What to do when there aren’t enough hours in the day, when the bills are piling up, when tensions with work, family, friends, goals, and dreams press in and crowd out our ability to make good decisions?
The two most defining words in the dictionary:
I used to believe that the older I would get, the wiser I would become. I thought, with age, decision-making would become easier. Wrong. As I get older, as I expand my circle of friends, as I make good decisions and my influence grows, it seems that almost every choice becomes more complicated. More people are involved and affected, I understand the context of diverse situations, and the demands on my time continue to grow.
Suddenly, the words “yes” and “no” have taken on greater significance. What I choose to say “yes” or “no” to will define what I do in life, how others perceive me, and how I will be remembered. These two small words are the most defining words in the dictionary.
In an age of wanting more, doing more, and showing more of what we do every moment of every day, we want to say “yes” to every opportunity that presents itself. But this is not possible. In fact, when we say “yes” to everything, we don’t really become anything, do we? I have found that instead, the more I say “no” to things, greater opportunities emerge. Learn how well you know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” by taking a quick 5-minute quiz. Go to nuTOOLS and scroll to the bottom of the page.
So how do we figure out what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to? I recommend creating a process for making big decisions.
1. Explore the Options.
We often see a very limited perspective of what could be. It is important to consider what all the possible options may be. Try to include the most unreasonable options in your process, because they could cause you to think of new solutions. Then process the good and the bad of all the options to find the most reasonable few.
2. Understand Who is Influenced.
Every major decision we make will cause other people’s lives to change in some way. Sometimes they are people very close to us, and other times they are very distant in relationship; but other people are always affected by our personal choices. Take time to process what your decision will do to the lives around you, get clarity on what could happen, and consider others in your choice.
3. Invite Others to the Table.
Once you understand your options and the people this decision affects, it is time to receive feedback from trusted advisers on how to move forward. Who are the people you can invite to the table to speak into your major decisions? Ask trusted friends, wise mentors, and respected peers to help you process your options.
4. Name Your Fears.
Don’t be under the illusion that you will not be afraid. For some, fear is a constant companion, barking at our heels as we strive to do things no one has done in quite the same way. Fear has existed since the Fall in Genesis. Many good decisions will be hounded by our greatest fears, but fear never makes good choices. Name your fears and do not let it make your choices.
5. Make Time for Solitude.
You can’t know the future and you definitely cannot control the future, but you must move forward toward a decision. This is the time to seek spiritual guidance and clarify what you truly believe about the decision. Stop everything to ponder and pray. Take all the information you have gathered through this process, and begin to understand what you feel is most important. Seek God to clearly give you direction through prayer and listening.
6. Take a Step Forward.
At this point, you have to make a choice. You can’t know the future and you definitely cannot control the future, but you must move forward toward a decision. Use your understanding, the wisdom from God and others, and take action.
Humans are uniquely gifted with freedom of choice. From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, people chose each day whom they would serve or not serve, and what they would do with the days God granted them. God has prepared so many good works for us to do; the world waits for us to bring our light to the problems we see.
As you consider your next major decision, I hope and pray these principles help you become a better decision-maker so that together, those of us following Jesus will be known for the problems we solve.