This morning I stumbled across a Steve Jobs quote.
“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”
We encounter the opportunity to make a decision many times every day. According to some popular internet research, without substantial scientific evidence, the number of decisions a person makes in a day is staggering...35,000.
Quite frankly even trying to wrap my brain around that number is exhausting. Decisions are not often easy for me. I tend to overanalyze.
However, I spent some time thinking about this quote. For some, and for some situations, it is easy to decide what to do. A decision can also be how to react. A snap response to a triggering situation can be frustration or hurt, which can cause us to react with anger. Sometimes the target of our anger is not even the source of our frustration or hurt. Believe me, we all carry stuff around and a reaction can sneak out at very inopportune moments. Something happened at work, we deal with it at work, but the negative feelings come home, and might be expressed by lashing out at our partner or our children, or even our parents.
So how do we decide not to react this way. It requires making a decision. We can decide to act from a position of kindness and try to be thoughtful, we can strive to live our whole lives that way. Still, when something happens to set us off the carefully charted course, it is hard to remember sometimes to be kind first.
Perhaps it is sometimes easier to decide what not to do. It is certainly easier to catch yourself if you go against a decision like this. I will not react until I take a deep breath. I will not respond until I have a smile on my face. I will not dwell on what happened and let it ruin my evening, week, month, etc.
Here’s another one...I will not waste time. This is one I struggled with for a long time. There are just infinite ways to waste time! For example, I would turn on the news, and just get sucked in and keep watching. I would not be able to sleep. I wasn’t reading anything. I was isolating myself. Once I decided not to turn the TV on after dinner, I started reading more, sleeping better, and being more creative.
We can decide NOT to do things. My decision not to turn on the news was much easier than deciding I will read more, or I will go to sleep earlier. Rather than beating myself up for not reading as much as I wanted to, or going to sleep late and then being tired, and sometimes irritable the next day, it was a much kinder way to change my behavior. In this case, not doing something lead to doing a lot of things that I had wanted to do.
A decision not do do something can change our productivity, our attitude, and even more. My own experience has shown me that a decision not to do something has lead to the ability to make many more decisions that I want to make. It has been a motivator.
Decisions can lead us down a path, for good or for not so good. Most decisions we can change if things don’t go the way we planned. Decisions work best when we can remind ourselves easily what the decision is that we made. So, what will you decide not to do?