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You’re only one defining decision away from a totally different life

“You’re only one defining decision away from a totally different life“. Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

We’re currently in the midst of making some life decisions that will potentially have long-lasting implications, so the quote above from Mark Batterson really hit home when I read it in The Circle Maker a few weeks ago.

Decisions can be difficult, especially when you know that they are likely life-defining decisions. They aren’t just “should I have peanut butter and jelly or tuna fish for lunch?” decisions but “how do I want to spend the next 10 or 50 years of my life?” type decisions.

However, oftentimes, it’s the “small” daily decisions that add up to a completely different life. For example:

  • Years of daily deciding to stick with your budget instead of swiping a credit card and spending money you don’t have can put you in a position to be debt-free and give generously.
  • Months of eating less and working out more can result in a smaller dress size, more energy, and better health.
  • Years of investing in and nurturing your children on a daily basis can result in mature, well-grounded adults who go on to lead successful lives.

We all so want to make not just good decisions, but the right decisions. Decisions that we won’t regret for years to come. But how can we know what a right decision is?

Since my husband and I are Christians, we pray for clear direction and peace from God when making decisions and we also seek the counsel of those with experience and wisdom. In addition, there are two questions we ask ourselves that serves as a big indicator when making decisions:

  • “Where do we hope to be in five or ten years from now?”
  • “Will this decision move us closer toward our goals or further away from our goals?”

It might seem like overkill to ask yourself these questions with the small decisions, but truthfully, as indicated above, it’s often those seemingly small decisions that define the course for our lives. So don’t overanalyze the peanut butter and jelly decisions, but do know where you’re headed and then ask yourself daily if you’re making decisions that are moving you closer or further from where you want to go.

Those little decisions in the day-to-day, add up to a lifetime of difference. Decide well!

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  • This is so true. We are a combination of the small decisions we continually make, and sometimes we need to choose carefully which small step we will take.

  • I love this! Especially because I have a decision to make that is a relatively small one in the scheme of things, but it involves engaging people. Annnnnd I’m an extreme introvert. As a result, my stomach is turning flip-flops every time I think about it. But it is a decision that I know will move me towards long-term success in life. I desperately needed to hear this message at just this moment–so thank you!

    P.S. By the way, the peanut butter and jelly decisions can be pretty major as well if you’re allergic to bread and peanut butter. 😉 But, of course, I get your point.

  • I agree with this completely! I set a goal this year to run a 5k. I started this year only being able to run for 2 minutes. I am now up to 7 minutes. I realize this probably seems like a joke to lots of people, but it is HUGE for me. It is getting back on the treadmill when I REALLY don’t want to that is helping me see improvement! Great post, Crystal!!

  • I just wanted to comment and say that I really love this quote and post. Very inspiring! As a psychologist, I find a lot of people I see are struggling with identifying where they want to go in life and how to get themselves there. You make a great point that making significant changes is often a matter of deciding to make a change and recommitting to that decision on an ongoing basis in all of the little day-to-day decisions.

  • Victoria says:

    Thanks, right now our family is in the waiting period of decisions, that time when things could go this way or that way but your unsure which way to choose and you really can’t take any path until God open’s the main gate. I like this quote. Especially since you put the ocean behind it. Decisions come in waves one after the other some are small some are large, some just tickle your toes others knock you right off your feet and leave you wet and with the taste of salt in your mouth, but all change the landscape of the shore that is our lives.

    • Jen says:

      This is where our family is right now too! I was just thinking, the waiting on the details and the ultimate decision is the hardest part….BUT also the part where it is all God’s, so we can trust Him with the outcome. I just want to know the outcome so I can start preparing!! ;). In the mean time, even if nothing changes for us, it’s good to have a little shake-up to think about how I am living right now. Just thinking through this big decision has made me realize how there are lots of things that I would change about my life right now if we were to stay here. Thanks Crystal for the reminder to zero in on the little decisions that make up our life as it is right now. I needed that!

  • Amy says:

    This so speaks to my heart Crystal! Thank you! I just was accepted into college after a 14 year absence! I am going for a BA in psychology! I’m so excited, nervous, yet ready to start this new chapter in my life. Thank you for all the encouragement you give us daily Crystal!

  • Megan H. says:

    My husband and I are also in the midst of making life-long, life-impacting decisions. I never thought about the little decisions we make each day, and how they affect those big decisions. I’m not sure we’d be able to proceed if we weren’t intentional about finances, raising our kids, etc. Thanks for this perspective! We’ll pray for you as you and your husband make these decisions.

  • Rose says:

    Thanks Crystal

    I love this post as well.

    I agree with it’s the small things that add up !

    And those 2 qs that you ask each other are great.
    I am also Christian and rely on God for direction, of course we have to do our work on our end .

    Excited to hear what the big decision is that you 2 are making

  • Ingrid says:

    While I generally agree with your statement, sometimes life throws you curveballs which may derail your nuclear family’s 5 or 10 year goals, but serve a greater good (like choosing to care for an ailing parent or another family member who has fallen on hard times). However, I do believe that often those “derailing” choices can be part of God’s greater plan of redemption for you and your family.

    • J says:

      Crystal I couldn’t agree more whole heartedly. We made a decision to move to another state years before we actually did. Took a lot of discipline and focus but it happened and we are so happy now. Could have turned out much differently.

      I look forward to reading about the “decision” you two have decided to make.

  • Lora C says:

    I am so glad that I saw you on the Steve Harvey show!!!!!!!!! You and your site have been such a blessing to me. This post and so many others have been just what I needed at just the right time. This post on decisions–wow!!! Now I am adding the Circle Maker to my reading list. Thanks for all that you do for all of us!!!

  • Hannah says:

    I have been struggling so much lately with feeling like I need to keep up with our peers (who aren’t living in a responsible or intentional way) and fighting with my husband who has a strong vision for the future. Because I was raised in a family that didn’t have a great financial backbone, I have a lot of trouble envisioning a positive financial future and really believing what we are doing is worth it. I think I owe him an apology. This was a great post for me to read.

    • jenna says:

      This is very honest, and thank you for admitting it. Money is something that makes me uncomfortable to talk about, and I think it’s largely because of how I was raised. I am scared of having too much or too little. I can speak to impressing others though – it’s not worth it! Those people we are trying to impress don’t really care anyway! Blessings and grace to you.

      • Hannah says:

        Thank you so much for responding, it means a lot! It is hard sometimes to not have any real life “frugal friends” 🙂

        • Jen says:

          If you are diligent in supporting your husband and working toward your goals, you will be in a much better (and more enviable, although that is certainly not the point!) place in your life than your friends. And maybe they will will see your wisdom sooner than later and start asking for your advice! 😉

        • Amy says:

          You can always be a positive influence on them and be their frugal friend! 🙂 I’ve seen this happen to my friends because they have seen the changes in me and my family’s financial outlook.

  • Jennifer Ward says:

    I never reply the blogs I read…but this one really hit home. Thank you for putting this out today…on a day most needed. Some people think giving up careers to stay home and raise children, take care of family members and take care of yourself is wrong. Living with less…is really giving us so much more!! (If that makes sense?)

    Thank you again!

  • Kelly says:

    This is great advice. I heard a sermon series by Andy Stanley a few years ago where he talked about investing small increments of time every day and how those small investments have exponential results. Putting 15 minutes into something every single day provides exponential growth over time, yet you cannot stockpile the time and get the same results. Working out 15 to 30 minutes a day provides tons of benefits over time, benefits you couldn’t get if you tried to pack all of your workout time into one day. However, it’s a hard concept to execute because choosing not to do that “15 Minute Task” on one day doesn’t have big time consequences at the time.

  • Sandra says:

    So true! I made the decision 7 years ago to leave my life as I knew it to care for my mom. Almost everyone thought I was making the wrong decision but, I knew in my heart it was a calling. My mother recently joined my Lord and Savior and I now find myself contemplating what I should do with the rest of my life. I know I need to make some decisions on which direction I want my life to go in now but, I just can’t seem to find any answers. I accepted a job working 4 hours a day and find outside of that time I feel lost. I know the Lord will provide for me, guide me and direct my steps. I just don’t feel I have any sense on what will be next. I too pray for clear direction and insight as to what I am to do next, hopeful and waiting to see what He has in store for me next!

  • Kim says:

    Loved this book – it was the book of the month at our church in January! I normally speed read through a book the moment I get it, but this one had so much “meat” to it, I had to read a little, chew a little and let it digest before I could read more.

    It touched several areas of my life and walk – spiritual, physical and financial. Thank you for sharing it with your readers.

  • Jill says:

    This is so true! We were discussing this in my Bible study a few weeks ago. Any of us could have a completely different life (perhaps not for the better) due to decisions we make.

  • Marinee says:

    Great post!

  • Brooke says:

    You will choose to do what will be most pleasing to God and what will be best for your family- that is the kind of woman you are. Good luck with your decision!

  • christina says:

    This is the reason why Money Saving Mom is my favorite Coupon Blogger. By far. Love.

  • Laurie says:

    I too love this quote. As a single mom I am blessed that I do make all of our big decisions on my own. I also look at this quote in a different perspective. Because I have made long term goals and plans years ago I have been very successful. Choosing a career I love with excellent pay and benefits has led be to successful financial freedom raising and adopting Both of my girls from China. Choosing the house I have lived in for 13 years and deciding to refinance and have it paid off by the time I am 55 was an excellent decision. I now feel that we as a family are in a great place. God has given me peace about finances, health issues,job stability and life with my girls short term and long term. At the age of 41 now having started to make big decisions back in the 90’s when I declared a major in college my life is very sweet. Sometimes for so many of us you do not know where you might be in 6 mos let alone 10 years. I always dream big and set low expectations. It works for us and our beautiful life. And yes I still swipe the plastic,but pay it off now.

  • Ellen says:

    “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” — Proverbs 16″9

    I’ve taken a lot of comfort from that verse, because I’ve seen its truth so much in my life. When I pause from looking at my life with a microscope (daily to-do lists, menu plans, etc.) and look at the big picture, I see God’s faithfulness and guidance.

    If I could put a big asterisk next to that quote though, I would. And the asterisk would lead to this: “God is still sovereign and Jesus still loves you in that totally different life.” Because not all decisions lead directly to goals and some are intertwined with pain. It’s a mystery I’m trying to embrace right now.

    Praying for peace and guidance for you, Crystal.

    • Crystal says:

      I so agree that while it’s important that we set goals and be intentional in the choices we make, God is ultimately in control and it’s so important to trust His leading… one step at a time. It’s a beautiful place to be, even when things don’t always make sense and we can’t see more than light for the very next step.

      Thank you so much for your prayers; they are much appreciated!

      • Ellen says:

        I might not have even paused to reply to this a year ago, but then God rocked our world and led us through a career change and a move. We’re still processing it and learning yet again that not everything about our lives or spiritual growth is linear or explainable.

        Of course, none of that is to say goals or intentionality are bad. I’m just trying to learn when to hold them with an open hand. (And on that note, I will now pursue my intentional goal of going to bed so I can rise early tomorrow! 🙂 )

        Thanks for your leadership and encouragement, Crystal.

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