New Beginnings: Awaken the Giant Within
Around New Year’s Day is a time when many people adopt “resolutions” and promise to themselves that they will start a new beginning in one or more areas of their lives. These New Year’s resolutions set goals to be achieved over the course of the new year; goals can alternatively be termed decisions to change. Indeed, a “resolution” can be defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something”.
Many psychological and personal development authors have written and spoken about the power of decisions to change people’s lives. Many people settle for being less than they can be, but in the moment of decision, the decision to change, the situation is altered.
Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker, calls decisions “the pathway to power”, and says, “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped” because the predecessor to all action is decision. Yet many people might resist hearing this, perhaps being influenced by events in the past where they promised to change and felt full of zeal, only to break their promise when their feelings changed. But this merely raises the question—what, exactly, is a decision? A decision is not a preference; if something is adopted as a plan when things seem easy, or at a time of year when it is customary to promise change, but it is abandoned when some form of hard work is required—or if it is just something that the person would like, but they have no plan and do not commit to immediate action, then that is only a preference, not a decision. Tony Robbins stresses this point, saying that making a decision means “cutting off any other possibility” in your mind—if you “decide” to do something, but you anticipate failure, then you are setting yourself up for failure, and have not made a true decision. A real decision requires action to take place to make it real. If no new action is put in place, no decision has actually been made. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible in your execution of your plans as you discover what works and what doesn’t work, but it does mean that every true decision ignites action; decisions make things happen.
Mr. Robbins outlines a four-step process that making decisions creates. Step 1: clearly decide what you want and what you do not want. Step 2: take action—don’t doubt yourself. Step 3: notice what works and what doesn’t work. Step 4: make changes based on what you’ve learned. Basically, as long as you make decisions that spark action, you’ve started a learning process that will take you closer to your goals.
In the CD audiobook adaption of his work, Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins provides examples of different individuals who accomplished great things after becoming committed to take action to manifest their decision. From my own reading I provide the following example: there was once a woman named Becky who was in severe financial difficulties, living beyond her means and getting into debt, who finally decided that she couldn’t continue the way she was living, and needed change.
So she took Step 1—and clearly decided that she needed to get out of debt. Step 2, she took action. She decided that if she could save money she could get out of debt, and that she could save money by cooking home-made food instead of ordering take-out. (Or, as they say in her native Britain, “take away”.) Step 3 she noticed whether or not her plan was working. Unfortunately, her first plan was not successful.
Because she didn’t have enough pots and pans or other cooking supplies, buying these supplies cost her more money than she anticipated, and since she had little experience cooking, she often ended up burning the food. But that wasn’t the end, it merely led to Step 4—make changes based on what you’ve learned. Instead of trying to cut back on her expenses, she decided to try to make more money.
The initial problem was that even though she had a job, it wasn’t fulfilling for her, and she wasn’t very good at it. She worked as a financial consultant, but often found herself bogged down by the complex financial terminology used by her colleagues, a situation that she tried to cope with by skipping out of work whenever she felt like she could get away with it. But then she realized that the public didn’t like trying to unravel economic jargon either, and that if she learned to explain things in a more user-friendly way she could get promoted and earn more money—and this is indeed exactly what happened.
It didn’t matter in the end that her first plan didn’t work—it mattered that she was committed to her decision, and led by that commitment into action. This is a point that Tony Robbins emphasizes, that people shouldn’t be afraid of making decisions—rather they should make decisions all the time and constantly strive to learn from them.
And that’s good advice to follow, no matter what time of year it is.
Blog posts are written by Shore House members and staff.