The Decision Makeover: An Intentional Approach to Living the Life You Want

The Decision Makeover: An Intentional Approach to Living the Life You Want

by Mike Whitaker


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626344266
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 09/12/2017
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 832,232
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

A lifelong and successful entrepreneur, Mike Whitaker is an expert on personal and professional decision-making, turnarounds, and strategic planning. He is a no-nonsense business coach as well as speaker on topics that involve critical thinking about the future, offering unique perspectives and world-class solutions to help people achieve their goals.

Whitaker is the founder of Idea Gateway, a company that specializes in launching new businesses, providing expertise and capital for entrepreneurs. He is also a founder and board member for RevTech, a Dallas-based technology accelerator, and serves as Chairman of Lucas Color Card, a data product manufacturer he founded in 1995. These endeavors put Whitaker on the front lines of what is changing in business, technology, and for the American worker. 

As part of his desire to offer helpful tools for motivated people, he has launched two new platforms: The Idea Filter®an online idea assessment to help entrepreneurs separate the worthy concepts from the rest—and The Institute for Self Reliance—an online source for American workers who want to take control of their futures and their careers in an uncertain economy. 

Whitaker received his bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Kansas and earned his MBA from the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma. He is married and has three children who are also on the journey of discovering their passions, goals, and paths toward success. While his passions include family balance, entrepreneurship, and helping people achieve their dreams, Mike eagerly participates in competitive trapshooting as his sport of choice.

Read an Excerpt



Ouch. Have you ever had a broken heart? Lost a job? Missed an opportunity? Wished you had done the opposite of what you did? Do you carry any regrets about decisions you've made so far at this point in your life? Of course, we all can scream YES! to these questions. We have had more than one decision go bad. Sometimes, life can make us feel lucky or unlucky because the results seem to jump right into our lap — and we have to deal with them. Do you realize where these results come from?

Why does success seem more like something that happens to us instead of something we create? Most people fail to recognize the fact that opportunities come to us every day in the form of decisions. These decision opportunities can significantly change how our lives turn out, yet most people do not prepare for how they will assess a decision to yield a good outcome. In The Decision Makeover, you are the focus. Isn't your future worth a little focus? Of course it is!

Today, you could be in the middle of a big decision or wanting to be prepared for the next — and you may have uncertainty. How do you tend to make big decisions? Do you have a good process? How do we handle ourselves when someone or something is presented in front of us? There is much at stake and we need to think this through in a confident manner. We can prepare for the decisions that are certain to come and be ready when the opportunity arises. The results will be our own and will be the best they can possibly be.

How can anyone reach a destination without deciding to go there? How can an athlete win a race without deciding to run it? How does a lottery winner win without deciding to buy a ticket? How can a romance begin without someone deciding to break the ice? We humans are constantly making decisions, every minute of our conscious lives. In fact, what we "get out of life" is mostly dependent upon our decisions along the way. Our hearts beat and our lungs fill with air without requiring decision making. But beyond those innate functions, everything else in our lives stems from a decision we make or a decision made for us by someone else. Beyond what we decided to have for breakfast, the decisions get bigger and have more impact upon our lives. To our great credit or regret, we decide things like these: what school to attend (or not), who to marry (or not), what business to start (or not), what career/job to pursue (or not), how many children to have (or not), where to live, what makes us happy, what we will do for money, and thousands of other decisions that add up to significantly impact our lives.

Why Decisions Matter

We humans tend to make bad decisions — often. Like a cup full of holes, our bad decisions add up in our lives and drain away our forward progress toward what we really want. Think how much less effort would be required if we didn't punch so many holes into our future by making poor decisions!

Here is the bigger, better question: How do you make decisions? Do you make big decisions the same way you make small ones? Do you have a specific process? Do you pause to consider the consequences, or are you usually in a hurry? Most people make decisions with little thought to the long-term consequences. Bad decisions cause us pain and waste precious time in our lives. Bad decisions create regret we carry our whole lives.

However, what if there were a way to recognize the power of decisions and custom-fit those decisions to fit the life you want? What if there were a way to use every decision — both good and bad — as momentum toward a future you desire for yourself? What if you could change some bad decisions into good ones? What if you had a much greater sense of control over your life and you used good decision making to achieve it? All these things are possible as you begin your Decision Makeover, starting today. We have more power than we think. We will learn to use that power.

The Most Important Decision of Your Life

First of all, why are decisions so darn important? Think about driving and "who cares if I turn left or right?" The answer? Nobody cares until you have pinpointed a destination. Suddenly, with a destination in mind, the left turn takes you away from your destination and the right turn takes you toward it. So, for decisions to matter, we have to have a goal in mind.

"I always have to think about what's important in life to me are these three things. Where you started, where you are, and where you're going to be."


People often express a desire, "I want to be successful in life." I suggest that personal success is a nice goal to keep in mind. It is inspirational, it changes over time, and it should be your own definition of success. If I ask people in my network this question: "At the end of your life, when you look back over your years, if you were to describe your life as a success, how would you define that success, for you?" Their answers may surprise you:

"I used to think success was the quantity of the journey — the number of experiences that could be crammed in — but I now realize that success is the quality of the journey."

"If my life honors my God, leaves a net positive impact on the world, and creates a foundation for my spouse and children to pursue their own success, it will have been a success."

"If I did my very best in my various roles I played, such as the roles of son, father, provider, lover, teacher, student, companion, leader/follower, etc. within a movement or group or community."

"Success is not a static endpoint in my life. The elusiveness of it is what drives me each day to be better than I was the day before. So, it is my hope, at the true endpoint, that I can say service to God, family, and everyone else I encountered focused my drive for excellence."

"I made a difference. I was an honest person. I achieved love and happiness."

"Past successes seem to dwindle in their importance as time passes by; therefore, for me, success is a future pursuit. As I look back over my life, I am looking forward to being a person of dignity wrapped in courtesy, endurance coupled with patience, being able to bear disappointment or sorrow without deflecting another, willing and able to share wisely whatever knowledge I may possess."

Thus, my belief: Better decision making allows people to be in the position to achieve success — however people wish to define it for themselves.

Let's take a moment and visualize the thoughtful moment in the future when you are evaluating your life. There will be one decision, as you look back, that you will easily label as the most important decision you ever made, whether it turned out well or poorly. However, there will be a dozen decisions that you will consider significant to the path your life has taken. What were they? Do you want to be in control of that story? The truth is that you absolutely can! The movie director knows how the story is supposed to turn out before filming the movie. You are that director for your life. Roll film! With all the opportunities and roadblocks that life throws at us, we can learn to make the best choices, with the most confidence. This makes us feel extremely good while making significant improvements to our success story. This is your opportunity. Isn't it exciting that we will change between the beginning and the end of this book?

Why We Make Decisions

We make decisions because we have to. Life requires making choices. The more roads we travel, the more possible turns we must consider. It's easy for most people. For some folks, big decisions are anxiety-ridden burdens. But everyone has to answer yes or no, choose left or right, decide to leave or stay, choose him or her, select vanilla or chocolate, etc. The number of decisions we make is so large we don't even notice how often we are deciding something. Decisions are break points in our journey, regardless of how trivial, that determine the next moment or the next twenty years. Once we decide, the alternative choices can no longer be chosen and are lost for now, or forever. Not making a decision, choosing none of the options, is difficult because we desire to make progress toward what we want. Life brings decisions because we have needs and other people demand action from us. Each decision is a step in life. Our decisions are steps forward, sideways, or backward.

How We Usually Make Decisions

Ask someone, "How do you make decisions?" and watch their facial expression. It's an odd question, but it shouldn't be odd. It's something we humans do every five minutes of every waking hour. Their answer should be nearly as easy as responding to, "How do you get out of bed in the morning?" Yet the answers to our decision question are not polished. Some people shrug their shoulders and say, "I dunno. I just think about it for a moment." Others say, "I do what feels right to me." If we inject honesty into most answers, "How do you make decisions?" would be answered this way: "I make decisions by trial and error ... and I try not to repeat the error." In driving, when I make a wrong turn, I resolve to only do it once. Next time I will remember and avoid the problem. So trial and error works, right? Wrong.

Here's why trial and error, the most commonly used decision-making strategy, absolutely fails to deliver life success for people: Trial and error fails because we select at least one of our options each time — when the best choice for us may be to choose none. Perhaps none of the choices fits what is best for our success.

Trial and error fails because what we remember is only why the error was bad. Do we get where we want by taking all the wrong turns until, once we have eliminated them all, we have narrowed down the only right choice? I know adults who take that approach in finding a spouse, and the result is chaos. Trial and error does not focus upon why each of our options makes sense in the big picture. The question should be: Does this choice best support my personal definition of success?

So now that we are warming up on this decision topic, we are going to have you test your decision-making ability by looking at your experiences up to today.

Being Aware of the Real Decision

As I drive to work along my normal route, I enjoy my coffee, listen to music, and make the usual turns to reach my office and park my car. I drive this route without making a single decision. Yet, the first time I drove this route, my trip was full of decisions! Which route? Turn here? Left lane? Merge now? The mental state is important for detecting that we are approaching a decision. It would be nice if flashing red lights and crossing barriers would lower in front of us (like the train crossing on my route) when a decision is before us. Often, we are presented with a small question and, without realizing it, we are in the middle of a bigger decision. Thus, an awareness of decisions in front of us (the real decision) is essential. If we are not aware, we cannot respond appropriately.

Example 1: A coworker asks you to go out to lunch.

The decision is "Lunch? Yes or No?"

However, the bigger decision looms via a barrage of questions: "Is this a date?" "What's his situation?" "LOL, what's my situation?" "Will this affect our working relationship?" "Do I find him attractive?" "What do I wear?" etc. etc.

The bigger decision is "Am I openly dating? Yes or No?" If Yes, "Is he worthy of my time and attention? Yes or No?"

Example 2: A friend invites you to a networking event. The decision is "Do you want to attend? Yes or No?"

Often we are tired of wasting time with the wrong people. The most important factor is why you would go to this networking event. What is the bigger goal this event supports?

The bigger decision is, "Can the people attending this event directly impact my career?" Also, we can ask ourselves, "Is there a higher quality event I can attend instead of this one?"

Example 3: A realtor invites you to look at a home way above your price range. The decision is, "What time works for you to view the house on Saturday? Two p.m. or four p.m.?"

Ding, ding, ding ... warning bells ... This isn't a harmless activity. Once you see the house you cannot afford, the house you can afford will never be good enough. Or, you will dumbly overbuy and be stressed financially, and that leads to all kinds of damage.

The bigger question is, "Does this house qualify as a good fit?"

Example 4: A teenager is offered a cigarette. The decision is, "Do I smoke it? Yes or No?"

No teenager wants to consider at this point that they may become addicted and will spend $40,000 on cigarettes and die (on average) twenty years early.

The bigger decision is, "Am I a smoker? Yes or No?" If not, a nonsmoker doesn't smoke.

Example 5: A student visits the premium coffee shop for his daily coffee fix. Drip coffee is $2 and the latte is $5. He alternates between both choices. The decision today is: "$2 or $5?"

Since money is tight for most students, the bigger question is, "Is this the best way to spend $2,500 over four years, or should this money be allocated toward other priorities?"

Being aware of a decision and its total impact over time is a skill. It is like trying to train your mind to play "Where's Waldo?" and the goal is simply to find the decision and stomp your feet for recognition.

Who's Keeping Score?

Show me the kid in the game that announces "I don't want to keep score anymore" and I'll show you who is losing.

Everyone is keeping score. Regardless of your definition of success, the truth is it's a dog-eat-dog world out there: fifty applicants for every open job, limited college openings, limited income, limited investors for new businesses, limited loans from limited banks, limited quality single men and women, etc. The world is competitive! To be human is to compete. Everyone wants to win. Some are trying harder than others. Some get lucky. But there must be more losers than winners. Those are the odds. You win when you beat the odds. Winners have the best skills in decision making.

Aside from defining success for a lifetime, here's another big question: What do you want out of life? The younger you are, the more difficult it is to answer that question. It's good to be selfish when asking yourself, "Yeah, what do I want? What is important to me?"

Do you realize that you are the only person on the planet thinking of those answers on behalf of you? That's it! Just you. So, isn't it important to be keeping some kind of score for yourself?

What I achieved — What I wanted My Score

Does this simple subtraction exercise create pause for you? This is a tough concept. Take heart; we dream and we plan and we watch other people — and those visions create the picture of what we want. We are good dreamers and not very good accountants when we are scoring our progress. We get a negative score when our dreams are greater than our achievements — which is painful to admit later in life. Thus, the simplest way to make this subtraction problem look better is to lower your expectations. That is not what you should do, but it is what people must do when they make bad decisions.

For the sake of this book's ability to help you, let's generally define life success as an ability to say to ourselves:

"I led a fulfilling life that challenged me in the ways I wanted to be challenged. From where I started in life, I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. I saw the things I wanted to see, I am OK with what I did not experience. I helped people I wanted to help. I am generally pleased with the choices I made in this life."


Would you be satisfied if you could say the above to yourself?

Undo: If Only It Were This Easy

Undo, redo, it's something I wish I could use all the time. I went left, figured out I should have gone right, and a simple "undo" would save me a whole lot of time and frustration. It's the science fiction in movies where we fantasize about being able to go back in time, even for a few seconds, and choose differently. The ultimate time machine can provide the ability to right a wrong or take the unchosen path, using hindsight to improve an outcome. However, in real life, we don't get the undo. Once someone is hurt, they're hurt. Once we say "I do," we're in. When we choose A, we have denied B through Z. When there is no undo, we're left only with, "I'm sorry." We can apologize to others and ourselves for bad decisions, but we never get the time or resources back. When we lose time, we lose the ability to achieve what we want in this life.

Forks in Our Road

"If you come to a fork in the road, take it."


A fork is a choice you find in the path before you. Most people look at each fork as an independent event where they either choose left or right. I do not believe the forks that lead to success are independent in our lives. Rather, I believe success momentum comes from interdependent decisions that turn out to be the correct choices. It's about making a series of great decisions. A good decision opens up the next possible good decision, etc.


Excerpted from "The Decision Makeover"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Idea Gateway, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Decisions: Why and How We Make Them 9

Personal Exercise: Am I a Good or Bad Decision Maker?

Personal Exercise: Your Plan for This Book

Chapter 2 The Cost of Choosing Poorly 29

Chapter 3 The Size of Decisions 35

Chapter 4 The Decision Zones 63

Personal Exercise: Biggie Decision Inventory

Chapter 5 Decisions Define Us 81

Chapter 6 What We Do Wrong 95

Chapter 7 Decisions Cause Us Pain 123

Personal Exercise: Regret Inventory

Chapter 8 We Can Do Better 133

Personal Exercise: My Greatest Dividends and the Decisions that Got Me There

Chapter 9 Your New Toolkit 149

Personal Exercise: My Prime Goals

Personal Exercise: My #1 Goal

Chapter 10 Putting it All Together-In the act 161

Chapter 11 When Decisions Go Bad 173

Personal Exercise: My Unacceptables

Personal Exercise: A Failure on Life Support

Personal Exercise: Fail or Fix?

Personal Exercise: A Big Fail

Chapter 12 Cleaning up the Past and Present 203

Personal Exercise: What to STOP

Personal Exercise: What to REVERSE

Chapter 13 Moving (And Living) Forward 213

Acknowledgments 223

Index 227

About the Author 237

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The Decision Makeover: An Intentional Approach to Living the Life You Want 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
6344383 More than 1 year ago
This book gave me a clear direction on how to make positive choices for myself, my family, and my career. Easy and quick to read with interesting stories. Great book!