Every day, there are a handful of moments that deliver an outsized impact. I refer to these little choices as decisive moments.
~ James Clear, “Atomic Habits”
Decisive moments are often small, but they can pack a mighty punch in the long run
What are decisive moments? They are all those seemingly minor, but potentially significant, decisions you make at the many tiny crossroads you come across throughout your typical day.
“The moment you decide between ordering takeout or cooking dinner. The moment you choose between driving your car or riding your bike. The moment you decide between starting your homework or grabbing the video game controller,” says “Atomic Habits” author, James Clear. “These choices are the fork in the road.”
Why do these small decisions matter so much? Because:
“Decisive moments set the options available to your future self.” ~ James Clear
The author gives this example to illustrate his point: “For instance, walking into a restaurant is a decisive moment because it determines what you’ll be eating for lunch. Technically, you are in control of what you order, but in a larger sense, you can only order an item if it is on the menu.”
“Your options are constrained by what’s available,” explains Clear. “They are shaped by our first choice.”
So, for me, one of the key challenges I am repeatedly facing in my typical workday is completing all the tasks on my list…that I know, based on experience, I can reasonably complete. After learning about the power of decisive moments, I realized that where I still seem to be struggling is with my first decisive moment of the day: the choice to finish my morning coffee/daydreaming session sooner – and get my butt into my home office and buckle down to work. Because once I am working, I’m an efficiency machine!
But if my workday starts too late, then I simply run out of time and don’t get my tasks completed. If this was just happening on occasion, then no big deal. But it’s not. It has become the norm…and the cumulative impact of not getting all my tasks completed is showing.
If I truly want to get all my allotted tasks done, then I cannot also have a slow, leisurely start to my day. In other words, starting my workday sooner is a decisive moment that sets the options available to my future self.
“We are limited by where our habits lead us,” explains Clear. “This is why mastering the decisive moments throughout your day is so important.”
All moments are not of equal importance.
“Each day is made up of many moments,” says the author. “But it is really a few habitual choices that determine the path you take. These little choices stack up, each one setting the trajectory for how you spend the next chunk of time.”
And how we spend these chunks of time is how we spend our days. And how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. So, if you are not seeing the results you wish to see in your life, perhaps take a moment to identify what might be a daily decisive moment for you. Because once you are aware of that, then you have the power to choose differently the next time that moment rolls around.
To learn more about the potent power of habits and how to develop ones that will get you where you want to go, I highly recommend “Atomic Habits; An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.”
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