I love my morning commute. I very intentionally take the
long way through my neighborhood, which takes me down some beautiful wooded
streets. I love any opportunity to
see wildlife and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, especially in the
It is common for me to see deer, rabbits, raccoons, opossums
and squirrels. Today I discovered the problem with squirrels. I admit, I could
stand to slow down a bit, but in this situation there was plenty of time. I wasn’t cresting a hill nor was I
coming unexpectedly around a corner.
And there he stood in that fidgety, nibbling-on-an-acorn sort of way in
the middle of the street—bushy tail and all. I’m not sure why, but I began to
talk to the squirrel, “c’mon squirrel, get out of the road!” I don’t think he
heard me. As I got closer he
looked up seemingly surprised to consider his immanent demise. He jumped to
attention and looked as if he was going right, then reconsidered and went left,
then right again, then left again. Finally, with nanoseconds to spare he darted
off the road to safety.
Indecision. That is the problem with squirrels,
indecision. When facing certain
death, a decision must be made. Either side of the road would do, just pick
one! In this moment I realized
this is often the problem with people. We face important decisions yet hesitate
Indecision affects us in every arena of life such as dating
and marriage, productivity at work, establishing new life disciplines or home
Here are a few reasons why you might act like a squirrel…
having options, but in decision-making the presence of many options actually
causes us to have decision paralysis; we act like squirrels.
Consider staging your
decision-making in two phases, first narrow the field of choices then make the
by the insignificant.
Picture the squirrel, oblivious to the oncoming car because of a
preoccupation with a single acorn.
This happens in our lives. We are seduced by the ease and availability
of insignificant things (video games, incessantly checking Facebook and Twitter
or getting involved in another project that seems more fun or easier) and we allow
opportunities to pass us by.
identify your “acorn.” What is it
that distracts you regularly? Try not touching that “acorn” for one day or schedule
only specific times for it and regain your focus.
It’s easy to get caught up into thinking that you must
figure out the long-term solution in a given decision. However, none of us have
the luxury of predicting the future so we must make decisions now.
Consider what the best decision is
now. I’ve learned that good
long-term decisions ALWAYS come with good short-term steps.
for the feeling.
this a lot from people who are traditionally considered “creative.” The truth is, we are all creative. Sure, there are times when the
”creative juices” are flowing, but that is hard to count on.
Instead, schedule when the decision
will be made or when the work will get done and DO IT! Don’t wait for the
Bottom line: you
cannot have it all…but you can have something. Indecision, for fear of missing out on the next great
opportunity, is squirrel thinking.
We need to make the most of the
opportunity we have. You do not want to live your life based on fear. Every
decision creates the opportunity for more decisions and soon you will realize
that you are carving out a life instead of having life handed to you.
in a world that has more available information that any other time in
history. More information is
usually an excuse. Obviously we
need good information, but don’t be a squirrel. We don’t need complete
This is where your brain comes in.
You must supply your own experience, wisdom and expertise to the situation.
“I don’t have time.” I say it too
myself often, just like you do.
The truth is, you have exactly the same amount of time as everyone
else. In fact, God distributes
time evenly for every living person…one second at a time. Time is not our problem; it is how we
allocate the time we are given.
Yes, you may have to juggle many
priorities, but hey, that’s decision-making.
Sometimes we lack the confidence to
make a decision. Be honest with yourself and import some encouragement. The Bible often talks about the need
Recruit a few friends to be your
“confidence builders” until the decision is made or the project is
complete. You may also spend a
little more time in prayer, which is a proven source of appropriate confidence.
will people think?
deals with peer pressure. If you don’t at least at some level care what people
think, you are messed up! We must
understand this in balance. We
cannot simply dismiss everyone and haphazardly make decisions, we need the
insight and help of others, however we cannot be paralyzed by the fear that
some may disapprove of a good and valid decision.
Define who the helpful people are
in your life and welcome the input. Define those who are harmful influences in
your life and create a boundary that keeps them from creating stress in your decision-making.
Sometimes the chance of failure is
enough to stop all progress.
Failure is a tough pill to swallow, but we all must fail. Failure cultivates humility and trust
in God, which are essential virtues for successful living. Failure is a wonderful
and sometimes merciless teacher and usually provides the needed lessons for
success moving forward.
Solution: Fail forward. Make a list of five
lessons learned from your most recent failure and read that list when fear
begins to get the best of you. Don’t let failure get the last word.
The squirrel lived. Good for the squirrel. I seriously doubt
he learned his lesson. Perhaps you will be different and resign from being a
squirrel and make a decision.