My best friend often quotes her father’s saying “Common sense ain’t common.” At the age of 40, I have definitely come to agree! A part of what is considered good common sense is really the ability to make good decisions. Making good decisions is a skill, and like any skill it has to be learned.
Every person is not raised in an environment where good decision making is taught or is the norm. Working with women who are in generational poverty you can clearly see the pattern of bad decision making throughout a lifetime. Now let me tell you the scary part. Most (not all) of them have absolutely, positively, no idea that they make bad decisions. Many of the women I work with have a perception that life just happens to you. Even down to having children.
Oh yes, I’m going there. This subject gets a lot of attention and judgment when it comes to poverty. I am not saying it from a place of judgment, actually I have been there myself. Part of my purpose is to share what I have learned with other women who are going through similar trials. Having multiple unplanned pregnancies is a complicated situation and there are many factors involved, and one of them is a lack of good decision making. Period. If you are living in poverty, no high school diploma or low education rate, no income or low wages, homeless or at risk of being homeless, no transportation, and you are struggling to provide for the child/children you already have, it is NOT a good decision to become pregnant and have more children at THIS time in your life. Again, this is not in judgment, on the contrary it is in love. Your children deserve to be raised in an environment where they are provided for, and if you are in poverty you are not in a position to provide for your children. The children you already have, well they are already here and let’s do the best we can for them. But do not add more to the mix. You are doing a disservice to your children and to yourself. The DECISION is yours to make.
What I am trying to show my clients as a Coach is that life doesn’t just happen to you. You have a large degree of control. Now let me be clear. I am not saying that we have complete control over our lives. Some things do happen that are beyond our control – the family we are born into, parental abuse, accidents, some diseases, etc. Only God has ALL control. However, what I am saying is that God gave us a measure of control and how we use it determines a large part of our outcome. How do we utilize this control? By our decisions in life.
I have not always made good decisions. I have made many mistakes, and a lot of them were due to poor choices. Many of my mistakes were also about a lack of knowledge. I didn’t always know I was making a bad decision – sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. Over the years I have learned to make better decisions. I learned from having good examples in my family, my previous church family, friends, and some public figures that I admire. I also learned to make good decisions by developing a relationship with God and reading his Word.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
Here are a few tips for my ladies in the fire who are learning to make good decisions:
1. The first step is coming into the awareness there is such a thing as “making good decisions.” This may sound silly, but remember, everyone doesn’t know what you know. Some people feel they have no control over their lives and have never been introduced to the concept of good decision making.
2. The second step is to look at your life and be honest about the fact that where you are is a direct result of the decisions you have made. This is not about self-hate, blame, coming down on yourself, or beating yourself up. It is about becoming self-aware. It is similar to the concept of a substance abuser. They cannot seek help and truly benefit from it until they admit they have a problem.
3. The third step is to identify your values. Once you clearly identify what is important to you, it will help you to make choices accordingly. For example, if honesty is a value that is important to you, then you will think about it when an opportunity arises where you have a choice between telling a lie or the truth.
4. The fourth step is to learn how to make good decisions. Here are some ways to learn:
- Identify positive examples – both in real life and public figures.
- Read motivational books – “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie (this is one of my favorites), and “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer. Actually anything by Joyce Meyer is good, her gift is in the power of thoughts, making good decisions, and changing your life.
- Seek wise counsel – talk to productive members in your family (notice I said PRODUCTIVE members of your family), your pastor, a teacher or professor in school, a mentor, etc.
- Have an accountability partner – this speaks to the ability to make good decisions when choosing friends. Find a friend that will hold you accountable in making positive choices.
- Learn delayed gratification – learn to think long term. Short term pleasure produces a life time of pain. Financial, sex, health, physical, and so on. Maturity should teach you that fast or inappropriate gratification in these areas does not produce positive results.
Some problems and social issues may not start off your fault, but after a while it becomes your fault. Poverty is a good example of this. It isn’t your fault if your mother had multiple children by multiple men, had no education, depended on public assistance for a lifetime, and did not equip you with the tools needed for a successful life. So, now if you are doing the same thing, you have become a product of your environment. It didn’t start off your fault, but now with each passing day it has become your fault. You are choosing to continue the cycle, even if you are not consciously aware of it. After a while no one is going to care that it didn’t start off your fault. Once you start having children and people see that you are not providing a good life for them, they are only going to see you now as the adult…..who is making BAD DECISIONS. It is up to you to change. You have to take the initiative. One of the first steps to making a positive change in your life, is learning how to MAKE GOOD DECISIONS.