Your Everyday Decisions Are More Important Than You Realize


Street life

It’s easy to look back on your past and see how big decisions have changed your life. What’s harder to do is look back and realize how all those small everyday decisions have impacted you.

Most people give a lot of thought to making big decisions, but how many of us give much thought to the small everyday ones? There’s a great quote by Wayne Dyer that goes, “Our lives are the sum total of the choices we have made.” So what kind of life are your everyday decisions making?

Many Small Decisions Become Big

It’s easy to brush off those small decisions you make every day as insignificant or too little to make much of an overall difference to your life. For instance, if you’re interested in losing weight, deciding to eat a doughnut one day instead of a banana probably won’t make much of a difference.

I can see why people think that. One small decision probably isn’t going to make or break any huge goal or dream you have.

But that’s assuming your decision to eat a doughnut is an isolated one. It isn’t.

It also assumes your everyday decisions don’t matter much. They do.

It’s certainly true that one small decision won’t make much of a difference. But how about ten, twenty, or even a hundred of them?

When you see everyday decisions as independent of each other, you see them as too small and insignificant to be important. Seeing them from this point of view means missing the bigger picture. Your everyday decisions aren’t isolated incidents separate from each other.

Rather than working in isolation, your everyday decisions build on each other. They might be small on their own, but they can add up quickly.

In essence, your everyday decisions matter because there are so many of them.

The power of everyday decisions comes from what you do or don’t do on a regular basis. They all add up. You just need to make sure they are adding up into something good for you.

Think about it this way:

Going to the gym once won’t matter. But if you follow through on that decision twice a week for several months, you’ll see a huge difference.

Taking fifteen minutes to read once isn’t much. But read that much every day and the amount of books you’ll read in a year is impressive.

The Power of Everyday Decisions

It reminds me of a time several years ago when I first started cutting out sugary and fatty foods. My willpower was good, but the people around me kept pressuring me to eat more of them. There were so many instances when I was asked to make an exception to eating those bad foods.

Usually it was for a holiday, but other times like birthdays, state fairs and celebrations had one friend or another telling me to make an exception. Additionally my workplace routinely gave out ice cream or candy as incentives. Then there were times friends told me to just indulge my sweet tooth because “one time won’t make a difference”.

Every single one of these moments was a small everyday decision when I was asked to make an exception. If I had eaten something bad on each of those occasions, I wouldn’t be sticking to my goal at all.

If I had been asked only once to make an exception, the decision would have been too small to make a difference. But cumulatively, they would have completely undermined my dietary goal.

So what are all your everyday decisions adding up to?

It’s good to ask yourself how your everyday decisions are affecting your life.

• What are all your everyday decisions adding up to?
• Is this truly an isolated decision or a trend?
• Can you see these decisions as part of the bigger picture?
• What kind of decisions do you make on a regular basis?

Your Small Decisions Affect Big Decisions

Seeing how small everyday decisions can accumulate into big changes is only half of the story. They can also affect your big decisions too.

Someone can make small decisions every day to build up their confidence. Eventually all that confidence you build up can give you the strength to make a huge decision you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

You can make a decision to write every single day. That can build up really good writing skills. Then one day you might make a huge decision to write a book.

Of course, how much your small decisions affect your life depends on how well you see the bigger picture. Seeing the choices you make every day as too small and insignificant might mean seeing them too narrowly.

Put all those choices together if you want to see how much they can really impact your life. One way or another, your everyday choices are adding up in the life you have now. Make sure it’s adding up into something great.
photo credit: zaqi

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  1. I am a firm believer in the strength of small decisions. My life’s turning points have all been set into motion by a seemingly unimportant choice: I allowed myself to get dragged to a party I didn’t want to go to and I met a future mentor; a single mouse click on a dating site let my (now) partner know that I was interested and has led to 3 wonderful years so far; and asking a dance professional about one of his classes I thought my friend would like led to a five year long dancing partnership.

    This is why I’m bound and determined to do something every single day this year: whether it is a step in a big project or simply taking care of one of life’s little irritants, my life is already better after only a month. I’m looking forward to see where these baby steps lead me this year.

    • It’s strange how one little action can have such a huge effect on your life. One click of a button can lead to years of marriage.

      That’s a cool thing you have going on this year. Just imagine how much better your life could be if you just got rid of one little irritant each day or took action towards something. Little accomplishments every day can lead to huge accomplishments. They all add up.

  2. It’s not just confidence that everyday decisions build but habit. Each day reinforces the next. The other thing with small everyday steps is that you can incrementally increase them. If you extend you daily exercise by a minute each week, or daily writing by 100 words every week then even after a few months you’re at the next level. At the moment I have some small targets on exercise (ride the bike most days), writing (ditto) and reading (5 books a month).

    • Incrementally increasing what you do each day does work. Once you reach a certain point, you know that you can do it so it’s just the matter of adding a little more. Jumping right into writing 1000 words every day is hard, but if you do 100 words a day, then a little more and a little more, you can eventually get there.

      It’s also good that you can start small and work your way up. You can build up some big things that way.

  3. They say that people overestimate how much they can accomplish in a day, but underestimate how much they can accomplish in a year.

    Such accomplishment in the long term is driven by the small decisions. Perhaps, like you say, they don’t mean much when isolated, but taken together they make all the difference in the world.

    Small decisions set the pattern.

    And it’s the pattern that creates the change. The accumulation of daily small decisions will define you more than any of the big decisions you make in life.


    • The way I like to think of it is that most big changes don’t happen in a day or even a week. If I want to build a muscular physique I need to get to the gym many times. I think the way you put it is great. Small decisions set the pattern and the pattern creates the change. All your everyday decisions are building to something.

      A big part of who you are today is because of all the little things you do on a regular basis.

  4. It’s the little things that determine what our big things are in life. I think the small decisions and the small moments in life – the ones that occur when it’s just us and our Self – are the ones that reveal who we really are and what we are really all about.

    • That’s an interesting point. The small decisions and moments in life are the ones that reveal who we are. The small ones could even reveal more about ourselves than the big decisions. After all, the small ones are the things we do every day. The could offer more insight into the type of person you are.

  5. Very interesting article and right to the point. Small decisions have a lot of times a snow ball effect: one after another and you don’t even know how you even got there. Every decision is important: big or small

    • Yeah, it’s like a snowball effect. Each one adds to the other and builds up to bigger things. It’s just important that you know what they’re building up to. Big changes can grow from small decisions.


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