Make a Decision
“Life is managed, not cured.” Dr. Phil
To get where you want to go in life, you have to make a decision. That decision will be something like, if I want to improve my situation I must change ___________.
You and I are our own life managers, and hopefully, your long-term objective is to actively manage your life in such a way that it brings about great results. You, apart from your relationship to God, are the most essential resource for making your life work. You and you alone are responsible for running your own race.
The Buck Stops Here
One of the most important things that you can do to reach your goals in life is to adopt President Harry Truman’s famous line, “The Buck Stops Here!” Truman was a no-nonsense man, when he made up his mind on something, there was no turning back. He refused to gaze into the mirror of self-doubt or second-guessing. He was a leader who made tough decisions and stuck by them.
One of his toughest decisions was to use the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the Second World War. By his own admission, this was the most difficult decision of his life. Truman had served as a Battery Commander in the Field Artillery in WWI and understood the devastation that artillery could cause.
When he made the decision to drop the most destructive weapon ever unleashed on mankind, he weighed the cost of continuing a long and costly war with Japan or using overwhelming force to bring about the end of WWII.
He counted the cost, made the decision and never went back on his decision.
Agree or disagree with Truman’s decision, his “The buck stops here,” is an attitude you and I have to have to experience the life we want to experience.
This attitude means that I am accepting responsibility for my past. It also says that I am taking responsibility for my future, my success in life.
After spending much of my adult life as a professional counselor, I know that some you reading this have experienced horrible traumas such as sexual abuse, accidents, and war. And while many of these traumas have a life-long impact, you can still have significant choices in the outcomes.
We cannot always control what other’s do to us, but we can control how we will deal with it. You can choose to be a life-long victim, and that will be your life story. Or, you can choose to move from being a victim to becoming a survivor to ultimately becoming an overcomer. Being an overcomer does not imply that you will never have any more issue to deal with as a result of some of the trauma in your life, it means that you refuse to let them control your life. It says you refused to be defined by your diagnosis.
Jerry’s PTSD Story
Last year, while I was deployed to Puerto Rico and a Stress Counselor for FEMA employees, I met Jerry (not his real name). Jerry was working as a truck driver delivering commodities to some of the hardest hit communities in Puerto Rico after the hurricanes of 2017.
I first heard about Jerry from come colleagues who work for an agency that was also deployed to Puerto Rico, and the hearsay was that there was a Viet Nam Vet who had PTSD and was probably out of control, or close to it. They wanted to know if I could check on him.
My third night, in Puerto Rico, I hung around the dining room of T.S. Kennedy and met up with Jerry and his driving buddy Tom. I introduced myself as the Stress Counselor for FEMA Employees, and he asked if I was there to check him out. I said yes I was.
He was a little guarded at first, but after noticing some familiar jargon, he asked if I was a vet and if I was what branch and what did I do. I told him that I was a retired Army Chaplain and immediately his guard went down.
After a few minutes of sharing some stories, I asked how his “pop-ups” were doing. “Pop-ups” is a term some vets use for flashbacks. He responded, “I feel like I am playing “Whack a Mole,” but thanks to medication, prayer, Bible reading, God’s grace, and other tools in my toolbox, I am winning the game.”
Needless to say, as a people helper, I was relieved to hear those words.
Over the next couple of meals that we shared he told me a little more about some of the experiences that were at the root of his PTSD, and while he is drawing 100% disability from the VA, he is able to work.
Without going into any detail, Jerry’s story was not unlike some of the horror stories that I have heard from fellow vets, law enforcement and other men and women who have experienced the moral injury of some type of personal trauma. The incredible thing about Jerry is that he has refused to be sidelined by this diagnosis.
One night over some pretty stout coffee he told me something like this. “For years I choose to live a disordered life, I played the hand that I was 100% service connected Disabled Vet, which I am. As a result, I became lazy and more depressed then one day it hit me. I do have PTSD, but that diagnosis does not determine how I will live my life.
Something happened when I made that decision. All of a sudden, therapy and the other treatments that I was receiving from the Veteran’s Administration began to work; also, the doctors changed my medication, and I went into a Vocational Rehabilitation program and eventually got my CDL (Commercial Driver’s License).”
I asked him about what life was like before he made the decision to move on to manage his PTSD. He chuckled and said before I started making arrangements to get better I just slept, stayed legally drugged up and didn’t do a whole lot of anything. But look at me today, I still have PTSD, but I am managing it. Because I am handling it, I am spending my time in Puerto Rico getting things like water, food, medicine, and supplies to our friends and fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.
We had a couple of more opportunities to visit before I headed back to the Mainland.
What was my take away from Jerry?
I think my best take away from my time with Jerry was the fact that along the way he’d learned the truth: I am responsible for my past and my future.
You see, while Jerry had little or no control over what happened in Viet Nam all those many years ago, he came to the realization that if he didn’t engage in life, he would spend his life on the sideline.
In my final conversation with him, he told me with a great deal of appropriate pride that he was helping save lives by delivering life-sustaining goods to the survivors of the Hurricane Maria, he went on to say something like, “I am glad I made a choice to learn how to manage myself so that I could help others.
Jerry, through his own, personal choices, plus his faith in God helped him move out of self-pity into a person whose vocation and life purpose is to help others.
What about you?
If you are not where you want to be in life, it is entirely on you. Why our culture likes to play the blame game, people who are actively engaging in life, and are overcoming past setbacks are those who realize that I am the one responsible for where I am and where I am headed while on this earth.
Until we choose to make that decision that we are going to embrace the journey that God has for us, there will be no power to move forward.
By taking responsibility for our life, we have hope.
Here is an excellent thought from Andy Andrews book: The Seven Decisions (which I highly recommend).
From this moment forward, I will accept responsibility for my past. I understand the beginning of wisdom is to take responsibility for my own problems and that by taking responsibility for my history, I free myself to move into a bigger, brighter future of my own choosing.
Never again will blame my parents, spouse, boss, employees, or team members for my present situation. Neither my education nor lack of one, my genetics, past traumas, or circumstantial ebbs and flows of everyday life will negatively impact my future. If I allow myself to blame these uncontrollable forces for my lack of success, I will be forever caught in a web of the past. I will look toward the future.
The buck stops here. I accept responsibility for my past. I am responsible for my future, my success, and my legacy.
You are where you are today-mentally, spiritually, emotionally, financially and physically because of the decisions you have made. If you are unsatisfied with where you are you have two things going for you. The first is you can choose to change your thinking, and you will change your life. Second, you can ask the Lord to lead you into this exciting phase of your life. It all boils down to managing your thought life.
Here are some things to consider:
To begin with, you need to take a personal inventory of your life.
On a scale of 1 – 10, 1 being utterly miserable and ten being Awesome-rate how you feel you are doing in each of the following categories; physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, professionally, and with your family.
At this point, you might go to a default feeling of being a failure, but don’t let that happen. Instead shift your thoughts to something like this, which comes from Andy Andrews book, The Seven Decisions.
“My mind will not dwell on the problems of the past-
It will live in the solutions of the future!”
When you begin to see your failures as opportunities, you start to free yourself from the fear of failure.
Here is a helpful excerpt from my book The No Fear Entrepreneur.
1. Clarify and Focus on your Why. Why are you on this Earth? What is your mission? What does God want to accomplish in and through your life?
2. Know your dream and trust it!
3. Break your dream, your mission into bite-size portions.
4. Share your dreams and fears with people you trust and love. Patience, Faith, and Friends are our best allies when we choose to follow God’s plan.
5. Move forward.
A Point to Ponder.
“God did not put in me the ability to always make right decisions. He did, however, put in me the ability to make a decision and then make it right.”
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