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CRUNCH TIME!8 Steps to Making the Right Life Decisions at the Right Times
By KEN LINDNER
River Grove BooksCopyright © 2013 Ken Lindner
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDECISIONS AND DECISION-MAKING: AN OVERVIEW
The keys to attaining your goals, fulfilling your dreams, and achieving inner happiness are:
Making Constructive and Enhancing Decisions and Acting Consistently with Them for as Long as They Remain Beneficial
Every day, we're faced with all sorts of issues, choices, and decisions that affect our lives to varying degrees. Some decisions will change our lives forever. In some cases, just a few critical decisions can make a world of difference in a person's life. Other decisions may be less profound, but they still have an impact on whether we eventually achieve our large and small goals. The act of making constructive decisions and doing positive things for ourselves makes us feel good about ourselves. This good feeling, in turn, propels and catalyzes us to do more and more enhancing things for ourselves. Conversely, destructive and self-sabotaging decision-making and behavior diminish the quality of our lives and—in our Heart-of-Hearts—make us feel bad about ourselves. Therefore, it behooves you to strive to rid yourself of unhealthy decision-making Strategies and to develop, modify, and keep the enhancing ones in order to become the wisest decisionmaker you can be and thereby fulfill your positive potential.
You are the result of your decisions! The state of your life and your inner happiness, in large part, are reflections of your decisions. Your decisions are your very precious opportunities—each and every one of them—to either raise the quality of your life and the lives of those around you, or to lower it. They are your wonderful chances—your everyday gifts, all there for the taking—to seize your Gold Ring dreams. (Forget the brass stuff!)
There is no question in my mind that what separates those individuals who achieve their goals and realize their most cherished dreams from those who don't is the process by which the achievers reach their decisions.
During my nearly thirty years as a Career Choreographer™, I've worked with scores of individuals who have learned to think through and deal with things constructively. Not surprisingly, a great majority of them have achieved the highest pinnacles of success. Interestingly, a number of these successful people have achieved even more than their natural talent might have initially indicated. (I am one of them.) Their constructive mind-sets and Strategies enabled and empowered them to become super- or overachievers. For instance, I would argue that tennis great Chris Evert didn't possess some of the physical strength or natural athletic gifts that some of her competitors enjoyed. She didn't have anything resembling a powerful serve, and she rarely came to the net to volley, yet she dominated women's tennis for years. Why? Because she was so mentally and emotionally strong and constructive. On the other hand, I know far too many people who have undermined themselves through their destructive decision-making and thought processes. As a result, time after time, they experience crushing defeats, because without constructive and effective decision-making skills and Strategies, even the most brilliant talent can be wasted. Not only do these often supremely gifted individuals never come close to fulfilling their potential, and therefore fail to taste the sweet, high-self-esteem fruits of well-made decisions, but in many instances, they also destroy significant portions of their own lives and the lives of those around them.
Let's take a moment to compare the following words:
Self-enhancing vs. Self-destructive
Fulfilled vs. Empty/Lost
Confident vs. Hopeless
Positive vs. Negative/Toxic
Proactive vs. Reactive
Successful vs. Failed
How do you want to describe yourself? I'm sure that if you're reading this book, you'd probably choose the left-hand column. Yet as sure as death follows life, we all engage in some amount of diminishing, destructive, and toxic decision-making.
No one in this world is perfect. The key is to become the very best decision-maker you can. My mom once shared the following thought with me: "I'd rather strive for perfection and fall short, than strive for mediocrity and attain it." Smart person, my mom!
Let's strive to be the best we can be. Constructive decision-making can be simple. You just need the desire to learn, to grow, and to lift the quality of your life.
WHY DO WE MAKE SUCH BAD DECISIONS?!
Ever since I became a career counselor, I've been stunned by how often bright and talented individuals make self-destructive and self-sabotaging decisions. It's absolutely amazing, and a profoundly sad reality.
I see examples of poisonous decision-making throughout my day.
Witness the fact that so many people: stay in relationships that are diminishing and emotionally and/or psychologically toxic; smoke cigarettes, even though there is clear evidence that smoking is deadly to both them and to others in the vicinity; take recreational drugs, such as heroin, crack, cocaine, and the like, when they know that they are risking their health; overeat to an unhealthy extent or to the point of obesity; consume alcohol in dangerous amounts and/or drink and drive; have unprotected sex in this era of AIDS; and, most of all, engage in activities that they, in their Heart-of-Hearts, know are destructive and dangerous to their own emotional, psychological, and physical well-being and to that of valued others.
Destructive decision-making and self-sabotage are all around us. For example, is there a more blatant illustration of self-destructive behavior than what Kobe Bryant allegedly engaged in, in Eagle, Colorado a number of years ago? Kobe seemed to have everything going for him. He was a world-renowned professional basketball player; he earned millions of dollars a year in salary and many more times that in product endorsements; he had a beautiful young wife and a new child; and he was one of the most respected and beloved athletes of our time. For some reason, however, he made a decision that put all this at risk for what appears to have been an hour or so of physical pleasure. Essentially, the same can be said for such public figures as Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer, ex-CIA director David Petraeus, and John Edwards.
To the general observer, Kobe was "crazy" to have had sex with the woman, regardless of consent. But I must tell you, Kobe Bryant is no different from any of us. At times, we all make flawed and self-destructive decisions—especially when our emotions, urges, and impulses come into play. The difference between Kobe and almost everyone else is that Kobe's destructive decision-making was front and center in the public spotlight, and his humiliation, potential losses, and fall from grace were far more dramatic than most.
What is especially interesting about Kobe is that in some areas of his life, such as his basketball endeavors, he learned through focused practice and well thought-out preparation to make excellent reflexive decisions. He knows when and how to dribble the ball past defenders and drive to the basket for a dunk or a layup, when to stop and shoot a jump shot, etc. Through focused practice and preparation, he attained almost thorough mastery and control of his mental, emotional, and physical skills on the basketball court. However, when certain personal emotions, emotional weaknesses, urges, and/or temptations that he had not taken the requisite time to deal with constructively were involved or triggered, Kobe, like all of us at one time or another, seemingly reacted thoughtlessly and reflexively by making a devastatingly destructive and self-sabotaging decision. Part of the problem is that when we're faced with important decisions, we often have little or no time to think things through objectively in order to reach the most constructive short- and long-term decisions.
It has been my experience that the primary key to self-enhancing decision-making is to be mentally, emotionally, and psychologically prepared when decisions are required. This is especially true when we're flooded with emotions, urges, needs, or cravings. Very often, we make bad decisions because we do not prepare ourselves, in advance, to deal with the possible, or probable, opportunities, issues, temptations, distractions, poisons, etc. that are likely to come our way.
Crunch Time! provides you with the thought processes, the skills, and the Crunch Time! Steps and Strategies that will prepare and empower you to make great personal and professional decisions. Equipped with this material, you can change and lift the quality of your life in the most wonderful and self-enhancing way by making decisions that will enable you to fulfill your most positive potential, achieve your dreams, and feel good—and often great—about yourself. These positive feelings, in turn, will motivate and fuel you to make more and more self-enhancing decisions. Why? Because you'll feel that you're worth it. And you most certainly are!
Just start by making some self-enhancing decisions, and see how good you feel about yourself and your ability and power to constructively change and improve the quality of your life.
BEFORE WE BEGIN
At the beginning of our journey together, it's important to recognize and remember that should some of the ensuing material seem familiar or repetitious, don't be concerned. Many of us, at some time in our lives, have been to places where for some reason, we've not seen all there was to see or learned all there was to learn. Then again, sometimes seeing familiar things, situations, or individuals from another vantage point, in another context, or at a later time can often be quite illuminating. Actually, it might not be until perhaps the second or third time around that we are truly ready and able to more fully appreciate someone or something for their previously overlooked real qualities and virtues. Therefore, throughout our trip together, we will utilize some familiar material as a reminder—in essence, a refresher course—to help you get on, or back on, the right decision-making track.
Throughout my career, I have been exposed to many formulas for personal change and growth that rely upon the Band-Aid approach of simply changing our attitudes and our façades. In Today's world of quick fixes and superficial solutions, these theories can appear very attractive. And they may work—when things are going well. But when crises hit, deep conflicts occur, and tough choices need to be made, these matchstick foundations often fall apart, our positive façades fade or crumble, and we tend to revert back to our old, reflexive, ineffective decision-making processes and Strategies for dealing with problems. All of our resolve and resolutions go—as Paul Simon sang—"slip sliding away." The reason is: Formulas that change only façades basically focus upon changing the symptoms of our problems; they don't deal with and eradicate or alleviate the problems' root causes. We can't cure cancer with a spray of Bactine and a nice bandage. Deeper exploration and more intricate procedures and remedies are required.
Additionally, there are many self-help theories that deal exclusively and/or primarily with cerebral/cognitive solutions to behavioral problems. Therefore, they don't sufficiently deal with the all-important emotional aspects of the decision-making equation. As a result, these theories often fall short, because, as we all know, our emotions often cloud or dismantle our best judgment. Crunch Time! focuses on both the cognitive and the emotional components of decision-making and behavior. The material presented herein acknowledges the awesome influence that our emotions can have on our decision-making. However, through various anticipatory, preparatory, and destructive-emotion nullifying steps, the powerful force of negative emotions that often leads us to reach self-destructive decisions can be counteracted or vitiated. My book, Your Killer Emotions: The 7 Steps to Mastering the Toxic Emotions, Urges, and Impulses That Sabotage You is devoted to explaining in depth how you can accomplish this.
If we are to lead healthier, more constructively productive lives, and make them great; if we are to come close to fulfilling our true potential; and if we are to achieve our most cherished and precious goals, we must go to the heart of our problems, and understand them and deal with them. We must reevaluate and rebuild our decision-making foundations and processes, and solidly reinforce them with the "internal goods" that will lead us to attain our goals and fulfill our dreams, and allow us to continue to enjoy them over time.
The means by which we can take constructive ownership of our lives lies in how we reach our decisions.
Daniel Goleman, in his popular book Emotional Intelligence, writes that individuals with a high intelligence quotient (IQ) aren't always the most successful navigators of real-life situations because some of them seemingly lack the emotional intelligence of other more emotionally developed and streetwise individuals. Crunch Time! takes Mr. Goleman's book a step or two further, explaining and illustrating how you can become more emotionally intelligent (and, as a result, more self-fulfilled) by learning to make wiser, more constructive, and more self-enhancing decisions. In essence, the material in this book will equip you with the decision-making skills and Strategies that will help you to fulfill your great potential. The explanation is simple: If you can make constructive and self-enhancing decisions time after time, you put yourself in the best position to achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams.
Crunch Time! is divided into three parts. The first identifies and discusses decision-making terms and concepts. These are the essential mental, psychological, and emotional building blocks that form the foundation for making constructive and self-enhancing decisions.
Parts two and three comprise an in-depth study of The 8 Crunch Time! Steps for making constructive decisions. These parts also present the Crunch Time! Decision-Making Strategies (hereafter referred to as either Crunch Time! Strategies or Strategies), as well as Strategy bullet-points called Strata-Gems. These Strategies and Strata-Gems have, with great consistency and efficacy, led me and my clients to make enhancing and success-evoking decisions. Please note that the strategies considered to be instructive/life-enhancing will be capitalized and italicized throughout the book (e.g., Strategies) for the sake of easy reference and identification, whereas those that have the potential to be diminishing or self-sabotaging will not (e.g., strategies).
Throughout Crunch Time!, there are stories involving my clients to help you to more fully visualize and absorb the points presented in each chapter.
Ready to begin feeling great about yourself and your decisions?
Let's get started ...
Excerpted from CRUNCH TIME! by KEN LINDNER Copyright © 2013 by Ken Lindner. Excerpted by permission of River Grove Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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