At the beginning of every journey, throughout every journey, and even before and after every journey, there are decisions that must be made. Some of them are tough while others are trivial, nonetheless, the must be made…
Will I start this journey? Will I complete this journey? What will I take on this journey? How will I behave on this journey? What if things don’t go as planned? What if they do? How will I react? What will I do after this journey? What do I expect to gain or accomplish on this journey? And so on, and so on…
That’s the funny thing about decisions: No matter how many decisions we make, there is always another one waiting for us to decide upon. And because we have to make so many decisions throughout our journeys, it is actually possible to observe patterns in our decision making and even predict our future decisions! At least according to the widely accepted cliche that “the best predictor of future performance is past performance”.
And so it goes… One decision leads to another.
In my experience, it is more accurately stated that “one bad decision leads to another (bad decision).” On the brighter side, one good decision often leads to another (good decision) as well. Knowing this, we can almost always retrace our steps through a streak of either good or bad decisions in our pasts that have brought us to our current situation. Take, for example, a successful doctor in the prime of his career. In order to be in his current situation, he would have had to make a number of consecutive “good” decisions: Graduate high school, study hard in college, take biology courses, score well on the MCATs, apply to Med School, take out student loans, graduate Med School, apply for a residency, etc. Alternatively, a person who is addicted to crystal-meth, unemployed, and homeless would have also had to have made a number of consecutive “bad” decisions: Get drunk, smoke pot, snort coke, smoke meth… Miss work to get high, steal from friends and family to buy drugs, etc.
Here’s the crazy thing about decisions: Though they are predictable, they are not predestined. Until a decision is actually made, all options are still on the table, relatively speaking. This means that at any time, though it is unlikely, the doctor can walk away from his career and start smoking meth. [or cheating on his wife, or embezzling money from the company, or committing insurance fraud, or writing bad prescriptions, etc. ] Just because he has always made good decisions in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean he will make good decisions in the future. It is up to his personal judgement and free will to make either good or bad decisions and both options are always, always available. Likewise, just because a drug addict has a track record for making bad decisions doesn’t necessarily mean that they must continue making bad decisions in the future. At any point, the addict could decide to stop doing drugs, seek help, go through rehab, go back to school, receive a degree, get a job, and become a productive member of society.
Though it is true that breaking a streak of bad decisions (like drug abuse) is difficult (some call it a disease), there are people who successfully change their decision making patterns every single day. And vice versa… People who have had decade long streaks of good decisions have also been known to break those streaks.
The sooner a bad decision streak can be broken, the easier it is to break. And whenever a good decision streak is broken, a new good-decision streak can immediately be started again (no waiting period!). As such, if you’ve been making bad decisions for years, it won’t be easy to change, but it is most definitely is possible! And if you just broke your good streak, don’t waste time wallowing. Start your new streak right away!
Now for the 50/50 questions: What bad decisions have you been making in your life that you need to stop? Even more challenging, what bad decisions are tempting you and that you are entertaining, even though you know they’re bad?
Share the answers to your tough questions a close friend and ask them to help keep you accountable.