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have something in common. We have both done some really dumb stuff. Stuff we hope nobody ever finds out about. Stuff we wish we could forget. People we wish we had never gone out with, friends we wish we hadn't listened to, tests we wish we hadn't cheated on, words we wish we hadn't yelled at Mom and Dad. Places we shouldn't have hung out, things we shouldn't have seen, parties we should have declined when invited.
If you're like me, you look back and wonder, How could I have been so foolish, so ignorant, so ... dumb? We should have known better. In most cases, we did know better, but we thought we could beat the odds. Despite what our gut and a couple of friends told us, we believed that we could control the outcome of our decisions. So we followed our hearts, listened to our emotions, and then let the chips fall where they may. And then we paid for it later. And now we wonder what in the world we were thinking.
Some of our decisions we wish we could unmake led to chapters of our lives we wish we could go back and un-live. Going out on a blind date is one thing. Carrying on a relationship with someone who doesn't have the same morals and values as you can hurt for a long time.
What's obvious now wasn't so obvious then. And what's obvious to us now may not be so obvious to everybody around us. Then you come across a friend who is about to make the same dumb mistake that you made. You know that guy is no good, or that crowd is bad news. You try to warn your friend, but she doesn't listen. Instead, she endures your tales of woe, thanks you for the unsolicited advice, and continues full speed ahead into the oncoming train. And you think back and wonder, Could I have possibly been that naive? That stubborn? That foolish? That dumb?
When we watch people we know-or strangers for that matter-make foolish decisions, it may seem as if they are intentionally trying to mess up their lives.
Having watched dozens of people methodically waste their lives, potential, and money, I've concluded that while nobody plans to mess up their life, the problem is that few of us plan not to. That is, we don't put the necessary safeguards in place to ensure a happy ending.
Nobody plans to have a baby before graduating high school.
Nobody plans on coming home the second semester of their sophomore year at college because they were better at going to parties than going to class.
Nobody plans to develop an addiction, but it happens. Why? A lack of necessary precaution.
Not looking ahead many times leads us right to where we weren't planning on going. Places we really didn't want to go.
The reality is that it is up to you. In many ways, where you end up at thirty or forty years old will be a direct result of the decisions you make now. Is there a way to avoid the traps that so many fall victim to?
Yep. There is one question you can ask that will provide the answer for you. Better yet, this question will help you stay out of the situations and circumstances that can rob you of your potential, your opportunities, and your future.
Excerpted from UP 2 U by ANDY STANLEY HEATH BENNETT Copyright © 2005 by Andy Stanley. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted April 7, 2013