Ep. 108- A Recipe for Results: Goals + Actions = Decisions

In the go-go of our busy days, we juggle all types of decisions. 

In fact, research shows that we’re typically making thousands of conscious decisions each day – from small ones like what time should I eat to larger ones like what should I tackle first today. These decisions activate how our day plays out, including how we react when we get new input, priorities, and options that pop up. 

But how many times are these decisions more of a whispered wish than intentional action?

The Bottom Line on Top of this episode is that decisions are not actually made until action is taken. Like written words on a sandy beach, the idea is there in the moment, but the tide of time can quickly wash it away. 

How many times do your have-to’s and want-to’s end up moving from one list to the next – or being replaced by the urgent, unexpected, or subconsciously just avoided?

All of this is very common, and human. Even the most solid plan can steer off course because, well, that’s life. It’s the trend line we need to monitor to make sure we’re not sinking into the depths of decision debt.

I call it debt because our brain is our banker. It loves to remind us of what we have over-promised, over-drafted, and over-thought. And the interest rates it returns are usually in the form of worry, guilt, and anxiety. 

Ever tried to fall asleep and all of sudden been confronted with a lengthy, itemized receipt of things not done all courtesy of your friendly mental landlord?

Just like a credit card, we can rack up debt and borrow against our future productivity and even our personal potential by allowing too many decisions to pile up and then we find that we don’t have the time, funds, or energy to reconcile all of that. 

But what if our decision debt came due quickly? If the terms and conditions of a decision were that action had to be taken within 24 hours, would we be more judicious with our consumption? Would it change what you promise to yourself and to others?

And sometimes we confuse talk with action: we’re out there saying I’m going to eat healthier; I’m going to get more sleep; now is a time I’m going to pursue my passion. 

It’s not the idea that holds us back from taking steps; in fact, it’s the idea that usually fuels keeping our ideas on that wish list. Instead, we tend to stumble on the way to the first couple of steps in the direction of our goal. And to be clear, just because steps are simple, doesn’t mean they are easy. 

Either way, if you’re truly serious about a decision then you can find a way to put something into action within 24 hours. This timeframe is an important threshold to see if you’re willing to do, instead of just wish. 

Doing any step, no matter how small, becomes the first payment made to that decision debt. Episode 33 talks about the power of Ridiculously Small Steps or RSS for short. This is an intentional approach to unpacking the decision into micro actions. 

These super small steps become a pathway to progress. By doing them, your brain starts to pay attention to how you’re investing in your decision. 

The best part of Ridiculously Small Steps is that they are customized by you, for you. The more micro, the better. Focus on the next action instead of the entire decision map.

Find an RSS that almost sounds too easy. That’s what the “Ridiculous” part of RSS stands for, meaning that it will likely take more mental energy to avoid it or talk yourself out of it than to simply do that step. 

Stand up and stretch, fill a glass of water, set an alarm on your phone – the idea here is to take away all the arguments for inaction. 

Once an effort is extended, even for a matter of seconds, momentum is set in motion. One small step, then another alerts the reward center of the brain. In turn, our neurotransmitters respond with a dash of dopamine. The brain then starts to categorize ‘action taken’ with receiving a reward – creating positive returns on your decision investment. 

Start small, but start quickly. If you find yourself waiting for the right time, the right place, the right energy, then you’re allowing dust to collect on your future. 

I’ll end with a quote I love from the modern poet Iain Thomas which says this:

And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”

I love those words from him. They’re such a great reminder that the “something” that is important is what’s within you. So, invest well and invest often. 

Your brain is hungry. Give it some intellectual snacks in the
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I'm Kristin

I left my corporate work and dove further into how to navigate this noisy, digital, exhausted world. The result is a methodology centered on communications, productivity, and culture that blends theory with practice and helps people better enjoy the life they worked so hard to get.