The Difference Between a Choice and a Decision

This transcript is based on the February 5th, 2013 podcast WAKE UP: The Difference Between a Choice and a Decision

The Difference Between a Choice and a Decision

There is an important difference between a decision and a choice. A decision is something you make when you don’t have control over a situation. We all have lots of decisions we must make in everyday life that involves things we must get done.

Take paying your bills, for example. I tend to gravitate towards directing my attention and energy to where I can make the most impact. I have a terrible habit of procrastinating on the little things sometimes. Little things like taking care of bills can become important if you neglect them too long! All of a sudden they become an emergency and dealing with them is a much bigger hassle. They become decisions you have no choice but to make.

Personal power comes from choice not decision.

Every day we have certain things we have to do, and other things that we can choose to do or not to do. Paying a bill before it is due is a choice – you don’t have to do it. Nobody forces you to pay it early. You choose to. There is huge power in choice.

In life, almost everything we do we have the opportunity to make a choice before we have to make a decision. A choice is proactive; a decision is reactive. Do you see how choosing to do things puts you in a position of power over them? You dictate when and how things are done instead of having them force themselves on you.

There’s a little trick that I use to give myself more of this power. I have always had an idiosyncrasy I want to let you in on: I don’t like to do what I am told. It’s in my DNA. I got it from my non-conformist, rebel Hungarian grandfather who was an entrepreneur too. Ever since, I was a kid, I’ve resisted control. I’ve always felt as though the rules are for other people. If the speed limit is 40, you bet I am going at least 45. My attitude is: “Don’t tell me what to do”.

Although I was usually a good employee when I had a fulfilling job, this trait sometimes made me to not care about my job especially when I wasn’t feeling inspired about it anymore. I would self sabotage, making up reasons why I had to go in late or not at all.

Here’s the trick I found: if I make the choice to act on things before I have to, it feels as though I have “power” over those things.

Personal power comes from choices, not decisions. Most of society just accepts life as it comes to them, conditioned to live with things as they are. Our families, co-workers, and friends influence the way we do things just so we can “be like everyone else”. Really, when you think of it, how much of your life is your choice if you live that way? Where is your power to point your life where you want it to go?

At one point, I looked at myself and said, “If I could live any life I wanted, what would it be?”

No one forced me to think like this. I chose to. My circumstances motivated me; I didn’t like feeling unfulfilled at my job or being told what to do. I hated the idea of building my boss’s dream, retirement, and kids’ futures more than my own.

Screw that!

Most of all, I wanted choice. I knew I had the potential to surpass my coworkers. I was tired of “the politics” and backstabbing that was required in order for me to ‘move up the ladder’. I wanted to choose whether I work late and sleep in or not. I wanted to choose what I did with my day.

Over the next three weeks, we’re going to discuss how you can structure your life in such a way that you are always making choices and living in a position of power. (More on this later!) You’ll still have to do all the small stuff of course, as I still do today, but your outlook on life will be completely different.

“My life sucks!” How many times a day do we hear that!

I can’t tell you how many times I heard my co-workers complain about their lives! That was because they were doing what they were doing out of obligation, not choice. They decided to live that way instead of choosing. Big difference.

The mundane things, like paying bills, will still need to get taken care of. Only now, I can choose to do them before a certain point rather than have to do them at a specific time. This goes back to the outcome I desire. Not to have the bills paid, but to have a life of my choosing. The ultimate outcome I desire is that control of life on my terms. This isn’t just about willpower or having enough determination, which believe it or not, I don’t have a lot of.

It’s a matter of setting your life up for success your way.

If you put something in front of me right now and told me, “You have to do this right now”, my reaction would be, “How can I get out of this?” I resist being told what to do. It’s just the way I am. Whether that’s childish or immature, (or both), it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I have figured out how to make the way I am, work for me.

I can just hear it now…this is when some people will say, “Well Jay, you are just so much more motivated”, or, “Not everyone can do that.” Bullshit! Nothing gets me more fired up than hearing someone say that!

Our lives are all puzzles to be figured out. We all have the pieces we need to assemble it. If we live by obligation, we’re just shuffling the pieces around instead of choosing to put them in the right places.

How do we know we’re placing the pieces correctly? By keeping the outcome in mind and knowing what the final picture should look like.

The outcome is a beautifully completed puzzle the pieces can make if arranged properly. By having your life with the outcome in front of you, what it’s supposed to look like is always crystal clear to you. If you have that, it’s much easier to put the pieces in the right places!

If you are saying, “But I can’t be an entrepreneur, I don’t have what it takes”, I have two words for you: “bull shit!”

Strategy is key.

Over the next three weeks, I’ll show you how putting the pieces together is actually the easy part. The reason 90% of people out there live just to survive instead of living a life of their choosing is because they don’t sense of the outcome they  desire. They can’t see what the picture is that the pieces in their lives are supposed to create. They just go to work and perform a certain way because it’s required of them. They do what they have to, not what they choose to.

You need the right strategy to create a life of choice. It doesn’t just happen by accident. It’s really cheesy but true: “If you fail to plan, plan to fail”. Let me say this another way: even if you know the outcome you want, you must have a strategy on how you’ll fit all those pieces together to create that outcome.

There are some very simple things you can do every day to explode your productivity, and that comes from having a strategy. With the right strategy in place, you’ll know you’re doing the right things towards getting the outcome you want, not to mention, you’ll also make substantially more money along the way!

We’ll cover these strategies over the next three weeks in a three part WAKE UP Call series. We’ll talk about what I call your X, Y, and Z factors (or X, Y, and Zed factors, for my Canadian and British friends.)

Next week we’ll identify your X factors – the special talents that make you unique. Then we’ll continue the following week to your Y factors, which represent how you operate and do things the way you do. Finally, we’ll wrap up in the third week with your Z (or Zed) factor, which is the special sauce you have that can help you capitalize on your X factors and maximize your Y factors. That’s the leverage factor. We’ll talk about different types of leverage – the internet, your marketing, even your own credibility – and how you can use these to take your talents, gifts, and abilities out to the world.

Visualize a triangle with each of these factors as a point in that triangle. This is what I call your Value To Society, or VTS. If you draw a line from each factor to the other, the surface area inside that line is your value to society. Now you can visualize how this triangle becomes larger (and your value goes up) by improving on any one of these three factors. By doing that, your value to society goes up, and so will your results.

I’m really excited to continue this next week! Meanwhile, if this inspired you, share it with your family and friends.

The Toronto Star called me a “younger, hipper Tony Robbins” last year (huge honor!), and that made me think to myself, “Gosh, what if I can be the hipster with tattoos and not over-sized teeth who helps make people live their best lives?”

I want to do the best with what I’ve been given, and for me, that means helping you to do that in your own life.

That’s what my completed picture looks like. Now it’s time for you to find yours and start putting it together. Plenty more on this next week!