Amelia Earhart said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act.” I couldn’t agree more. I sit here in a coffee shop with my dreams and goals and all these ideas of what my life could look like if I accomplished x, y, and z…but in an hour, I’ll get up from the table, push my chair in, and walk to my car to drive on to the next task on my agenda today. Putting rubber to the road and starting is often far easier said than done. It’s different for each person, but for me, the dreaming is easy. Living out those dreams is a whole other story. I think of that saying we all grew up hearing, “Actions speak louder than words,” and my mind wanders back to all the times I have said that I was going to begin something. I thought I had made a solid decision, but when the next day rolled around, I found an excuse that made perfect sense in my head as I repeated it to myself over and over again. I think my excuses are more often about convincing myself it’s okay to not begin, rather than a need to communicate an excuse to anyone else.
Let’s unpack the depth of “the decision to act.” The dictionary defines the word “decision” as “a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration.” The word resolution stands out to me. If you were to then define what being resolute meant, the dictionary would tell you that it is “admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.”
This past Thursday, the Leadershift topic of conversation was a rubber band and the purpose it serves. Back in September of 2021 I wrote a post about this same topic. What I would like to focus on this time though is the word “decision”. If making a decision lives up to its dictionary definition, then it is marked with resolution. Traditionally, a resolution should be something you won’t faulter in. It should be something where your feet remain firmly planted, and no matter how big the storm rages around you, you don’t move. New Year’s Resolutions really kind of ruined that for us though, didn’t it? I’m not sure I personally know of a single person who has made a New Year’s Resolution and actually stuck with it the entire year. If you have though, will you do me a favor? Email me at email@example.com and tell me what your resolution was and what you did to ensure you stayed resolute with it.
A couple years ago I made a transition. I still made my list, but I simply referred to these items as my “2021 (or whatever year it is) Goals.” This made me feel better about myself when this list of mine somehow got lost a few weeks or months later. This elicits the question, “How do we make decisions and stand by them?”
Make your decisions based on conviction, not emotion. Emotions are fleeting, and I’ve discovered that when I am trying to make a change in my life based on how I am feeling in the moment, there is no way I will stand by this change long term. For example: If I decided to go on a diet because I felt “gross” or “fat” or was comparing myself to someone else, there is no guarantee I will still be feeling that as deeply the following day. However, if I decided to go on a diet because I believe I am created to live life to its fullest, and in part, that requires a healthy lifestyle and good energy levels, I’m far more likely to stick with that diet and whatever else I deem essential to make this life change because that conviction isn’t going to just disappear next week. Look at what you want to accomplish, and then identify the convictions you have surrounding that desire. Then go from there.
Mike Davidson similarly shares the importance of writing down your “why’s”. Why do you do what you do? When you list as many why’s as possible around the decision you need to make, your conviction will be driven home, and you’ll have a resolute mind to stand by whatever decision you’ve made.
Once we get better at understanding our convictions, the decision to act will be the logical next step. As mentioned before, I’m great at dreaming. I can tell you about my book, my future non-profit, my future mentoring and coaching business, and my future café/coffee shop…I can even show you my Pinterest boards of what it’s going to all look like. But what good is dreaming if there is no action behind it?
Getting started is always the hardest part. Sometimes, that’s because you have no idea where to start and other times it might be because you know just how hard the journey is going to be, and you’re afraid to take that first step. Maybe it’s a lack of resources or support. Your hesitation to act is personal to you, but what we share is a need. A need to make the decision to act.
It can be daunting. No matter how big your goal or dream is, the first step can be tiny. It could be picking up the phone, sending a text message, formulating a list of questions you need answers to, etc. You can start small, because at the end of the day, you still started. Here’s where you need to be careful though. A small step today is great! But tomorrow is a new day. As Mike says, “The greatest enemy of tomorrow’s successes is today’s success.” Just because you experience a victory today doesn’t mean you can kick up your feet tomorrow and let that victory keep you afloat.
Risk will be involved. You must be willing to take risks if you expect to grow. Points of uncertainty are almost guaranteed, but you don’t have to have all the answers all the time. Maybe you’re scared to begin because you don’t know how you’ll be able to finish what you started. You can’t know the future, but you can surround yourself with accountability and support. You can measure yourself against yourself and continually look for ways to improve. What gets your attention will improve. So pay attention.
A quote I have always appreciated from Jim Elliot says, “Wherever you are, be all there.” You might not know how something is going to end, but you can put your all into it. You can choose to be all, or you can choose to be less. I don’t believe in lukewarm. Either you are in, or you are out. Either you are going to pursue your dreams, or you aren’t.
As an indecisive person, I know how difficult it is to dive in. “What if” questions like to populate my mind and I take turns dancing with all three- “fight, flight, and freeze.” That isn’t an excuse to not act though. If anything, it should be the motivation I need to stop dragging my feet and start acting. Mike left the Leadershifters with a thought on Thursday’s call- “Think about where your significant actions could take you.”
Your first significant action is making the decision to act.
So here’s to growth. Our growth.