Making a decision once

Over the last ten years writing this blog, one of the questions I’ve been asked most frequently is, “How do you find the time to write something every day?” Almost every weekday, I find the time to write. Before a weekend, a holiday, or a vacation, I write my posts and queue them up ahead of time. My wedding day, the day each of my two kids were born, the days during my move from California to Washington, and every day in between, a blog post has gone up here (the answer to the other most frequently asked question, “Have you ever missed even one day?” is no).

I’m a fairly disciplined person, but I’ve never been as disciplined about doing anything else every day as I have with this project. And in retrospect, I stumbled into one part of decision-making that can be applied to other areas of our lives.

Lesson #21 of my final 31 posts: Some decisions are best made once.

When I started this streak on October 12, 2009, I decided that I was going to post every day, without fail. Had I decided “I’ll blog more often,” or “I’ll blog three times a week,” every day would have required that I revisit the decision of whether or not to post. And that would have made it easy to consistently decide that it just wasn’t a good day or that I didn’t have anything interesting to say. But once I decided to post every day, that decision had already been made. I didn’t have to wrestle with it. And that freed me to move to the next daily decision of, “What should I blog about today?”

Making good decisions is a skill, one that we can learn, practice, and improve. And while some decisions shouldn’t or simply can’t be made just once, those that can be often should be.

How can you turn that to your advantage to help you reach your goals, personally, academically, or professionally?

Students, what would happen if you decided once that you will study with your phone turned off? Or that you will work on your college applications for three hours every Saturday until they are all submitted? Or that you will raise your hand and contribute to the discussion at least once every day in your AP English class?

Parents, what would happen if you decided once that you will give more attention to your student’s strengths than you do their weaknesses? Or that you will not participate in comparative discussions with other parents about your children’s college application process? Or that while you will encourage your student to seek feedback from their counselor or English teacher, you simply will not make suggestions about the topic or approach of their college essays?

Even a one-and-done decision isn’t akin to keeping that decision forever (more on that tomorrow). But if a goal that’s important to you requires a potentially recurring decision to be made, you can spend less time deciding and more time working towards the goal if you make the decision once.