Maintaining Decisional Integrity

istock_000004277879xsmall.jpgI’m sure you have heard the expression before – the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We all have the best of intentions to achieve grand things, but how many times do we actually follow through?

New Year’s resolutions are a prime example. Every year on January 1st, people all over the world resolve to be nicer, to lose weight, to spend more time with their kids, or to relax more. The custom began around 4,000 B.C. in ancient Babylon, when they would resolve at the beginning of each new year to repay their debts or return borrowed property to their neighbors. It is a custom that continues today, but fewer and fewer people actually succeed in keeping their resolutions. Statistics show that by June 1, over 50 percent of all resolution makers have completely abandoned their goals.

One of the greatest problems is that many people set unrealistic goals, or do not know how to establish goals at all. In order to achieve success, your goals must be something you can reasonably accomplish. If they are not realistic, you will give up on them.

There are other things that can sabotage your road to success, though. This is where your personal decision making ability comes into play.

1. Life is Unpredictable

No matter how well laid out our plans are, life is going to throw us a curve ball. You can count on it. You can have the best planning in the world, and something will come up that can derail your efforts.

Even if you have an emergency or an unforeseen problem arise that takes you off of your schedule, make the conscious decision to stay on track with your goals the best that your circumstances allow. Maybe you resolved to exercise every day, but suffered a knee injury and were put out of commission for six weeks. Do not abandon your plans to exercise altogether. Have the decisional integrity to continue with upper body weight training while your knee heals, then motivate yourself to begin exercising again once you have recovered.

2. Make the Tough Choice

The right decisions are not necessarily the easy ones. You may have to fight every internal urge you have to do otherwise, but make the decision you know is right. Choose to live up to your own expectations. As difficult as it may be, if you have resolved to eat healthy, pass up the piece of cheesecake for dessert, even though everyone around you is indulging. (Yes, you may shed your tears over it later).

3. When all Else Fails, Compromise

Realize that you are human, after all. Nobody is perfect, so do not beat yourself up if you find you have veered off track. If you slip up one day, promise yourself you will pick up the next day where you left off.

You can also compromise with yourself in order to achieve your goals. Back to the cheesecake example – you may have decided to eat a more healthy diet, but the cheesecake is irresistible, and it happens to be your favorite dessert. Rather than dig into a slab of it, have two or three bites. Share a piece with a friend.

Compromising in such a way can actually keep you on track for reaching your goals better than completely denying yourself. If your mind or your body feels deprived, you are more likely to give into a total binge later on. This could be fatal to your success, because once you have binged, the guilt you feel can prevent you from continuing towards you goals. Allow yourself the compromise without giving up on your plan.

By implementing a few common-sense tricks, you can maintain your own decisional integrity and continue your progress towards success. Whatever your goals or resolutions may be, make sure you acknowledge them every day, and keep them at the forefront of your mind when you are making your choices.

You do not even have to wait until New Year’s Eve to make a resolution. Anytime you have a goal, resolve right then and there to accomplish it. Do not enter into your resolution blindly, though. Take the time to establish a reasonable goal, a workable timeline, and a realistic plan for getting there. You can even set up mini-goals as milestones to mark your progress along the way.

Thanks to Widow’s Quest for including this post in the Carnival of Positive Thinking, to The Next 45 Years for featuring this post in the Personal Development Carnival, and to Nourished Magazine for publishing this post in the Carnival of Nourishment.

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