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Decisiveness and resolutions

January 1, 2018

 

It's the beginning of a new year! It is the time a lot of us make resolutions. Of late, there is a lot of fun that is made about people who make new year resolutions, for we end up being unable to stick to them. Unfortunately, this has caused some of us to stop making new year resolutions altogether. Sigh!

 

In the last five years, I was able to succeed in achieving 70-80% of resolutions I made. I have been able to meet all my health goals, educational goals, reading goals and financial goals. I have forgotten my keys less often and have saved up enough money to buy the smallest car available in the Indian market. Each year, I have read fifty books. I have learnt elementary french. My skills with the guitar have improved, and I am now able to keep my home more tidy. I have failed a few times, but each time I failed, I got closer to becoming a tad better at winning.

 

I aimed to publish a book that makes math and science interesting to kids by the end of 2017. I haven't been able to do that. That is my one regret from 2017- the only significant goal I was unable to achieve.

 

I am not boasting, but I think I have figured to a certain degree on how I can stick to most of the decisions I make.


Decisiveness, by definition, is the art of taking a decision and sticking to it. It is by no means easy. Decisive people get things done. 

 

In the Bible, there is an entire book with 31 chapters dedicated to this subject. It's called the Proverbs. I don't aim to sound like a religious zealot, but without doubt, the book of Proverbs has helped me take better decisions in life. It also seems to add up to a lot of things I've learnt in my MSc. Psychology textbooks.

1. Indecisiveness is rooted in excuses for laziness

A lot of times, because we are inherently lazy, decision making takes a back seat. The castles of laziness are built with the bricks of excuses

The lazy person claims, "There may be a lion out in the streets! If I go outside, I might be killed!" (Proverbs 22:13)

There is no doubt that you may be killed by a lion when you walk into the streets, but the probability of that is minuscule. Lions are rare oddities. Using that excuse to not go and do what you must is ridiculous. 

Sit for a while today, and get rid of at least one stupid excuse you often make. Get rid of your non-existent lions. When you get rid of all unnecessary, preposterous and ridiculous excuses, you remove the bricks that make your lazy castle. When you get rid of laziness, your mind becomes more capable of taking better decisions, and becomes ready to act on them.


2. Indecisiveness is aided by overthinking

 

 

You may realize that there may be a risk attached to your decisions. But everything in the world has some risk attached to it. More people are willing to invest in mutual funds (which are subject to market risk) than take decisions and stick to them!

 

My father is a professor of economics, and as a child at dinner table conversations, I've heard him often say, "Profit is the return you get from taking risk. To not take risk at all is loss".

 

"Take calculated risks. The greatest risk is not taking risk at all.", my father always said.

There's two kinds of foolish people. Those who think too less before making a decision, and those who think too much. Sometimes, overthinking ends up sucking so much time out of our lives that we end up not taking the decisions we ought to. Consider this Bible verse:

The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
(Proverbs 17:24 ESV)


The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. You cannot predict all the obstacles that you will encounter on the journey to achieving your goal. So today, take a decision and stop over thinking about it's consequences. Take an hour to think all you want. But at the end of the hour, make a decision and decide to stick to it.  And then, stop thinking about consequences. 

 

We need to make the right decisions. All decisions are right decisions as long as we are committed to making our decisions right. 


3. Indecisiveness is strengthened by bad counsel

 

Having a few wise friends is far better than having many foolish ones. Studies show that we are greatly influenced by the five closest friends we have. Hence, it makes a lot of sense to have a bunch of decisive friends to aid you, counsel you, and give you great advice in your pursuit.

 

Consider these three verses on effective counsel, again from the book of Proverbs. (Sorry if you think I sound like a pastor! Haha)

 

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:15 ESV)

Where there is no guidance, a person falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.(Proverbs 11:14 ESV)

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.(Proverbs 18:24 ESV)

 

I theorize that there are 4 kinds of friends: Angels, Teddy-bears, Monkeys and Demons. The characters of the teddy bears, monkeys and demons may tend to overlap. But the angels always are easy to identify, because of their stark rarity and conduct.

Look for friends who fall in the first quadrant. If you're okay with it, try being accountable to them. I am blessed because I have a small set of significant friends, and the friends I picked and pursued are both wise and kind.

 

I have learnt a very important lesson over the last 10 years: It is better to be a fool among many wise men, than to be a wise man among many fools. Surround yourself with people who are more intelligent than you, who have more experience than you do. If these people are also kind, in time, they will be the 'angels' you can rely on.  


4. Indecisiveness thrives on pride

Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
(Proverbs 18:12 ESV)


About 20 years back, there was a company by name Konica Minolta. It still exists. Back then however, Konica was making the world's best cameras. My mother had one too. You needed to put a photo reel into it.

 

But then, by the year 2000, the world started slowly moving towards digital photography. However, Konica was convinced that it's position as the world's #1 camera would force customers to stick to reel based photography. So, they delayed investing in digital technology. 

Just because Konica was too haughty that their world #1 position was unshakable, It caused them to be indecisive about moving to digital photography for too long. And by the time they made the decision, it was too late. In 2006, they stopped manufacturing cameras.

 

Guess what Konica manufactures today: photocopy and printing machines. And they don't even have a significant market share.

To be decisive requires us to be humble, and to be open to change. All personal transformation begins with a leap of faith made in humility, discernment and a willingness to change.

It's is tough to be decisive! It is like running a marathon. The training is hard, sometimes even painful. But you know that with each sprain in your muscles, you are becoming stronger and more agile.

You just need to be dedicated to be industrious, know the difference between thinking and over thinking, be humble, and find the right bunch of friends- who would stick with you ! 

 

Have a great year ahead, dear reader! Make a few good new year resolutions. Shut your ears to the background noise of trolls. May you succeed in meeting your new year resolutions! :)

 

P.S. Click here to read this poem by Rudyard Kipling for some inspiration. 

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