Good Decisions  vs  Not-Bad  Decisions

If you're reading this, it's likely that you have an interest in self-improvement. You may be mindful of good decisions that you make because you want to be a better person. Of course if this is not the case with you – if you are interested in improving your life, but haven't taken much action, that's fine. This article will help you as well.   But like all things that you do, if you take actions to make yourself better, you only do it in ways that you know how. There is no way to do it any other way, unless by accident.   But I mean to make you aware of two types of good decisions. I suggest that you become more aware of which category your efforts fall in to.   If you do both – great job, keep it up, but please be mindful that you are focusing in both areas, and ensure that you spread your efforts evenly. If you are like me, and your default is to focus on only one of these types, be aware that you are neglecting half of your development. And these halves do not double your results, they multiply your results.

I will first present a very simple metaphor:

Think of a very tall hill. Extremely tall. You cannot see the top from any point on the hill. At the very top of this hill (as you imagine) is the pinnacle of personal perfection – everything that you want yourself to be. At the bottom of this hill is the sludge and failure in all of us that we try to avoid. If you live at the bottom of this hill, you allow your apathy and procrastination to determine everything in your life. The bottom of this hill is laziness and fear in bulk.   Now the atmosphere on this hill is shifty. The winds and soils can shift your position as you ascend or descend (as life often can).

There are several ways to change your position on this hill. 1. You can purposefully (or absent-mindedly) descend the hill. You can walk, run, or tumble down the hill towards your negative lifestyles. 2. You can purposefully (and rarely without intent) ascend the hill. The hill can often be steep, and the terrain can often fight you as you progress upwards in this way. 3. Of course the easiest thing to do is just to stand perfectly still. You may be happy with your place on the hill. You may think that you are in a great place (maybe even near the top!), and all of your self-help intentions are paying off because of your position, so you should just stay put as you don't want to risk worse terrain.

You can call these Good Decisions vs Not-Bad Decisions or Passive vs Active decisions.

Now let's leave this metaphor and examine these concepts in real life examples.

  • Bad decisions are intentional acts that bring us towards the bottom. It doesn't matter how successful we are in our endeavors. There will always be times when we decide to cheat on our diet, put off a project, or neglect our goals. In some cases, these decisions can be healthy. It's when we make these decisions due to laziness or procrastination that it is an actively bad decision.

  • Good (or Actively good) decisions are made when you want to put forth energy into a positive change. We all know these decisions as they are the hard ones to follow through with. Going to the gym, doing independent research, or doing 'extra work' in any way are all examples of these types of action.

  • Passive (or Not-Bad) decisions are the ones that I want to highlight in this article, as they can be damaging to your cause. These include things that prevent us from going “down the hill”, but make no headway towards our goals. They can be difficult to make. And in some cases, you can feel pride as a result. But If you focus your productive energies on these types of improvement, you may be rewarded with a false sense of progress due to your passively-good decisions. You will make no headway towards your goals. And even worse, your place “on the hill” will only be altered by environmental factors (which as we all know, usually only take us down).

    • Just to provide a personal example of the difference:   8 years ago, I was a heavy smoker. Quitting several years ago was not easy. It was a very difficult decision and follow-through. I'm grateful I had the strength to do it. Occasionally, I am tempted to have a cigarette, but I have always used better judgment.   Quitting was active. Every time I decide not to smoke, it is a passive decision. Both are good. But only one of these decisions makes me better.

It is important to distinguish the difference in your life. For someone who may be overweight and has a job that they hate – they might feel that they have worked very hard to get that promotion that they were passed over on. They might feel that they are permanently on a diet. And they have no results to show for either.   I would encourage this person to weigh their passive and active efforts. And if they find the truth, they will find that most of their efforts are passive, and they need more action to improve.

Do you feel that you at the bottom of your hill? We all find ourselves in this place at some point(s) in our lives. Sometimes, reaching our lowest point is what makes us aware of our position. In knowing how to get out of your personal rut, you will discover your ability to reach your goals. It's just a matter of persistence and smart action to achieve this. Be intentional with your actions and aware of any passive efforts, and you will beat the terrain. 

D