Archive for August 2013

Avoid Making Bad Decisions

Every one of us has a closet full of bad decisions. Maybe we purchased something when we shouldn’t have, or told someone “yes” when we should have said “no”. Each decision sends us drifting down a path, sometimes towards a destination we don’t like.

So how do we steer ourselves toward where we really want to go? Well, the first question that needs to be answered is “Where do you want to go?”

Deciding what you value

Many choices are based on what’s comfortable and easy, whether or not they align with what we want. It’s easier to say “yes” than it is to tell someone “no”. It’s easier (in the short term) to make a purchase on credit than it is to save up for the thing we want. But those easy decisions often lack purpose. They’re only made to get them out of the way, to check a box.

One of the things I help my life coaching clients with is figuring out a basis for their decision making. I ask them to keep a list of the things they value, not physical things, although that might be the case for some, but concepts like family, honesty, and financial freedom

Once we know what we want, what we value, our decisions start getting better.

This or that?

Here’s a good example: You have the opportunity to start a new job. It’s a lot more money than your current job, but it means spending a significant amount of time traveling away from your family. If you know, in concrete terms, that you value time with your family more than you value money, that should help determine the choice you make.

Another: You know that you value honesty and discretion, but you’re spending a lot of time and effort on building a friendship with someone who gossips and lies. It’s making you miserable. Why not focus on hanging around someone who shares similar values?

In my own life, I’ve found that when I’m more purposeful with my decisions, I’m happier with the outcomes. When a choice presents itself, I try to remember what is important to me and make the choice based on that. It results in a lot less stress and me feeling like I’m closer to where I want to be. And even if the decision turns out poorly, it’s a lot easier to live with knowing that I made it based on what I value.

The Secret to Lasting Relationships

We meet a lot of people during our lives. Some stick with us, and others seem to just drift through. A recent event inspired me to reflect on the successful relationships in my life and got me asking “What made them work? What sets apart the relationships that lasted from the ones that faded away?”

A Milestone

I recently marked my 25th year as a practicing CPA. To celebrate, my staff and I put together a party and invited our clients to attend. It turned out well and everyone seemed to have a good time.

I was happy to be able to serve my friends and clients food from my farm. And I think they liked it too. We went through over 140 pounds of meat and 9 gallons of potato salad. I’m grateful for everyone who came and everyone who’s made my practice what it is over the last 25 years.

After the party, I received several thank you cards, many of them from my oldest clients. It felt good to read those notes and it got me thinking about what kept those long-term relationships alive and healthy.

A Small Difference

Looking through the cards, it clicked. Things like this supported those relationships, mutual, small gestures and communication that reminded the other person that someone cared about them.

We often assume that the people in our lives know that we care about them or that we’re thinking of them. We assume that they know they are important to us so we don’t work at reminding them.

But think about how much it affects you when your spouse does or says something to remind you that they love you, or how they react when you do the same. Think of how you feel when you get a thank you card out of the blue. It makes you feel important and cared for. It strengthens the relationship between you and the other person.

None of these things are grand gestures that require a lot of money or time. They can be as simple as a phone call to check up on someone, but these small things go a long way toward building long-term relationships.

Ultimately, that’s why I think many of the relationships in my life have lasted. Among my clients, friends, and family, we each worked at making sure the other person knew how much they mattered and it worked like glue to hold us together.