Of the millions of decisions our brains make every day, a fair amount are conscious and within our control. Are you paying attention to the power of micro-decisions, or are you just running on auto-pilot?
I recently came across a powerful word: accretion (credit: Erik Kruger) The dictionary will tell you that accretion is used to express gradual growth or accumulation. For example, accretion is happening out there in our galaxy right now as a fragment of rock is fusing with another piece of matter, and then another, until over millions of years the fragment evolves into a star or a planet. It’s a process of accretion.
Of course, I couldn’t resist turning this into an analogy that we can relate to here on planet earth. It got me thinking that much like gathering little pieces of matter or growing over time, the choices we make for ourselves each day, also accumulate over time – every decision we ever make has the power to shape and mould our lives. Quite frankly, being able to make our own decisions is an incredible privilege; it means that we are able to control the moment-by-moment commitments that we make. To turn left or right. To say yes, or to say no. To be nice, or to be nasty.
Since we have all these wonderful choices to make all the time, then why is it that we so often only look back on the massive decisions we have made? Big resolutions might feel like they have a more immediate impact, but the accretion of small, detailed choices eventually adds up and influences the person we become.
I feel that the reason why some people are successful or manage to attain their goals, is because they make the right small decisions. From choosing to surrounding ourselves with really smart people to getting the right advice, or to achieving everything from our fitness targets to our business ambitions and personal goals. It’s all these little choices we make that are life-changers, each having a varying degree of impact and affecting our individual growth.
It might seem unusual, but I personally have made the choice to surround myself with four different coaches whom I consult on a regular basis. They each have their own expertise and allow me to unpack my thinking for them so that they can give me their own perspectives and insights. This helps me make the best micro-choices that align with my ambitions, each and every day.
By practicing accretion, I have noticed that small decisions can have high-impact outcomes. To begin with, you have the choice to set brave goals and to think bigger. To get to that goal, every small decision counts – down to what you have for breakfast. As the saying goes, “Just because there is dessert, doesn’t mean you have to eat it”. Make the small choices that help you on your long-term trajectory count, even if that means delayed gratification or having to play the long game.
At the end of the day, as your own metaphorical star accumulates the pieces that you gather along your path – the small pieces that define who you are – remember that you are in control. By taking responsibility for every decision you make, you can become the architect of your life. So if you are feeling down, or feeling like things aren’t going your way, tap into your inner source of empowerment: the incredible privilege of choice.