Drift, Drown, or DecideBy Dan Vis
April 23, 2017
Part of what makes life so interesting is the amazing amount of options before us. We can go a thousand different directions, work on a thousand different projects, spend time in a thousand different ways. And tomorrow there will be more choices still!
Going back a generation or two, choices were fewer, options more limited, and as a result, life was simpler in many ways. Today, the broad range of decisions we are forced to make can be staggering. And they are more complicated and difficult than ever before. Worse, the rate at which these choices come to us seems to be accelerating!
To deal with this exploding range of options, people often default to one or more of the following basic approaches:
Habit: Act based on regular routines and do what you've always done.
Compliance: Do what others expect of you or tell you do.
Escapism: Spend time in activities you enjoy to avoid tough situations.
Impulse: Act on the spur of the moment and do what you feel like.
Assimiliate: Blend in and do whatever other people normally do.
Procrastinate: Put off making choices as long as possible.
You can probably think of other approaches as well, but they all have one thing in common: they avoid personal decision-making. Rather than taking active responsibility for life's choices, they involve defaulting to some other more passive process.
We all do it. It's part of how we cope with the massive range of options we experience today. Unfortunately, every time we abdicate the decision-making process, we abdicate control of at least some aspect of your life.
Take a moment to reflect on your future. What do you really want from life? Do you have dreams? Important life goals? A desire or longing to do something specific? Has God put something special on your heart?
How are you going to get there? It is not going to be by saying wistfully, "If only I had time to..."
“To do anything important requires countless small choices, all in the same direction.”
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Actually, accomplishing something important is not usually a question of available time at all. Or of ability. Or resources. Or talent. Rather, it is primarily a matter of making countless small choices all aligned in the same direction. Or to put it differently, it is about taking charge of our decisions. Taking responsibility for our choices. To fulfil our purpose, we must retake control.
Control starts with planning. Planning brings the future into the present by connecting goals in the future with decisions you are facing in the present. Rather than indulging in what is easiest or simplest, we use planning to choose options that move us toward our goals and objectives.
Planning requires the ability to break large goals into smaller projects, and those small projects into even smaller individual tasks. It's being able to identify the right actions, and their right order. It involves projecting a clear path from where we are to where we want to be.
Planning requires us to prioritize options. Knowing what is most important, becomes the filter through which we evaluate our choices. Those decisions which align with our purpose are squeezed into our schedule. Those which do not, are trimmed out and excluded.
Most people plan rather haphazardly. They may plan a special event or program, but then go weeks or months without any significant life planning. As a result, our events and programs go off without a hitch, but the direction of our life is left to happenstance. The kind of ongoing, detailed planning necessary to assert control over our time and shift the direction of our life is rare. But there is no other way to fulfil God's highest purpose for our life.
As one old time management guru put it, we ultimately have just three ways to deal with the choices of life: we can drift, drown, or decide!
CommentsWhat about you? What is your default approach to the complexity of life's choices? What approaches to planning most help bring direction to your life? How do you bring God and eternal realities into your planning? Share a thought or two below.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 04/28/17|
|Cool. Thanks for always checking out the mobile skin. More than 50% of our users are mobile, and I rarely even look there... :)|
|Posted by Qing Ling on 04/26/17|
|🐣🐤*chirp* I don't have a tweet account. I'll just do it the good ol fashioned word of mouth way haha.
But yes I see those buttons have appeared!!! :) wow it really emphasises those key phases on mobile skin 👍🌟
|Posted by Dan Vis on 04/26/17|
|I just added a click to tweet feature to our site, Qing, and added a couple to this post--including one with part of the line you liked. Happy tweeting!|
|Posted by Qing Ling on 04/26/17|
|It seems many of us are facing similar challenges, Dan...
I'm looking forward to the Life Focus System too!
|Posted by Rhonda D. Coleman on 04/25/17|
|I'm a procrastinator and I've struggled with this for years. I pray to God to help me "redeem" the time and guide me so that I can accomplish more in a day, especially, things that matter most.|
|Posted by Dorothy Vance on 04/25/17|
|Is there a way to make the comment box narrower so I can see my whole comment at once rather than only part of it? It seems like it would make it easier to check for errors before posting.|
|Posted by Wendelina P Deligero on 04/24/17|
|Amen ! I do escape often to my own world. Those were wasted times. God is so good to remind us we're drifting and picks us up , this time through you Dan Vis.
God be praised!!!
|Posted by Suzi Woods on 04/24/17|
|This is my area for greatest improvement! Looking forward to our upcoming class!|
|Posted by Pamela Kendall on 04/24/17|
|I have struggled with decision making for a long time. I have often used procrastination and escapism to avoid decision making or to avoid unpleasant or difficult tasks - (and after procrastinating or escaping I often feel disgusted that I have wasted lots of time and not really accomplished anything!) Habit and compliance have also played into my decision making.
Part of the problem is lack of a clear goal for what I should be doing with my time. Too many options can be overwhelming - and lack of a clear goal makes it more difficult to weed out the less than optimal choices. It is easier for me to make no specific decision and just float along - but I know that is not God's best plan for me.
I am very much looking forward to the Time Management class. I know God can help me learn to make decisions and manage my time more productively and in a more God-honoring way. Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 04/24/17|
|Should have added that to the list as well! Planning can indeed be one way to avoid action. Good observation Ann. I wrote an article on that entitled The-priority-of-action. It was actually one of my first posts.
As for interruptions and distractions, I'm reminded of a quote from our education course which says true education creates men who are "masters and not slaves of circumstances". Not an easy balance between this and remaining flexible. But I believe it's one we should strive for.
|Posted by Marsha on 04/24/17|
|Stella Tigere, I couldn't agree more! I'm going to add this scripture as my motto for the time management class :-)|
|Posted by Colette Guthrie on 04/24/17|
|Lillian I am like you were, a mixture of habit and compliance. Of late am even seeing some escapism. As a child I learned procrastination is the thief of time.
I am looking forward to the upcoming course.
|Posted by Lillian E. Cepeda on 04/24/17|
|I have been a mixture of habit and compliance.
Now that am retired am a procrastinator.
I am learning to follow Jesús' counsel in Matthew 6:34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof..
I am taking one day at a time. It's the only way I can function better in the situation am living right now
|Posted by Stella Tigere on 04/24/17|
|Proverbs 16:9A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. I am learning to live with this text. Praying seeking wisdom and tender my plans to God. I thank FAST because of lately I have learnt to utilise every bit of opportunity especially on scripture memory. Not waiting to plan and have a designated time for this but memories while your work.
|Posted by Jill Macgillivray on 04/24/17|
|We can plan, but as Jesus did we can lay our plans at His feet, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate.|
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