The Power of Pre-Decision - Living Strong Television Network
The Power of Pre-Decision

By Craig Groeschel

It’s safe to say that life is the sum of the decisions we make. Why? Because a successful life is based not on a few big decisions made at a few big moments but on thousands of normal decisions made at thousands of normal moments.

As James Clear says, “Every decision you make is a vote toward who you will become.” That’s why we need to think ahead. That’s why we have to think ahead. Each seemingly inconsequential decision has such value because our decisions are rarely isolated. Have you noticed how good decisions tend to compound in the right direction and bad decisions tend to compound in the wrong direction?

I bet you’ve made a bad decision thinking it was only a one-time thing, then later realized it put you on a slippery path. It felt like that choice gave you permission to keep making the same choice or similarly bad ones. Somehow your bad decision multiplied.

You’ve also made good decisions that seemed isolated, but weren’t at all. Your choice seemed normal, but it was actually enormous. You made the right choice and somehow it had a compound effect. It’s like this: We make our decisions, and then our decisions make us.

The decisions you make today determine the stories you tell tomorrow.

C. S. Lewis, a brilliant Christian thinker and author, wrote about this in his book Mere Christianity: “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

Your decisions determine your direction, and your direction determines your destiny.

So if your life is moving in the direction of your decisions, do you like the direction your decisions are taking you?

Do you feel good about who you are and where you are in life? Do you believe God is pleased with your direction?

If not, it’s time to take back your life.

How?

Through the power of pre-decision.

Decide Now, Do Later

You will decide now what you will do later.

You will decide now what you will do later.

That might sound simplistic, but it is a profound spiritual tool that will help you live in a forward-looking, people-loving, God-glorifying way that leads you to become who you want to become and live the life you want to live.

When you’re in the moment, decision fatigue, fear, and emotions wreak havoc on your ability to make quality decisions, so why wait until you are in the moment to decide?

Ask God to help you decide now what you will do later.

With his help, what you do now can be different from what you did before on your own. We get stuck thinking, I’ve always been this way, always done these things. It is what it is, I am what I am. But God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isa. 43:18–19). We partner with God in the new thing he wants to do in our lives by making new decisions. We make these decisions with God and submit them to him. And what does God do? “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Prov. 16:3).

Look at the heroes of our faith throughout the Bible.

In Genesis 22, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Um, no one is going to decide to do that in the moment. But in the past Abraham had pre-decided, My God is always trustworthy, so whatever he asks me to do, I will obey and honor him.

In Ruth chapter one, we find Ruth and her sister Orpah with their mother-in-law, Naomi. Times are tough and getting worse. Naomi is headed back to her hometown, where her prospects are no better. Naomi tells the girls to stay and make new, better lives for themselves. It is the choice that gives them the best chances, so Orpah agrees to leave. But Ruth had pre-decided to make Naomi her ride-or-die: Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your God will be my God (see Ruth 1:16).

Ruth had pre-decided her commitment to Naomi.

Then there’s Daniel. He and his friends were essentially taken hostage and forced to live in a foreign land. Constant attempts were made to brainwash them into thinking like their captors and eating the food they ate. Yet Daniel believed eating the king’s food would dishonor God. We read in Daniel 1:8, “But Daniel resolved …” We could say, “Daniel pre-decided.” It says, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

Daniel didn’t wait to get to the dining room, where he might have been tempted to go against his values by the perfectly seared tomahawk ribeye and the molten-chocolate lava cake. No, he pre-decided, My values will be determined by God, not others. I will honor my God with my choices.

Daniel pre-decided his commitment to God.

When we decide now what we will do later, with God’s help, we will determine our course of action before the moment of decision. It will look like this: When faced with [situation], I have pre-decided to [action].

For instance: “When I begin to worry, I will read 1 Peter 5:7, pray, and give the burden to God.”

Or “When I’m tempted to make an impulse purchase of more than fifty dollars, I will wait at least three days before I decide whether to buy it.”

Or “When I have written an angry email, I will sleep on it before deciding to hit send.”

Benefits of Making Pre-Decisions

If you were to start applying everything we have discussed so far in making pre-decisions, how might that positively affect your life? Here are three immediate benefits:

Pre-Deciding Reduces the Number of Decisions to Make

Pre-deciding combats feeling overwhelmed by all of our choices, which can lead to decision fatigue.

Steve Jobs famously wore the same outfit every day. Did he just really love his black turtleneck, Levi’s 501s, and New Balance sneakers? No. But he knew that not having to choose his clothes every day freed up energy for more important decisions.

Billionaire hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio wrote a book about pre-deciding. In his book Principles: Life and Work, Dalio writes, “Without principles, we would be forced to react to all the things life throws at us individually, as if we were experiencing each of them for the first time.” He goes on to say: “Using principles is a way of both simplifying and improving your decision making…. [This] will allow you to massively reduce the number of decisions you have to make (I estimate by a factor of something like 100,000) and will lead you to make much better ones.”

Pre-Deciding Reduces the Fear of Deciding Wrong

We often make poor choices because we are driven or stopped by fear. We fear with good reason: because we know our record and how much we have fighting against us in the moment of decision. But pre-deciding reduces our fear. Why? Because we base our decisions on our values. We discover, in advance, what is important to God and decide what is important to us, and we commit to make decisions that honor those values.

In my book Think Ahead, I hope to help you find clarity on what is important to you. When our values are clear, our decisions are easier.

Pre-Deciding Prevents Emotion from Taking Over

We want to live wise, God-honoring lives, but in the moment, our emotions often take over and hijack our integrity. That’s why we need to decide before the moment. That way, our emotions don’t get a vote.

It has been proven that this concept is the key to doing what you want to do. Peter Gollwitzer, a psychology professor at NYU, reviewed ninety-four studies that analyzed the effectiveness of pre-deciding by people who actually implement their best intentions. He concluded that having goals is no guarantee of success, because it doesn’t account for the barriers that will arise along the way. So what did ensure success? Pre-deciding what to do when faced with such barriers.

In another study, 368 people in orthopedic rehabilitation were split into two groups. One group set goals. The other set goals and also pre-decided what they would do to achieve them. Only those in the second group achieved their goals. When we pre-decide, we let logic overrule emotion.

Are you ready to think ahead and take your life back?

Are you ready to choose who you will become?

Let’s do this!

Let’s pre-decide.

________

Think Ahead by Craig GroeschelAdapted from Think Ahead: 7 Decisions You Can Make Today for the God-Honoring Life You Want Tomorrow by Craig Groeschel. Click here to learn more about this book.

Why do we keep making choices we later regret—sometimes even the same bad choices over and over? Drawing on Scripture, story, and cutting-edge research into human behavior, pastor Craig Groeschel reveals the key to making the choices we want to make and experiencing the joy and freedom God has for us.

We all want to make great decisions. So what happens between our good intentions and the choices we actually make in the moment? If only we could make decisions ahead of time rather than when we’re under stress, overwhelmed, or swayed by fear or emotion. In Think Ahead, we learn how to do just that.

Pastor Craig Groeschel knows from personal experience and as a counselor to others what being trapped in a cycle of poor decision-making is like. In Think Ahead, he shares what he has discovered about the power of “pre-deciding.”

With thought-provoking exercises and questions for reflection, this interactive book teaches us that the quality of our decisions determines the quality of our lives. Think Ahead will help you:

  • Understand the science behind your decision-making habits
  • Overcome decision fatigue and debilitating fears
  • Diminish the role of emotions in decision-making
  • See how your small choices shape the kind of person you become
  • Define and put into action the seven life-defining pre-decisions you can make today

Becoming the person you want to be starts before you even make a decision. In Think Ahead, you’ll discover the power of making decisions today to help you live the life you want to have tomorrow.

Think Ahead: 7 Decisions You Can Make Today for the God-Honoring Life You Want Tomorrow is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, the parent company of Bible Gateway.

Craig Groeschel is a New York Times bestselling author and the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church, which created the free YouVersion Bible App and is one of the largest churches in the world. He has written more than fifteen books and hosts the top-ranking Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. He speaks regularly for the Global Leadership Network, which reaches hundreds of thousands of leaders around the world annually. Craig and his wife, Amy, live in Oklahoma. Connect with Craig at craiggroeschel.com.

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