“I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.”
- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
All of our actions have consequences. This relationship is as dependable as the ripples created by throwing a pebble into a lake. Consequences can be either good or bad. Problems arise when we don’t think about or recognize the consequences of our actions.
When you are not aware of the consequences of your behavior, two things may happen. In the case where the consequences are negative, you run the risk of repeating the same mistake. When you are pleased with the consequences, you may also fail to duplicate the behavior that gave you the desired results. In either case, you will be frustrated.
For example, how far could you get driving a car if you didn’t comprehend the consequences of the various controls? Without an understanding of the operation of the steering wheel, gas pedal, and brakes, you wouldn’t remain on the road for very long.
Your life works the same way. It’s important to understand the consequences of your actions. Many of the consequences you experience are predictable. However, there may be some you didn’t anticipate. They are part of your unending education.
Unexpected consequences provide you with new insights. Invaluable knowledge can be gained by analyzing exactly what happened and why. The discoveries made in this fashion provide you with new information you can use to reach your goals.
Ideally, when assessing various courses of action, an analysis of the corresponding potential consequences enables you to make the best possible decision. This is the basis of the carpenter’s adage, “measure twice, cut once.” You have probably been told numerous times to think before you act.
Acting impulsively, without thinking, is the same as cutting without measuring at all. This approach is similar to attempting to drive a car by cranking the steering wheel in one direction and then correcting by cranking in the other direction. You will run off the road in short order.
Not every decision you make will be perfect. Your objective is to take the most appropriate action based on the information you have available. If the actual consequences are not what you wanted, you must then take different action and keep going. Don’t waste any time lamenting what you should have done differently.
Ignoring or denying the link between your action and the corresponding consequences will often make things worse. You won’t be able to take control of your life unless you see yourself as being responsible for the outcomes you are experiencing.
When faced with undesirable consequences, you want to first identify the cause. Next, determine the action you need to take to mitigate, change, or eliminate them. Then get in gear and do whatever is necessary to correct the situation. Action, not complaining, brings results.
If you fail to take personal responsibility for your actions, you will exacerbate your situation. Those who blame others for their circumstances develop a victim mentality. The result is a belief that they have no power over the direction of their destiny. This type of thinking leads people to accept suffering as normal and unavoidable.
The only way to effect different consequences is to alter your actions. This is accomplished by being proactive in every area of your life. Then when something happens you don’t like, your first response will be “what do I have to do to fix this?”
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper. 2008 Bryan Golden