One Small Step – Five Useful Questions for Making Decisions

By Jill Richardson at


We’re revisiting some posts on decision making as a good way to start 2017. If you could ask five questions that would make decisions easier, would you use them? I would, and I do. I’ve borrowed the questions from Gretchen Rubin, but the embellishments, for better or worse, are my own.

For the first two questions, see the last two weeks. And now,

Fateful Question #3.

 “When I’m reluctant to take a risk or face something uncomfortable”–the next important question to ask is:
What steps would make things easier?
Oh, this one is so important. So often, we don’t tackle a decision because it’s completely overwhelming. Our family has this issue—big time. We have trouble with big, looming “things that must be done” because we know they are enormous, and we don’t know where to start. So that makes them scary.
If you’re like us, you know what happens. Nothing. Nada. Zip. We look at that big scary hairy thing and think, “Yeah, maybe I’ll stalk my friend’s new boyfriend on Facebook for a while and get back to this one.” Except we never do.

Enter question #3–What steps would make things easier?

Ah, manageable, small, steps. I can do that, right? This works in big and small ways.
For instance, you know what happens when you tell your kid, “Clean your room!” He goes to his room, moves two things from the floor to the top of the dresser, then flops down on the bed and plays Xbox. Not because he wants to disobey you (although that may be in the mix, too), but because he has no idea how to approach something as humungous as, “Clean your room.”

Small, manageable tasks.

Pick up your books. Make your bed. Clean the fish tank. See if the fish is still alive. Bring the dishes to the kitchen. Flush the fish.

Say I am staring at a blank page for a proposal I know is due, and it may just be the best-selling NYT-list book that gets me that trip to New Zealand, but I can’t think of anything better than “Publish my book because it’s amazing and — Squirrel! Tree! Monkeys in trees– playing with squirrels! Banana!!!”

Am I going to give the whole thing up and go drown my sorrows at Starbucks?

No. Well, maybe. At least that last part. But I won’t give up. I’ll break it down into steps.

1. Research topic.

2. Look for competing books.

3. Brainstorm chapter outline.

4. Go get Starbucks.

5. Make raspberry truffle brownies.

6. Surf Pinterest for a better brownie recipe.

                 Off. Track.

7. Get back with the program.

What steps would make things easier? For you? Today? To do that big thing that scares you?

  • Make a list.
  • Put it in order.
  • Plan when and how each step will get done.
  • Get what you need to do it.
  • Do it.
  • Celebrate at Starbucks.

Back to Question #1—What are you waiting for?

But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3.12-14

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