Our Decisions Determine Our Future

To change your life, all you need to do is make a decision. What decision are you going to make?

Have you ever thought to yourself “How did I get to where I am today?” I do it quite often, and the answer to that question is YOUR DECISIONS. We make hundreds of decisions a day, and its human nature for us to think to ourselves “If I didn’t make that decision all those years ago, my life could be so much different.”

Thoughts like that bring up so many different emotions, but mainly regret, and if we continue to keep thinking this way then we are never going to be happy.

So, a way to change this is to stop thinking backwards all the time and think forwards to your future. Obviously, we can’t see the future, but we can determine our future by being creative.

It might be a bit difficult to take in just yet, but I assure you we can create our own futures. I’ll give you an example by using my overtime issue that I had in Scotland.

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There are a number of options I could take that are based on my decisions and will help me determine a different future for myself.

I was told with one day’s notice that I needed to cancel my plans and cover my teammate in the production management team at the weekend. If I don’t think before I react to this then I would have decided to get mad and upset.

1. What Future Are We Creating For Ourselves?

The future I was creating for myself would be one of: resentment from my teammates, disappointment in my boss, reducing my chances of future opportunities, and most important having a negative influence and breaking trust with the wider engineering team.

By making that decision and not thinking before I act, I could be encouraging others in the engineering team to act in the same way. Remember, we are always being observed and we are all role models, and by encouraging others to do the same would make me a very poor role model.

And, it probably wouldn’t be a one off either, this type of behaviour would go on for weeks and months. I have witnessed this in many other team members and in their leaders too.

This would not go unnoticed by my teammates and of course my boss, and would have a very negative impact on our relationship.

However, it would have a positive effect on my relationships with the engineers because I am sub-consciously encouraging them to behave in the same way, which actually is completely negative.

This behaviour by me could also have a very negative impact on our work output, and we would be letting down our customers at the train stations. That would damage the company’s reputation and we would also lose profit. What a future I have created for myself, my team, my boss and the whole organisation.

2. Do We Think Before We Act?

What if I was to really make an effort to THINK before I ACT? I would think about the team, the bigger picture, and I would definitely not be upset because the rest of the team are in the same boat as me. They would probably do the same for me too if I booked annual leave on the weekend.

Keep that in my mind they would do the same for me”. By behaving in this way, the future I was more than likely creating for myself would be one of: happy teammates, happy boss, increasing my chances of future opportunities and perhaps increase in pay.

I would also be increasing my influence and building trust with the wider engineering team.

By increasing my influence with the wider engineering team, this would also include the leadership team, as this kind of behaviour would not go unnoticed.

I would be sub-consciously be encouraging the engineers to behave in a positive way by being a positive role model to them, and with them following my example, others can follow their example.

With this type of positivity flowing through the team, work output and production would increase, our customers would be happier, profits would be up and the reputation of the company would be intact. Now, what a future I’ve created for myself, my team and for the organisation.

3. The Importance Of Our Decisions

Can you see the impact that just one decision can make on the world around you? Can you see the importance of our decisions, not just for ourselves but for the people closest to us?

Another decision I could have made would be to resign from my job because I was adamant I didn’t want to work the weekend, and again not thinking before I acted. We can all make that decision if we want to.

Nobody owns us, we can make whatever decision we want, when we want and how we want. But, what we must consider are the consequences to that decision, and how we would deal with them.

If I resigned on the spot and just walked out of the company without working my three months’ notice, then that would have a huge impact on my future career. My boss would most certainly give me an unpleasant reference.

If I resigned through the proper channels, discussed it with my boss, got another job offer and went through HR correctly then my future career would still look bright. I could also leave on pretty good terms and not “burn my bridges.”

Obviously resigning from a job because you didn’t want to work the weekend is a bit extreme, for me anyway. But hopefully you see the point I am trying to make when it comes to making decisions and creating a future for yourself.

We are actually creating our future right now, without even thinking about it by making the hundreds of decisions we make each day. It’s powerful to realise that if we think before we act, we could actually create the future that is best for us consciously rather than sub-consciously.

4. Taking Ownership For Our Decisions

What we must do when thinking of the decisions we have made in the past and the ones we will make in the future is take ownership for those decisions. Every decision you have ever made has been of your own accord, nobody else’s.

That is why you are where you are now, and where you are now is the exact place you should be. If you think you shouldn’t be where you are and you should be in a different place, then you would be there. Take ownership for where you are now, think before you act and you can create the future you want and deserve.

Taking ownership for your decisions isn’t easy but it is absolutely imperative that you do, if you want to move in the right direction for your career and life. You have nobody to blame but yourself for your decisions.

If you put the blame onto somebody else for where you are now, it will not improve the situation. Nothing that the person you have blamed will improve where you are, only you can do that.

In the world of business, you often hear in organisations that there is no blame culture. But, the fact that they have to state that there is no blame culture tells me that there is a blame culture. If there is no blame culture, then why even mention it?

Part of your role as a leader within your team is to ensure there is no blame culture. And, by you taking ownership for every decision you have ever made and will ever make will be noticed by your peers and boss, and shows good role model behaviours from you.

This will also increase your influence with the team and the wider teams in your organisation. It will also build up trust with them. If the rest of the team take ownership for their decisions too, then that will eliminate the blame culture forever.

Being part of a team in your place of work is not easy, especially if you work with strong characters in your team. It’s even harder when you want to progress and improve and win over those strong characters with your ideas and ambitions.

But, hopefully it’s really enlightening to you that the only person who can make things better or worse for you is you, based on what decisions you make.

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If you can get this principle over to your strong characters in the team so they can see it too, hopefully it will be enlightening to them. This could be the start of your leadership journey with them.

When you’re on your leadership journey, always remember that the hardest person to lead is yourself and that you are where you are because of you. So, if you want to create a better tomorrow for yourself then you have to start making the right decisions for yourself today.

Think about the decisions you made in the past and understand how those decisions got you to where you are now. When you have that understanding don’t dwell on those decisions because that will hold you back.

Be excited for the decisions you are about to make to create your future and the exciting leadership journey you are about to embark on.

To improve our situation, we must therefore improve ourselves first. Not the other way around

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

18 thoughts on “Our Decisions Determine Our Future

  1. Hi Tom,

    Another great article. I cannot agree more when you say that thinking before acting is essential.
    Most leaders fail to think and consider they employee’s special circumstances and act before they think, creating a lot of problems and misunderstandings.
    There is no doubt that our decisions influence our future. Everything we did or did not in the past it made us who we are.
    It is important to think and analyse before taking a decision, but refrain from overthinking.
    Keep up the good work.
    Kind regards,
    Yoana

    1. Hi Yoana,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      You are so right, most leaders do fail tho think before they act, and when they listen they don’t listen to understand and then reply, they listen to reply without understanding. That is when they can run into mistakes and lose trust with their people.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

    1. Hi John,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      I really appreciate you sharing that the article helped you to look within. If you need any further help then please do not hesitate to contact me.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Wow, this has definitely been one of the best articles that I have read on your website Tom. What you said at the beginning, about how many of us look back at our past decisions with regret, definitely hit close to home. Unfortunately, I do this every once in a while, but like you said, if I really thought that I should be doing something else in life, then I would be doing that. I need to remember that I must take ownership for my past decisions, while at the same time making good decisions that will lead me to a happy future.

    1. Hi Alejandro,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this article one the best because it really is one of my most important. Creating our futures is what I want to help a lot of other people to do.

      I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts, especially when looking back at your past decisions with regret. I felt exactly the same and we will still do this in the future when looking back. Just try to do it less often, and change your thoughts as fast as possible.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Hi Tom,

    I agree with you 100%. Most leaders these days, especially in big corporations don’t take responsibility for their actions. I have, in the past, also placed blame on others for wrongdoing, but at the end of the day, I also didn’t stop it, or chose to ignore it, so I too would be to blame for wrongful doing.

    I’ve worked in a lot of corporate worlds, and I always see the same thing when it comes to the really high ups. They don’t do a lot of the dirty work, but rather look at their sales spreads and continue to put more pressure on those lowest on the totem poles. Then, when the market is in a downward decline, they blame the lower associates, even terminate their employment, and simply hire new people.

    As the numbers continue to decline, they continue to place the blame on those under them, never taking ownership that it wasn’t the best plan in a downward market.

    Great article! Enjoyed reading this.

    Katrina

    1. Hi Katrina,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you agree with the article and that you found it valuable.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experiences and also being absolutely honest. That is the sign of a true leader…honesty. I too have been in exactly the same position as you, but what he have both done is TAKE OWNERSHIP and LEARN FROM IT. If we don’t learn from those actions and experiences then nothing will change.

      Keep up the amazing work you are doing.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. I agree with what you say, Tom. Yet, I am trying to compare it to the political world. Politicians are leaders as well. And take responsibility for their actions and those of their teams, or not. I am always wondering why resigning is explained by “I took my responsibility”, because now they don’t have to solve anything anymore and can leave that to their successors.
    Would you compare that to quiting a job, because you don’t want to work in the weekend? Or is it something else?

    1. Hi Hannie,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased this article has made you think a bit 🙂

      Politicians certainly are supposed to be leaders, and I definitely would not compare the resignation of a politician to resignation of a manager for not working the weekend. When a politician resigns, it can have a significant impact on their people or their constituents. Where if I would have quit, the only person it would have an effect on would be me.

      Great thoughts and great questions though. Keep them coming.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. It’s amazing how just making one small decision can map out your whole future, so what you say about thinking before we act is so much more important than we think, if we make just one bad decision it can have a chain reaction and not just effect you but the people around you.

    I can definitely think of so many times when situations could have gone so very differently had I chosen to react another way, I would be in a very different place to where I am now and not a good one!

    Have you ever made a decision you regret?

    1. Hi Amy,

      Thank you for your comment and great question. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      I really appreciate you sharing times when you have made decisions that could have been different. Every single person on the planet will have the same feelings.

      To answer your question, I have definitely made some decisions that I have regretted in my life. Especially when it comes to relationships with people, both personally and professionally. BUT, I have learned from those regrets, and did my best to not make the same mistakes.

      That is the most important thing, LEARN.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Tom,

    Loved the article, and it reminded of my favorite lesson in life. It came from a professor after she watched me falter on a series of projects due to some relationship issues I was having.

    “The only common thin in all of these failures is you.”

    She was right, it was my own poor decisions that were causing my failures. I ended the relationship shortly after talking with her and started spending more time on my art. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but once we get it, things can really change.

    This was a great reminder to start putting my focus where it needs to be. I’m looking to reading your book and seeing what else you have to teach.

    Thanks,
    Sean

    1. Hi Sean,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you loved the article.

      I really appreciate you sharing your life lesson with us as I believe a lot of people will be able to relate. I certainly can relate to you taking ownership on your poor decisions. That is most important that we do take ownership when reflecting on our past decisions. We will then find it a lot easier to move forward and create the future we want.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. I can dig where you are coming from there have many times in my life that if I had taken responsibility for myself and stopped blaming other people I could be further along in my career instead of still just working as a shop assistant.
    Thanks for the advice Tom

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you can dig where I’m coming from.

      So pleased that you took responsibility and stopped blaming other people for things that happened in your life. I did exactly the same, and when we do it opens up our minds and hearts to create the future we want for ourselves.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. This is a good article on how to create a future we desire.
    I personally always think about my actions and decisions on how they will affect my tomorrow.
    Truthfully, it’s the decisions we made yesterday that resulted in the events we are passing through today.

    1. Hi Damilare,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m pleased that you found this a good article.

      It’s great to hear that you do think about your actions and the decisions that you make. Keep that going and keep creating the future that you desire.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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