13 June 2011

Simple Decisions

My wife and I went hiking this morning, just a bit over 4 miles up a mountain and then back.  We left early because we always leave early for hikes.  We know how tiring they are, and we know that as the sun gets higher and the day gets hotter, it can be pretty miserable to still be out in the sun hiking.

We’re always amazed at the number of people who are just starting out on their hikes when we’re getting back.  We’re also amazed at the number of these people who look simply miserable because they’re already overheated and feeling exhausted because of the heat.

To us, it’s a simple decision–leave early and we never have to deal with excessive heat while we’re climbing up a mountain.  Every time we hike, though, we see people who haven’t made that decision, and who are suffering because of it.  They want to make it to the summit, but the task is much, much more difficult when they start late and are climbing during the hottest part of the day.  I wouldn’t think anything of it if these people looked like they were having fun, but most of them don’t look like they’re enjoying themselves at all–they’re just climbing because they decided to climb, and they’re going to reach the summit come hell or high water.

Life is so often about simple decisions.  If I know it’s going to be hot, do I want to be in the last half of a four-hour hike after noon?  Absolutely not.  If I have to get up at five tomorrow morning and I have control over what time I go to bed, do I want to stay up until midnight?  Nope.  If I know that I have a project due at work tomorrow and I’m not finished, do I still turn on the football game and watch it?  Hardly.

Of course, we can’t make other people’s decisions for them, but we certainly can make our own.  And most of them aren’t that complicated at all–situations generally get complicated when we make poor decisions to begin with and we have to start dealing with the results of the decisions.  For example, I’ve seen many people hiking late in the day with no water at all in the Grand Canyon–and they’ve brought all three kids with them.  When they turn around and start up the trail to climb out of the Canyon, you can believe that they’re going to be facing some serious problems with their thirsty and hungry kids who would rather be anywhere else.

Life’s often like a hike–we constantly have to make decisions as to where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.  And if the decisions are pretty simple, so much the better–let’s just try to make the decisions that will keep things simple so that we can avoid the fallout that almost always comes from making poor decisions.

We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.

Stephen Covey

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