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Discipline

Dramatic Decisions Are Easy. Are You Good at the Small Ones?

In the movie, The Right Stuff, astronaut John Glenn is faced with a difficult decision. After Glenn has spent hours strapped up inside the space shuttle, the Vice President himself is heading over to Glenn’s house for a photo opportunity with the astronaut’s family. Glenn’s wife, who has a speech impediment, is terrified of the meeting and the inevitable embarrassment of speaking poorly in front of dozens of reporters and national TV cameras.

Glenn decides to make the potentially career-ending move of telling the Vice President to turn around and go somewhere else.

I can remember hearing this story in our small group for married couples. We all commended Glenn for his commitment to his wife.

But as crazy as it sounds, I don’t think that Glenn’s decision was really that big of a deal.

Tough Decisions?

Would you stare down a grizzly bear to protect your child? Would you take a bullet for your spouse? Would you give up your home, your career, and all your belongings if that’s what it took to save your family?

As extremely gut-wrenching as those decisions are, I’d bet you would say yes. They’re really not hard calls to make.

The tough decisions? Those are the day-to-day activities: the tiny, minuscule choices. Spending time with the kids tonight or working late – again. Going out on that date night or sitting in the easy chair and channel flipping.

The grizzly bear scenarios are right there in front of your face. You know you have to choose, and it’s as if someone screams at you, “Choose your life or your kid’s life!”

Not so with the smaller decisions. These don’t pop up on our radar screen as crucial decisions, so we let our guard down. And to be honest, each individual decision by itself isn’t that important. But over time, they form a pattern.

For professional musicians, which practice session was the most important? For Olympic athletes, which workout was the most important? No session alone was crucial – but together, they were absolutely necessary.

These small sessions need to be scheduled. We need to understand the importance of these activities and make time for them.

If you don’t schedule date nights, they won’t happen.
If you don’t schedule family outings, they won’t happen.
If you don’t schedule devotional time with the Lord, it won’t happen.

Six Steps to Small Decisions

I’m not here to say I’m perfect. But as I’ve thought about how I can intentionally schedule these below-the-radar choices, here’s the plan:

  1. Schedule your time to make sure that everything is realistic. It does you no good to pencil in time for family if you’ve scheduled 40 hours of activity into a 24-hour day.
  2. Evaluate in the moment and don’t panic if an emergency pops up and you have to postpone a session of family time, exercise, date night, etc.
  3. Set a limit of postponements before you will re-evaluate your commitment to making time for these things. Are you serious – really serious?
  4. Evaluate regularly if you’re working to the spirit of your goal and not just to the letter.  In other words, spending time with your wife while thinking only about work isn’t really spending time with your wife.
  5. Evaluate regularly if there’s a better way to your goal. Think of what you’re doing and look for areas of improvement or areas that could be cut without mattering.
  6. Seek feedback from those you trust.

Is there a particular area of your life that flies below the radar?
Do you have any other strategies for scheduling in these sessions?

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