Every day, we make thousands of decisions, both big and small. Many of these decisions occur, subconsciously, as habits and routines; while others, deliver a drastic impact on our lives whether realized or not. Our choices ultimately dictate our health, happiness, and well-being among other things. Life is a series of obstacles where your involuntary and voluntary decisions dictate the next possible paths. If life isn’t going as planned, a simple shift into a mindful decision-making process will instantly branch you into a new direction.
Throughout my twenties, I worked as much as possible putting myself through college and paying the bills that resulted from my consumerist nature. I made ends meet, for the most part, but it was clear that I was in a losing battle. It was easy to blame all of the wrong things and pretend I was the victim being underpaid and overcharged. The truth is, I was making poor decisions.
I am one of the few people who actually love food shopping and cooking, but was eating out for the majority of my meals. Throughout college, I worked full-time hours while maintaining a heavy course load (5 to 6 three-credit courses per semester) and still managing to go out every night. For a period, I would buy new clothes rather than do laundry. I would consume alcohol often and in excess while functioning on virtually zero sleep. When I wasn’t making my own poor decisions, I was running like a hamster on a wheel in the decision-making department. I was not happy, healthy, or living well.
Decisions to Help Others But Not Myself
I have a feeling that many people will relate here, especially women. When we care about someone, we often give more than we are able. Have you ever felt obligated to give a gift or help a friend in need, but deep down you knew by giving it cost you in another way. A gift is only a gift if both the giver and receiver benefit. Helping or giving to others should not be a burden on oneself. To be honest, it is selfish to provide when you cannot afford to; not kind and generous. Please understand, keeping up appearances should never be the reason for your actions.
Bad Choices A Plenty
At 24, I bought a home on my own and believed I was on top of the world. Shortly after, I lost my job and was unable to take the time to find a job paying similar compensation. For as long as I could, I struggled through changing jobs to get by; slowly adding to my bills to the point where I eventually abandoned ship and moved back home. Fortunately, I was able to rent the house, but the rent I was able to get didn’t even cover all of the actual expenses.
For years, I was living beyond paycheck to paycheck but still felt that I was able to pitch in to pay for a friend for a meal, drink, or some gas. Over time, I was self-imposing burdens on myself to help “friends.” My credit cards remained fixed at their limits despite paying as much as I could each month. My more successful friends seemed always to be busy, while those who were also struggling to get by were readily available for a good time. Ultimately, those who I was surrounding myself with were fostering a “pity party” environment, and we were always chasing excitement, not happiness. Regularly, I would hear my friend’s and family’s grievances and offer assistance. I was in no place to do such a thing.
Eventually, my tenant moved on, so I attempted to sell the house. Due to the market, the home sat vacant long enough where an agent found a squatter sleeping in a bedroom during a showing. I had no takers on selling the house and now worried about leaving it empty. Interestingly enough, I found someone who needed a place to live. However, this person was claiming they were barely able to pay, so I further undercharged and, eventually, they stopped paying altogether. To make it worse, I felt so sorry for this person that I was even buying and cooking them food regularly. Broke, mentally defeated, and financially leaking at the seams, I waited over a year to start the eviction process. Only to find out in the end that the tenant was also subletting it for profit while not paying me and taking my food.
When we are staying present in the moment, we tend to notice our natural instincts much more clearly. We are active, rather than passive as we chart our daily course. In today’s hectic society, people have too much on their mind, and all too often we overlook what seem to be small, day-to-day decisions like chores or what to eat. In a short time, we have set many aspects of our lives on auto-pilot without considering the impact. Without mindful attention, as time goes on, more important decisions are made passively. With this mindset, it is difficult to recognize the significant, good choices you may have made but intensifies the recognition and poor feelings of mistakes or poor decisions.
Active decision-making forces us to acknowledge our successes and accomplishments along with our struggles and failures throughout the day. Many will blame lack of motivation, but to be honest, the small chores in life are the hardest to do. Seriously, when will anyone ever feel like doing laundry? It, unfortunately, does have to get done at some point. Instead of hesitating, jump into action, and the necessities of life are taken care of quickly.
A few simple decisions to start your day feeling accomplished:
- Wake up and get out of bed without hitting the snooze bar
- Make your bed
- Complete a workout
- Have a nutritious breakfast
- Prepare lunch for work or school
- Start a meal in the slow cooker for dinner
Making Better Decisions
Indeed, the decision I made to start the eviction process was the catalyst for building a better life for myself. At this point, I realized my problems were self-inflicted and self-exacerbated. I created and allowed terrible experiences in my life, then let them manifest uncontrollably. For me, I had to be scolded to understand that by helping others I was ruining my own life. My situation was so bad that it almost cost me my relationship with my now husband. From rock bottom, I dusted myself off and committed to making intentional decisions to better myself going forward. Forging your path in life is not only possible but also simple if you are mindful when making decisions. Our self-depreciating thoughts and inactions create the blockades in our life.
This psychological turning point in late 2013 set off a chain reaction resulting in a definite upswing in my life. The ability to stay in tune with myself and my decision-making habits allows me to get and stay on track through life’s challenges. Shortly after the eviction, I was able to sell the house that held such a burden in my life. Within a year, I had been promoted multiple times at work which allowed me to begin paying down debts I had incurred and built up savings for the first time. At times, I would be challenged with a new obstacle that had the potential to derail my progress. With newfound attention to making positive life choices, I was able to prevent these molehills from becoming mountains. To this day, I continue to appreciate and respect the choices I make in life.
The understanding that each decision we make has the potential to alter the course of our lives is both empowering and terrifying. We can control our thoughts and actions, but not those of others. However, we do have the ability to control how we respond to the thoughts and actions of others.
Major crossroads in your life intermingle with tiny choices that seem meaningless. Each one triggers some series of outcomes, as the saying goes, “everything happens for a reason.” As you begin to make judgments more actively and mindfully, you may notice that following your gut reactions often come with the most significant outcomes. The most notable decisions happen in the blink of an eye. For this reason, I strongly recommend finding and following your intuition. When we second guess ourselves, that hesitation triggers a defense mechanism in the brain making it less likely for us to move forward fearing unknown risks.
Occasionally, the Universe will send us signs or, even, forcibly push us out of the way to wake us up. The concept of synchronicity and the idea that we are living in a computer-based generation are gaining steam in the scientific community. Patterns, numbers, and familiar terms appearing on your path through life deserve your attention and serve as the guide to the best direction. My husband and I have a particular number that shows up frequently in our lives, each time we notice it everything related to the situation always goes smoothly. These meaningful coincidences have made an impact on how we take in our surroundings and experience life as a whole.
We do not know for sure what we will miss by not doing something or by getting held up. Think about near miss death situations where the person was bumped and slowed down, or heard a noise and looked back and just like that escaped a horrible demise. For all you know, that person who cut you off may have slowed you down just enough not to be hit by another driver up ahead. Whatever the situation, whatever happens, it could merely be a cosmic lineup, a meaningful coincidence, a synchronicity event.
As I Go Forward
Starting at this very moment, you have the ability to change the course of your life. It starts with making the intentional decision to do so. Mistakes become the most valuable lessons along this new journey. Not to mention, the best part is you get thousands of do-overs each day!
A considerable part of what Dirty Windshield founded itself upon was the idea of Becoming Better Every Day. Mindful decision making is strictly a conscious choice replacing a subconscious choice. Humans are creatures of habit, so being aware continually will continually challenge me, just like it would anyone else. Commonly, we are too hard on ourselves; critical of the minor details which honestly do not matter looking at the big picture. Of course, there will be slip-ups; it is just part of the journey.
I commit to making decisions actively and intuitively, in line with my family and I’s best interests.
Dirty Windshield challenges you to Become Better Every Day! We hope that our story will help others understand the power we hold as humans. The conscious mind is powerful when put into action. Our thoughts are important, but it is our actions that set us apart from the crowd. Dirty Windshield’s purpose is to help others better themselves, their lives, and find & follow their passions.
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