I think we all forget just how true this statement is. And I am here to remind you, with examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Buckle up…
Most of us have probably heard this before, and it is typically in the context of motivation The thought of “if I could just start this new thing, my life would be different soon”. Going back to school, quitting the job you hate, getting a promotion and make more money, etc. This is true, and as the old Roman Proverb states: “Starting means you are half way there” very much applies. The thing that holds so many people back is the fact that they never take the first step towards a new life. The enormity of the task prevents them from beginning, and therefore they stay put. For many, it is easier to stay in comfort and familiarity, even if it isn’t what you really want, than face the unknown and take on the task of something new.
The idea of what we want versus what we have should be enough to make someone take action, but this is not the case. As the Henry David Thoreau quote goes: “far too many people live a life quiet desperation, and go to their grave with their song trapped inside them“. It is the path of least resistance, and too many fall into this trap. But that first step is the key; if you can get yourself to do that, you are one your way to a different and better life. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable for a bit to get what you want. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will get the results you have always gotten, its as simple as that.
Here is another example but in a different context. You leave late for work, and in effort to make up time, you run a yellowish-red light in a busy intersection. This is a common practice, and most of the time we get away with it. But maybe today is different. Maybe this time you decide to push your luck and a truck pulls out in front of you and you get into an accident. Hopefully this is not a life and death scenario, but it certainly can be. That one decision you made changed your life in some way. You now have to get a new car, your insurance rates went up, those are the easy consequences. The hard stuff is things like you killed the other driver, you ended up in the hospital with major injuries and even more major medical bills. You were are fault, so you are footing the bill for much of this. You end up filing bankruptcy due to the medical bills. If you think this can’t happen, guess again, medical bills are the most common reason people file bankruptcy in the US. According to this article, serious injury and medical bills are the number one and two reasons, respectively. One decision changed your life.
Let’s take another look on the negative side of this, infidelity. I just got a message from a friend of mine that found out their spouse had been involved in an on-going affair with someone. It was a complete shock, and the divorce was immediate. There was no recovering from this, the trust had been broken. I did not ask too many details, but it may have been one seemingly innocuous decision that changed several lives. If the decision was to flirt with someone, share your number and start texting, connect through social media, whatever it was, that can be all it takes. The spouses, the kids, and both family’s lives have all been altered because of this action, and ultimately that one decision. It probably started out as innocent enough, but somewhere a line was crossed and the outcome became inevitable. It was just a matter of time, as this is hardly ever kept in the dark for long. There are signs along the way, and they do not go unnoticed. it starts with some distancing, some questionable behaviors, and it spirals downward from there.
As humans we have an amazing capacity for justifying our own actions. Speeding, cheating on a test, cheating on your spouse, it all starts out as a small thing, one minor transgression. The problem is the inability to amplify that one decision out over weeks and months. Pretty soon you’re in the habit of speeding to make up time, or your texting your side piece during the day just for the adrenaline rush of it. Something you swore to yourself was going to be a one-time thing is now an obsession you can’t escape. Minor actions can equal major consequences…we just don’t always see it in that fashion.
The good news is, your life is one decision away from being completely different. You can finally fill out that application and take your first class towards a degree, you can start that business on the side by designing a website and starting the process of setting up the business. In a short while, your life could be completely different; you could be debt free or quit that day job you hate to pursue something else since you now have the means to do so. But on the flip side, you are one decision away from a completely different life. You get close with someone at work, but it crosses the line to meeting outside of the office. You travel out of town and think you can get away with something just once, but it isn’t that simple. You connect with an old girlfriend through Facebook, and before long you are texting and making plans to see one another to see if that old spark is still there. One decision and you lose everything you have. Maybe it is boredom, complacency, or taking how good life really is for granted. But we humans can be selfish and wretched things when we allow ourselves to be.
I wish you luck in your endeavors, and be sure to make your choices wisely.