What is a Decisive Point?
Think about a goal that you have pursued in the past. It could have been a personal endeavor to live a healthier lifestyle, a commitment to learn a new hobby, or a professional goal of career advancement. Regardless of what your goal was, you experienced several ‘defeats’, as well as triumphs along the way.
Each small victory was cause for celebration. The little ‘wins’ helped bring a vision closer to reality. But, what about the moments of despair? What happened then? How did you feel? Most importantly, what did you do? It’s in these moments of both anguish and success that you found yourself at a decisive point.
A decisive point is that moment when you realize that the next decision you make is incredibly important as it relates to a goal you have set forth. To be decisive means to go forth without hesitation. You don’t waver or falter; you make up your mind and press on. While on the journey to attaining your goals, being fearless is important to an extent. Because as soon as you hesitate, you begin to doubt. When doubt creeps in, along with it comes uncertainty. The uncertainty leads to frustration, and the frustration drains your motivation to move forward.
An example of a decisive point could be musician. After two weeks of attempting to master a series of notes on the piano, the pianist becomes frustrated that he or she can’t piece it together just quite right. Before the doubt creeps in, the pianist has a decision to make, and this exact moment is a decisive point in the journey towards becoming a masterful artist. Does the pianist choose to walk away and call it quits, or does the pianist continue to say, ‘just one more’ until the fingers stroke the keys and result in the melody the artist has been wanting to hear?
It could be that moment when you’ve been working out consistently for a month and eating healthy. Suddenly, the results don’t show despite the gains you’ve made. Your goal is still within reach, but you’ve hit a roadblock. Turn back to your old lifestyle or break down the barriers in your way?
What about at work? You’ve been busting your tail to make things click and come together. People doubt your abilities, but you know that you have it in you to succeed. The pressure has been building against the dam and you’re pushing and pushing but the gates won’t seem to break. This is a decisive point. Do you push once more, perhaps breaking the wall, or do you throw in the towel? Do the people around you pull you away not realizing just how far you’ve come and how close you are?
As the goal you’re after comes closer into view, these decisive points don’t become any easier. They become more challenging because more is on the line. As you rise to the top, and the end comes near, the pressure mounts as you finally get to where it is you’ve been trying to get.
Because what you’re after is attainable. And what you’re after is something that matters.
2 Reasons a Decisive Point is Important
Reaching a decisive point – in life, your career, your hobby – is no small feat. In many respects, it means that you’ve put forth a tremendous amount of hard work, displayed a helluva lot of persistence, and fought time and time again.
What does this mean? Why is reaching one of these moments critical to your long-term success? In the military, it’s important because of two reasons.
- Reaching a decisive point means that your goal is attainable
- Reaching a decisive point means that your goal matters
When something is attainable, it means that it is within reach. It may be today, it could be tomorrow, or it could possibly be months down the road. However, choosing to move forward in these moments is what will place you on a trajectory that brings the goal closer, or on a path in which you turn your back to something that you’ve invested so much time, effort, and energy.
It’s also important to understand that the goal you are pursuing matters. Taking it a step further, understanding why it matters will help put everything into perspective. Perhaps the reason is personal and it’s something that you’ve challenged yourself with. Or, is it that someone else set forth an expectation and you’re making progress towards that goal.
So, the next step in this process is to decide. You can decide to throw in the towel, or you can decide to continue moving forward in the face of adversity. When you choose to move forward it says to yourself and those around you, “I’m all in,” and, with that, comes a commitment.
Committing to Something More
Reaching a decisive point – and consequently moving forward – will be one of the markers in your journey that you will reflect on and remember when the time has come to pass. However, to get from one decisive point to the next, or even your end goal, it requires you to commit yourself. This isn’t to say that you haven’t been committed from the get-go, it’s just a confirmation that you haven’t yet accomplished what you set out to accomplish.
In my personal life, I reflect on a severe skiing accident that resulted in a major knee surgery and had me side-lined for several months. That accident happened in December of 2015. In August of 2016 I was slated to compete in my first Ironman Triathlon – a 140.6 mile race that combines swimming, cycling, and running. I’ll never forget going into surgery, looking at the surgeon, and asking, “How soon will I be able to run, and will I be able to compete?”
Coming out of surgery I knew the journey to the Ironman was going to be incredibly different than what I had pictured. Now I had physical therapy to overcome, consistent knee pains to battle, and expectations that I needed to reframe. At three months I was cycling and slowly jogging. At 4.5 months, the intensity of my workouts increased. At 6 months I competed in a Half-Ironman (70.3 miles). Then, I had a decision to make, did I move forward with the original race I had planned in August, or did I need to postpone until an October race?
Although I had made tremendous progress, my body was still recovering. For me to have raced Ironman Boulder in August would have been a disaster. I literally logged thousands of miles of training. Because of the injury, I endured setbacks along the way. So, I had to reframe my expectations for what achieving my goal looked like. It didn’t mean I wasn’t busting my ass in training. It didn’t mean that I lacked motivation, or skill, or ability. It had everything to do with the fact that I wasn’t going to haphazardly pursue a goal and perform poorly just to say I reached my goal. In the end, it payed dividends that I couldn’t before imagined, and it reminded me that ‘Anything is Possible‘.
Such is the case with your life. With the commitment to move forward at these critical moments, you will often have to reframe the expectations. Why? Because during the process in getting to where you are today, you have learned. Because of that learning you have grown. And, because of that growth you can now better strategize. To get so far and to give up on yourself, or for others to give up on you, won’t make it any easier for you, or those around you, when you don’t keep moving forward.
It’s impossible to take a generalized approach when you begin any journey towards something greater. That mindset will create restrictions, never allowing for any flexibility, and ultimately, learning. This is especially unknown when there are so many unknown variables. The only thing you can do is prepare to adapt, reframe expectations, and keep moving forward.
Think. Commit. Do.
Remember what’s important. Remind yourself that these moments are bringing you closer to something that is attainable and that matters. Commit yourself to it. All the while, never wavering from the values and beliefs that you choose to live by.
It is possible. Today is possible.