The brain is an incredible machine capable of keeping millions of people, places, and things in order while constantly ensuring that all of your body systems are running smoothly to keep you alive.
According to some reputable studies, adult humans make approximately 35,000 decisions each day. To put this in context, a small child makes only about 3,000 choices on a daily basis. It takes years and years of focused decision-making practice to be able to foresee the future consequences of a choice while simultaneously reflecting on past experiences to make the most optimal decision between the sometimes infinite number of possibilities.
This power to weigh the benefits against the potential risks of a decision is an advanced and uniquely human ability.
Most of us are painfully unaware of the choices we make.
Our brains have become so adept at maintaining homeostasis that we don’t even consciously recognize each option as a distinctive decision anymore. If you have ever driven to work on autopilot or eaten an entire meal without tasting it, you have fallen victim to this unconscious decision-making disease.
Of course, it would be highly impractical, illogical, and exhausting to be cognizant of every tiny choice we make on a daily basis- but it is safe to say that there are hundreds of scenarios in which we could be (and should be) actively choosing but are lazily delegating the task to our unconscious system.
In his book, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy magnifies this decision debacle and shines a strong light on the long term impact of all of the “seemingly insignificant” choices we make while “sleepwalking through life.”
Every time we take the elevator instead of the stairs, eat a burger instead of a salad, or watch one more episode instead of calling it a night, we are making a series of choices that ultimately add up to form the outcome of our lives.
However, knowing that we need to become more responsible for our choices and actually taking this responsibility are two entirely different beasts.
If you’re ready to own your free will and commit to making deliberate decisions, the following tips will help you take action today.
Tip #1: Become Aware
There are people who watch things happen, people who make things happen, and people who stand there and say, ‘What happened?’ — Curt Brinkman
In order to make thoughtful choices, one must first introspect and reflect.
The last thing you want to be doing as the curtain closes on another day is to get into bed saying, “what happened today?”
In looking to achieve self-awareness, some individuals find it helpful to meditate and study their intentions, others notice that reading powerful books really makes them think about their choices, and still others take strategic courses to learn new skills and understand their abilities in a more holistic way. Whichever your awareness method is, find it and live it.
Tip #2: Work Harder Than You Want To
Darren Hardy, who is a well-known executive performance coach, had about the difference between successful people and everyone else:
“What do successful people and unsuccessful people have in common? They both hate to do what it takes to be successful- successful people just do it anyway.”
— Darren Hardy
There is a common myth that successful people love working. It is as if everyone assumes that successful people have some magic power that allows them to enjoy making a ton of cold calls, getting up at 5 AM to workout, or attain full satisfaction from getting rejected when they pitch new ideas.
Here is the secret, no one on earth likes sacrificing and working tirelessly. However, the people who are willing to overlook their short term satisfaction for their long term happiness are able to put their feelings aside and perform consistently when everyone else wants to throw in the towel.
Tip #3: Emulate Winners
”Hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” — Warren Buffet
We have all heard a version of the following saying: you become the sum total of the 5 friends you hang out with the most. If you hang out with unambitious people you can feel their bad habits rubbing off on to you.
The same is true for success. When you hang out with people who are smarter and more resourceful than you are, you feel compelled to raise your game to their high standards.
Buffet offers a practical piece of advice for engaging in this success principle when he says that you should pick a person whom you respect and admire, someone who is doing all of the things you want to do, and copy their moves/ outlook and attitude towards life and challenging circumstances.
When you emulate winners you learn how to believe what they believe, act the way they do and find the motivation you need to level up.
Take Action Today
Reading about success principles is a great way to get motivated but you can’t win a game by watching from the sidelines. If you want to achieve real success you have to put the concepts you learn into focused and intentional action.