“I just decided to ...”
During almost all my corporate seminars on change and improvement, I would ask the audience this question … "Is there anyone here today who smoked for at least 10 years, stopped smoking on their own at least five years ago, stopped instantly and never smoked again?”
In most cases a few hands would go up and I’d interview one or two people and have them share their story. Some of the stories were extraordinary! They told what motivated them to stop instantly a habit they had been chained to for at least 10 years. The reasons ranged from their doctor’s dire predictions of health problems, to their children’s pleas …”I don’t want you to die, Mommy! My teacher said smokers die of lung cancer. Please don’t die and leave me alone!”
After their description of the event that led up to their breaking of the habit, I’d ask, “So, as a result of that, what did you do?” It was startling to me that the vast majority of those sharing their story would use the exact same words to explain their actions. They would say: “After my doctor said that, I decided to stop” or “When my little girl asked for her birthday gift to be that I would stop smoking, at that very minute I decided to never smoke again—and I never did!”
Why such power in just two words? Let’s take them one at a time. The first word is the most important—“I.” It wasn’t the doctor, the child or anyone else—it was the individual! Of course! The individual was the only one who could take the necessary action!
It’s the same with you and the things in your life you want to change or do—it’s up to YOU, not someone else. Real permanent change begins with the acceptance of personal responsibility—“If it is to be, it is up to me.” Make that your motto and creed, and know that it’s you, and only you, who can and will make the improvement happen!
Next word —“decided” means “to reach a decision.” A decision is the act of making up one’s mind. It’s not wishing, hoping or trying! It’s a firmness and a determination that “I will” do something.
The brilliant philosopher Goethe said this: ”At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you.” Oh, how true! Just think back to your past commitments — those “I decided to” moments like going to college, getting a certain job, losing weight, stopping smoking. Once you truly “decided to” you found the resources, the people and the support you needed. In many cases they might have just seemed to magically appear. Well, not really magically…it’s just that universal force coming to the aid of those who decide to!
When those audience members told their life changing stories and said “I decided to stop smoking that minute and never smoke again,” it was over! The end! Decision made—no second thoughts!
My follow-up question proves this. After the audience applauded for each story, I’d quietly ask, “So how hard was it to stop a habit you’d had for so many years?”
The answers, again, were almost always identical. “Oh, it was almost effortless.” Now, you might say, “No way. You can’t just stop smoking cold turkey and not face a severe struggle.”
Again, I’d ask a follow-up question. “Had you ever attempted to stop smoking before that incident and then found you couldn’t stop?” Most of them had the exact same reply: “Oh yes, dozens of times…but that’s because I didn’t really decide to. I wanted to, tried to, hoped to, but only when I really truly decided to, could I do it.”
Now it’s your turn. Think of something you’d like to do, but just haven’t been able to do yet. Lose weight? Run a mile? Break 90 at golf? Learn to speak Spanish? Dance? Play piano? Be rich? Whatever it is, decide to do it!
It’s not just saying those words, “I decided to” — it’s really meaning it and committing to yourself to do it. You CAN do it! Just decide to!