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Alternate Perceptions Magazine, July 2024

Aligning Your Goals and Decisions

by: Stan Prachniak

Each day, we encounter decision points that will impact our path in life. These situations happen frequently and we often don’t consider the effect they might have when choosing what to do. Generally we make our decisions based on one of two things—purpose or pleasure. They are either based on the logic of being responsible/serving a purpose or they are pleasure-based/feel good decisions. And the impact of our decisions could be immediate, or it could come at a later time.

Making balanced decisions as you navigate life is a smart thing to do. It is a good idea to make a healthy mix of responsible and pleasure-based decisions. Being responsible in life should be a priority, but having some fun and experiencing pleasure in life is important, too. The more “responsible” decisions you make, the more likely you will be to discover your true path and encourage self-growth. The flip side to this is that continuously making pleasure-based decisions will lead you away from your true path and diminish your potential. For the purpose of further explaining this concept, let’s consider the idea of setting an alarm to wake up in the morning. The reason I chose this example is that people everywhere use alarm clocks, phones, smart devices, etc. to wake up in the mornings and there is a chain of events that can be related to the simple act of setting an alarm.

Let’s first explore the possible chain of events that could be attributed to making responsible decisions as they relate to morning alarms. Setting an alarm so that you are not late for work is a responsible thing to do. When your alarm goes off, the next responsible step is getting out of bed. If you continue on this path of staying focused and making responsible decisions throughout your morning routine, you will be less stressed and more likely make it to work on-time. Of course some things could happen that are out of your control that alter your morning, but you have chosen to be responsible with the things that you can control—your actions. In consistently doing so, you show your employer that you are a reliable employee. They can see that you are able to handle responsibility. When promotions are available, this can only benefit you.

Now, consider how your morning might look if you choose to make decisions based on pleasure. You start the prior evening by making the responsible decision of setting an alarm in order to wake up on-time the next morning. But, when your alarm goes off, responsible decision-making goes out the window. You are in a deep sleep, so you decide to hit the snooze button because it feels better to stay in bed than it does to get up. You choose to do this for pleasure—it feels good. Ten minutes later, your alarm goes off again and presents you with another decision point—get up or stay in bed? Let’s assume that you decide to get out of bed. You are now about ten minutes behind schedule—you are running late. You begin to feel stressed as you rush around trying to complete your morning routine in order to get out the door on-time. Unfortunately, you are still several minutes behind despite your best efforts to make up time. Once you are on the road, you discover that traffic is a bit heavier when you leave later and your morning commute will take about five minutes longer than usual. This means that you’ll be late for work. You may have experienced immediate pleasure by hitting the snooze button, but over time your relaxation and pleasure are replaced by rushing around and the stress of being late for one of life’s responsibilities. By showing up late to work, you convey the image of being unreliable.

It's important to understand what purpose and impact your decisions will have on your life. In order to do this, you should consider whether your decision aligns with your goals (short-term and/or long-term). If you have a short-term goal to make it to work on time, then you should ask yourself something like, “Will hitting the snooze button help me get to work on-time?” The answer is, “No.” So, deciding to hit the snooze button does not align with this short-term goal. This is a simplified example, but it explains the basics of aligning your actions with your goals.

Freedom To Change offers a way for you to learn to set goals for yourself and base your decisions on how well they align with those goals, who you want to become, and your true path in life. For more information on the Freedom To Change materials, visit www.freedom2change.org.

Sunday, July 14, 2024