Decisions, decisions – the building blocks of our lives. It seems obvious to say that good decisions help to create a better tomorrow, yet many people don’t appear to connect their lack of personal development to their poor decision making. Some people make choices, then experience negative consequences, yet wonder why they can’t seem to get ahead in life. They never figure it out. Others know their choices may not be good for them, but they make them anyway.
Nobody says that good decisions are always simple, but they are necessary for success. Theodore Hesburgh, former president of Notre Dame University, admonished:
You don’t make decisions because they’re EASY;
You don’t make decisions because they’re CHEAP;
You don’t make decisions because they’re POPULAR;
You make decisions because they’re RIGHT.
If we’re to make decisions that bear the best fruit, though, we need to close the gaps in our lives between awareness, intention, and action.
Practicing Personal Development Through Daily Discipline
Cartoonist Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, quipped, “Life is easier if you dread only one day at a time.” But the truth is that you don’t have to dread your days if you make your decisions in advance. Set the expectation of daily personal growth and see it through by following these simple steps.
1. DECIDE WHICH CRITICAL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE REQUIRE PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT.
Start by drawing yourself a roadmap: which important areas of your life are you looking to grow in? Do you want to become physically stronger or more fit? Financially healthy? Spiritually or relationally mature? Do you want to have a better attitude, more productive thoughts, or more effective growth? Decide which areas of your life you’d like to develop and start there.
2. REVIEW YOUR DECISIONS AND ASK YOURSELF, “WHICH GOOD PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT DECISIONS HAVE I ALREADY MADE?”
Certainly, you have already made decisions in many of your life’s most critical areas. Some you’ve made without really knowing it. Others you may have thought through very carefully. Continue the process by recognizing and acknowledging the positive steps you’ve already taken. Write them down, including how you make the decision, which area of your life it applies to, and what results it gets you.
3. IDENTIFY THE IMPORTANT DECISIONS YOU STILL MUST MAKE.
Whereas some important decisions you’ve already made a part of your routine, some you might not have given thought to at all. As you look at the critical categories you’ve outlined for yourself, consider what decisions will contribute to your growth in those areas. Don’t get discouraged, but do acknowledge your need to change. You can’t improve in an area if it’s not on your radar – but now that it is, the opportunity to grow is ready to be taken.
4. CHOOSE ONE OF THOSE PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT DECISIONS AND DETERMINE TO MAKE IT THIS WEEK.
When it comes to change, there are really only three kinds of people:
- Those who don’t know what to do
- Those who know what to do but don’t do it
- Those who know what to do and follow through
This process is designed to help you be the third kind of person.
Once you have a list of critical decisions, conquer them one at a time. Seeing the whole list, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Don’t be tempted to go in too many directions at once. Just focus on one area at a time to make the greatest progress. And remember, when it comes to the big decisions in life, once you make them, you won’t have to keep dealing with them in that way again.
5. LEARN THE DISCIPLINES THAT GO WITH EACH DECISION.
Most people can make good decisions once they know what the issues are, but character and perseverance determine what happens after the decision is made. Remember that while decisions can be made quickly, adopting disciplines in your life takes more time. But the “secret of success” lies in the daily managing of those decisions.
Becoming disciplined in one way may not be difficult for you; on the other hand, it may be. But the more daily disciplines you adopt, the better you get at it. A victory of discipline in one area of life can carry over and help you win in other areas.
6. REPEAT THE PROCESS UNTIL YOU’VE MASTERED EACH PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT CATEGORY.
Getting intention past the threshold of action is a hurdle any change effort will have to overcome. But once you’ve done it with one area, all that’s left to complete the change you want to see in yourself is to do it again. Once you’ve settled a critical decision and have a handle on its disciplines, then move on to the next. Keep focused on just one at a time, and over time, you’ll reap the compounding benefits of consistent improvement.
The right next action is…?
It takes action (the right action) to reap the compounding benefits of consistent improvement. For you, that action could be joining the Maxwell Leadership Certified Team. To date, more than 50,000 people have found that was the right move for them. Your next step is to speak with a program advisor about whether becoming a Certified Team Member is the right move for your career. (Pssss…. there is a sweet bonus— worth $1,500—when you join before November 30th!)
This blog post has been adapted from Dr. John Maxwell’s personal productivity resource, Today Matters. John Maxwell has been one of the world’s foremost leadership and personal growth experts for more than 40 years, and this guidebook for success planning contains invaluable insights. You can pick up a copy here.