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How to Look Back And Be Proud: 9 Decisions That Changed My Life

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Originally published on theascent.pub

Making a tough decision is what will make you proud.

Our lives are made up of many events, stories and seasons. With all the busyness that we experience, periods of reflection can bring about fascinating and interwinding ideas and realizations.

I’ve written many times that some of my best thinking happens during a long shower. There’s something that the hot water does to my brain which brings about what I call “Yoda Moments” otherwise known as moments of profound wisdom that explain so much about life.

During one such shower moment, I was reminiscing about what made me proud. It wasn’t any specific event or situation in hindsight that made me proud: it was the decisions I’d made.

These decisions made me proud:

#1 The decision to believe in myself

You wouldn’t think this would be the first one. It sounds like a line out of a Disney movie that you watched when you were six years old. The truth is so many people live their lives and don’t believe in themselves.

Until you make a conscious decision to believe in yourself even if you have no reason to, every other decision I’m about to talk about is meaningless.

You can’t be proud of anything unless you believe in yourself and believe you are worthy of being proud. I lived for many years thinking that I sucked at everything. As I got up on stage as a musician and a DJ in front of audiences, the self-talk was “I’m no good and they are probably laughing at me.”

Because I didn’t believe in myself, my music career fell apart. Many more things in life fell apart after that until I realized that I didn’t believe in myself and that’s why I didn’t believe in anything other than death was a certainty.

The biggest decision I’ve ever made is to believe in myself. Belief in who you are and your abilities is a choice. You’re not born believing in yourself. You have to force yourself to decide that you will, even when there’s no evidence and you’re drowning out at sea in failure, disappointment and frustration.

If all you do is make this one decision, you will have captured the most valuable bit of advice I can give.

#2 The decision to be comfortable with massive change

Change is scary as hell for anybody and it’s full of fear, uncertainty and thoughts of your demise. The decision to be comfortable with massive change helped me in the following ways:

  • It helped me to battle and conquer mental illness
  • It allowed me to overcome a fear of flying
  • It got me on stage doing public speaking
  • It helped me to start writing

There was a period of my life where I’d come home every day from work and be incredibly comfortable. That same feeling was followed by a feeling of regret because I knew I could be doing so much more with my life.

The decision to chase uncomfortable situations could be summarised by saying that whenever I had to make a decision that created some level of fear, I said yes and accepted that it was okay to fail.

Massive change became a game and looking for more and more ways to become uncomfortable was my drug of choice.

Decide to be comfortable with huge changes that scare the crap out of you.

#3 The decision to accept weakness for what it is

We all have a long list of weaknesses and deciding to accept them is powerful.

I’ve found that going one step further and telling people your weaknesses is life changing. Acknowledging that your human and that you too have weaknesses is freeing. It makes you relatable and stops you from being held back by them.

I openly tell people I’m dreadful at maths, spreadsheets, sport and cooking. I suck at them and I have decided to stay that way. You have your own list of weaknesses and acceptance of them will set you free.

#4 The decision to focus and not dabble any longer

I’ve always dabbled in many different activities. Sticking to one thing was too hard for me. It was far easier to try and do everything and keep changing passions as soon as I experienced the tiniest bit of failure.

When I decided to focus on one thing and go as deep as I possibly could, the results changed. I put my head down for five years and focused on mastering social media. Every single day I posted on the same social media site even when I didn’t feel like it. No matter how hard it got, I decided to not change paths or be tempted by something else.

That decision took a long time to see the value in. Certainly, for the first few years, it seemed stupid. There were no results from the fruits of my labor and the meaning behind it all hadn’t been fleshed out yet.

The decision to focus, though, became the basis for everything that would follow and the little success others would perceive that I’ve had online.

#5 The decision to love

Loving another human being is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It took me several decades to understand that until you love yourself, you can’t possibly love another human being.

The decision to love someone was a difficult one. The temptation to keep searching and swiping for the next lover — seeking for perfection that doesn’t exist — is addictive even for those of us (like me) who claim they are disciplined. The decision to love and accept imperfection brought me a sense of fulfillment that is hard to put into words.

How does one describe love like this? I certainly have no idea. The only possible way I could attempt to explain it is that when everything in your life is messed up, the decision to love will make it all worthwhile.

Having that person you love by your side to support you in whatever nonsense, bad luck and tragedy life throws at you makes you very resilient.

#6 The decision to work incredibly hard

This is not about hustle till you die. Working really hard is a decision.

There are so many things you could be doing with your time and indulgences such as Netflix, dinner with friends, games and your phone can distract you from doing the work you know you must do.

The real work that feels rewarding is difficult. You can’t decide to write a book and then expect it will be easy. You have to decide to work hard at it and give up short-term pleasures to achieve it.

This doesn’t mean you never reward yourself with indulgences; it just means that ‘yes’ is not your default answer.

You learn to spread indulgences out so that you can use them as motivation to push through the hours and hours of hard work it takes to complete whatever you deem to be your life’s work.

If I hadn’t decided to work hard, I would never have posted thousands of long-form blog posts online such as this one.

#7 The decision to forgive

One of my proudest moments has been the decision to forgive family and friends even when they don’t deserve it, or I don’t want to.

I realized that we become trapped in our heads by the people we don’t forgive. I realized that often the crimes I was punishing these people for were for rules that I’d created about how life is supposed to be.

When I forgave people (often when they didn’t deserve it), it unlocked a lot of mental energy that was previously unavailable to me which I channeled back into blogging.

The decision to forgive benefits you.

#8 The decision to accept death

This decision was one I was somewhat forced to accept and I’m glad I did. With severe health challenges came the prospect of death.

Death had always been an idea that scared the heck out of me and thinking about it made me sad. When I was forced to contemplate death through my own health challenges, I decided to accept it. By accepting death, time became a completely different measurement.

Instead of mapping out years in advance, I became a lot more focused on the present moment which reduced my anxiety enormously. We all understand consciously that we will die, but we never make a decision to accept it and so we live life like we’re going to live forever.

#9 The decision to tell stories

I’ve hinted about this one already. The decision to become obsessed with sharing stories is something that makes me incredibly proud. Sharing your stories is how you inspire and help people so that they can benefit from your experience.

Storytelling is powerful and it’s the best way to be a teacher and a leader simultaneously.

All of us can teach something to someone else and when you decide to do it, you’ll see what I mean.

It’s scary to tell stories because the good ones require a rawness and a vulnerability that most people are not prepared to show the world. It’s easier to sit on the couch and criticize someone’s stories and experience than it is to get into the baseball stadium and take a few swings at the ball.

When you decide to take off your mask and tell a few stories using a medium of your choice, it brings out your inner teacher. Teaching is rewarding and it has the capacity to affect the lives of others and to outlive your human existence.

#10 The decision to stop comparing

One of the most crippling things I’ve suffered from was spending hours on end looking at other people’s lives online. Everyone seemed to be doing better than me.

The truth is that much of what I was looking at as success was manufactured. There’s no way that so many people could be doing as well as they said they were. Suicide rates, mental health problems, divorce and unemployment should be zero if Instagram posts are anything to go by.

When I took a look behind the scenes at some of the people I was following, I quickly realized they were nothing like their online persona. It was at this point that I decided to stop comparing my life to everyone else’s.

Everyone’s timeline in life is different and there are periods of enormous growth and change, and periods of nothingness.

It’s during periods of nothingness that you have time to reflect and think about what decisions you need to make next. Give up comparing. You’re doing just fine.

About the author


Tim Denning: Viral Blogger - Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship. www.timdenning.net

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