’re unhappy with our lives, but we aren’t even sure how we got here.
Make More Decisions
The author suggested a simple intervention to improve our personal power: make more decisions. It sounds almost too simple, but I’ve been trying it, and it has really helped me.
I observed myself for a few days, and I was shocked by the number of times I avoided making decisions, even about simple things. “What do you want to do for dinner?” my wife asked me. Automatically, I responded, “I don’t care, what do you want to do?” Now, this was an unimportant example, but as I observed myself throughout my day, it happened over and over again, even on important matters (e.g., “Should we put an offer in on this house?”). What was going on here?
The problem with avoiding decision-making is that making decisions is how we impact our lives in a positive way. We make a decision, and then observe the effects of our decision. If the effects are good, we learn and can make a similar decision in the future. If the effects are bad, we still learn, and can do something different in the future. Either way, we learn, grow, and move forward in our lives.
But if we don’t make a decision, we avoid all that growing and learning. Either someone else makes the decision for us, or our circumstances dictate what we do or don’t do. There’s no learning, no growth, no moving forward.
Making Decisions and Personal Power
Even more importantly, every time we proactively make a decision, our personal power increases a little bit. The link in our mind that connects our decisions with a noticeable impact in the world is strengthened each time we make a decision. And that’s a good thing.
This is why it’s important to help our kids make decisions at a young age, as soon as they are able. We want to teach our kiddos that they have the power to make a decision and impact the world. It’s one of the most important pieces of learning a kid can have growing up.
For today, don’t worry so much about what decision is “right” or “correct.” Just focus on making more decisions. If you catch yourself avoiding a decision or saying, “I don’t care,” stop yourself. Practice making a decision, even about something small. Little by little, you will get better at making decisions and your personal power will increase.