Look For the Gains

This past week, I learned a new way of looking at decisions.

I met Colleen Story at the Idaho Writers Conference earlier this year, saw her again at the West Texas Writers Academy (see her blog at http://colleenmstory.com/what-i-discovered-on-my-texas-speaking-tour/ for her experiences there), and then heard her present again last week at a meeting of the Idaho Editors and Writers Association. She’s an excellent speaker on optimizing your potential and time.

One point that struck me during her talk last week was about making decisions and taking risks: focus on what you have to gain, not what you are losing. I needed to hear that.

Making life-altering decisions is hard, especially when you don’t always agree with your spouse. In the past, Hubby and I listed pros and cons to doing something which in some ways is useful. That process helped us with a few decisions.

Other times, we’ve discussed a few things, and our decision came down to being afraid of losing something we had. Some things are worth hanging on to (my spouse, my family, etc.), but some things are not. If our focus is on what we may lose rather than what we may gain, we’re letting fear of the unknown rule our decisions. Sometimes we must take a big breath and make that leap of faith to bigger and better things.

It reminded me of the leap of faith I took when I moved to Boise. I’d never been here before and knew no one, but my dream job was here, and the chance for promotion came with it. Hubby was within a year of being able to retire. We’d already talked about me chasing my career dreams so when the opportunity came, I took it. I had too much to gain to not accept the challenge. It was hard for a while with me living here and Hubby living back “home,” but we worked out a plan and made the most of it. I’ve never regretted it.

Making big decisions are hard because we never know for sure what the best thing to do is and the uncertainty of the consequences of the action make us hesitate. Sometimes the opportunities pass, leaving us filled with regret over not taking the chance.

Hubby and I are pondering some big decisions. I think this time, instead of listing pros and cons, we should list what we have to gain by the decision to be made. If there isn’t much to be gained, the decision should be easy. If there’s a lot to be gained, the decision should be easy. Mixing in gut feelings and a lot of prayers should clinch the deal.

If you have a chance to hear Colleen speak, it’s worth your time. Check out her book, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue. It transcends writers and helps anyone improve their time management and boost productivity.

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