How to Make Better Decisions in the 2020s Based on Last Decade's Decisions

Paige Oldham
Techniques to make better decisions

It’s amazing to think that the iPhone was first released a little more than 10 years ago, yet it has transformed our lives in that short period of time. Reflect back. How else has your life changed in the past 10 years?  How have mistakes and successes transformed you?

We all make mistakes (and probably made quite a few over the past decade), but we can choose how they affect us.  For many, mistakes are an opportunity to berate ourselves for being so stupid.  The negative self-talk starts stirring in our mind the minute we deviate from our version of the elusive “perfect.”  As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?” 

Mistakes and the dreaded “failure” are not curses.  They are only negative if you choose to make up negative stories around them. You have the ability to choose the kind of stories you tell yourself about everything that happens to you.

Mistakes and failures are simply opportunities for learning and growth. From the outcome you experienced, you learned what doesn’t work. The big question is: What are you going to do about it?  Examine what caused the mistake and its outcomes to determine a different course of action in similar situations going forward.  It’s an experiment to see what works and what doesn’t.  

Mistakes and failures are simply experiments that didn’t give you the results you expected. Drop the expectations and replace them with curiosity. Anything can happen. The key is to accept whatever happens and learn from the outcomes.

The Art of Noticing

In 2010, what choices did you make that would put you on a trajectory to be the person you are today?  How many of those choices were conscious and intentional versus subconscious?  Did you become the person you envisioned or did you envision anything back then?

It’s 2020. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Who will you be in 2030 if you keep doing what you’ve always done?  
  • Who do you want to be?  
  • How do you want your life to be?  
  • How can you learn from the mistakes of the past to create a better life for yourself?

The practice of mindfulness can be very powerful in helping you answer these questions. It seems that mindfulness has become the latest “thing” that everyone is doing. In truth, it’s been around forever.  

Mindfulness is simply noticing without judgment.

There are so many things to distract us (like iPhones with their gazillion apps) that slowing down to notice things is a novelty. Now there are literally hundreds of apps to help us to be mindful. How ironic is that?! While these apps can help us to notice, they’re not much help with dropping the judgment. Some run counter to this quest by putting what you notice out there for others to rate and comment on, which are forms of judgment.

Noticing without judgment is similar to acting without expectations. In both cases, the idea is to see things simply as they are without making up stories about them. It’s human nature to make up stories about everything and then believe those made-up stories. Those stories become our beliefs. Then we align our thoughts with those beliefs and act on our thoughts. At some point, we lose sight of what the truth once was — what we initially observed without the stories.

Change your beliefs, change your life.

As you go through your days, find times to pause and notice how your day is going. What choices can you make at that moment to get things back on track? What can you do to keep yourself moving toward the you that you want to be in 2030?

Acceptance Is Key

Some days will be better than others. Acceptance of all that happens will allow you to keep progressing.  Accept your mistakes and learn from them. Accept yourself as you are right now, knowing that you’re evolving and changing every day.  

Acceptance doesn’t mean that you become complacent. It’s accepting things as they are and asking, “What am I going to do about it?”

The opposite of acceptance is resistance.  And you know the saying:  What you resist persists.

If you’re filled with negative emotions that you resist by trying to stuff them down, pretending they don’t exist, you know that one day they’ll explode when you least want them to. If you accept the presence of the negative emotions and get curious with them, they tend to dissipate.

The Power of Gratitude

Another powerful tool to help you create a better life is gratitude. Humans tend to focus on the negative in any situation. Begin the practice of consciously noticing the positive. By doing this each day, especially if you write out your gratitude list, you begin to rewire your brain to notice the positive. If you know you’re going to sit down every day and write down 10 unique things you’re grateful for, your mind will be searching for those things throughout your day.

Regularly practicing gratitude can slowly transform feelings of depression to hopefulness and happiness. Consciously noticing the good, regardless of the situation, creates hope for more positive things.

A New You

To improve the likelihood that you become the person you want to be in 2030, practice the simple practices of mindfulness, acceptance, and gratitude each day.  Noticing without judgment. Accepting whatever is and learning from whatever was. Being grateful for whatever arises because it’s an opportunity for growth and joy.

Use what you learn from these practices each day to make new choices tomorrow. The baby steps that you take each day add up quickly, resulting in changes that you didn’t think you were capable of.

The versions and attributions of the quote vary, but the concept holds true, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.” New Year’s resolutions that push for fast change usually fall flat. Making conscious choices each day to follow new habits and practices can change your life.

Feel like you need some guidance in order to help you achieve your goals? Check out our list of the best online therapy services to find a counselor that can help you on your way. 

Paige Oldham
Paige Oldham spent years defining herself as a financial executive in corporate America. Now she follows her heart and has expanded her joy as a wife, mother, writer, mindfulness expert, and yogini in the mountains outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Nurturing positivity through mindfulness, she is living her dream life. You can read more of her ideas for increasing your own happiness and success at Simple Mindfulness.