Boris Pasternak once said, “Man is born to live and not to prepare to live.” Tony Robbins makes it abundantly clear that the most powerful way to shape our lives is to get ourselves to take action. The difference in the results that people produce comes down to what they have done differently from others in the same situations. Different actions produce different results.Why? Because any action is a cause set in motion, and its effect builds on past effects to move us in a definite direction. Every direction leads to an ultimate destination: our destiny.

In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It is not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently. The key and most important question, then, is this: What precedes all of our actions? What determines what actions we take, and therefore, who we become and what our ultimate destination is in life? What is the father of action?

The answer, Robbins believes is: the power of decision. Everything that happens in your life—both what you are thrilled with and what you are challenged by—began with a decision. “I believe that it is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”The decisions that you are making right now, every day, will shape how you feel today as well as whom you are going to become this year, next year, and in the decades to come.

More than anything else, it is believed that it is our decisions, not the conditions of our lives that determine our destiny. There are people who were born with advantages: they have had genetic advantages, environmental advantages, family advantages, or relationship advantages. Yet we constantly meet, read, and hear about people who against all odds have exploded beyond the limitations of their conditions by making new decisions about what to do with their lives. “They have become examples of the unlimited powerof the human spirit.”

If we decide to, we can make our lives one of these inspiring examples.How? Simply by making decisions today about how we are going to live in this decade and beyond. If you do not make decisions about how you are going to live, then you have already made a decision. You are making a decision to be directed by the environment instead of shaping your own destiny. “My whole life changed in just one day—the day I determined not just what I would like to have in my life or what I wanted to become, but when I decided who and what I was committed to having and being in my life. That is a simple distinction, but a critical one,” Robbins reiterates.

Not only do you have to decide what results you are committed to but also the kind of person that you are committed to becoming. You have to set standards for what you consider to be acceptable behavior for yourself, and decide what you should expect from those you care about.

Johann Goethe says assuredly, “Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth – that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.”

Making a true decision means committing to achieving a result, and then cutting yourself off from any other possibility. After making a true decision, even a tough one, most of us feel a tremendous amount of relief. We have finally gotten off the fence; and we all know how great it feels to have a clear and unambiguous objective.

This kind of clarity gives you power. With clarity, you can produce the results that you really want for your life. The challenge for most of us is that we have not made a decision in so long we have forgotten what it feels like.

“Three decisions that you make every moment of your life control your destiny. These three decisions determine what you will notice, how you will feel, what you will do, and ultimately what you will contribute and who you become. If you do not control these three decisions, you simply are not in control of your life. When you do control them, you begin to fashion your experience.” The three that are your decisions about: what to focus on; what things mean to you; andwhattodoto create the results you desire.

You see, it is not what is happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it is your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you are going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny. Know that if anyone is enjoying greater success than you in any area, they are making these three decisions differently from you in some context or situation.

Too many of us do not make the majority of our decisions consciously, especially these three absolutely crucial ones; in so doing, we pay a major price. In fact, most people live what Robbins calls “The Niagara Syndrome.” He believes that life is like a river, and that most people jump on the river of life without ever really deciding where they want to end up. So, in a short period of time, they get caught up in the current: current events, current fears, current challenges. When they come to forks in the river, they do not consciously decide where they want to go, or which the right direction for them is. They merely “go with the flow.” They become a part of the mass of people who are directed by the environment instead of by their own values. As a result, they feel out of control. They remain in this unconscious state until one day the sound of the raging water awakens them, and they discover that they are five feet from Niagara Falls in a boat with no oars. At this point, they say, “Oh, my God!” But by then it is too late. They are going to take a fall. Sometimes it is an emotional fall. Sometimes it is a physical fall. Sometimes it is a financial fall. “It is likely that whatever challenges you have in your life currently could have been avoided by some better decisions upstream.”

There will be times when you are on the river alone and you will have to make some important decisions on your own. The good news is that if you are willing to learn from your experience, then even times you might think were difficult become great because they provide valuable information (key distinctions)that you will use to make better decisions in the future. “In fact, any extremely successful person you meet will tell you—if they are honest with you—that the reason they are more successful is that they have made more poor decisions than you have.”

No matter how prepared you are, there is one thing that can be absolutely guaranteed: if you are on the river of life, it is likely you are going to hit a few rocks. That is not being negative; that is being accurate. The key is that when you do run aground, instead of beating yourself up for being such a “failure,” remember that there are no failures in life. There are only results.If you did not get the results you wanted, learn from this experience so that you have references about how to make better decisions in the future.

One of the most important decisions you can make to ensure your long-term happiness is to decide to use whatever life gives you in the moment. The truth of the matter is that there is nothing you cannot accomplish if: 1) You clearly decide what it is that you are absolutely committed to achieving, 2) You are willing to take massive action, 3) You notice what is working or not, and 4) You continue to change your approach until you achieve what you want, using whatever life gives you along the way.

Deciding to commit yourself to long-term results rather than short-term fixes is as important as any decision you will make in your lifetime. Failing to do this can cause not only massive financial or societal pain, but sometimes even the ultimate personal pain.

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