Making One Good Decision Is The Key To Everything

Monday through Friday, my alarm goes off at 5:04AM.  I have two options:

  1. Get up, go downstairs and exercise.
  2. Flip the switch, resetting the alarm for 5:39AM.

That’s a gap of thirty five minutes.  It’s thirty five minutes of extra sleep or it’s a thirty minute workout.

My goal is to work out three times a week minimum.  More would be nice but anything less than three and it’s not a good week.

I don’t do anything too intense. I have a recumbent exercise bike in the basement, so I’ll head downstairs to use that.  Sometimes I’ll lift some of the dumbbells that we have down there.  During spring and summer months, I’ve been known to walk around the neighborhood and enjoy the sunrise.

But, it all starts with that first decision.

Measuring My Progress by kretyen, on Flickr

I’ve found that the decision on whether to wake up or sleep in goes much further than that.  It can lead to an overall impact much greater than that of just the workout.

In an average workout, I burn, for the sake of argument, 150 calories.

That means that the difference between a day when I get up versus a day when I don’t is 150 calories.

Not too shabby, right?

Except it often goes further.

On a day when I work out, I know that I’ve already started things on the right foot.  So, when it comes time to pass the candy jar later in the afternoon, I’m more likely to pass on a day when I’ve worked out versus on a day when I haven’t.  That can be 100 calories of no-candy eating.

When I get home from work, I’m normally hungry and I’ll usually have a snack at the same time that Little Boy Beagle wakes up from his nap as a way to tide me over until dinner.  One of my favorite things to snack on is graham crackers.  I’ve found that on days when I work out, I might grab a sheet, break it in half, and eat just that.  On days when I don’t, I’ll eat an entire sheet or maybe even more.  That can be another 100 calories!

Add those three things up and we’re talking a difference of 350 net calories in a single day, but the ‘indirect’ benefits have already become more of a factor than the direct benefits derived from the actual workout.

The same can hold true with financial decisions.  If you’re on a strict budget, and you go out on a whim and spend $10 that wasn’t accounted for, that might look innocent enough especially when you figure that $10 isn’t going to really break the budget that much.

Only that $10 purchase can open the door.  After all, if you can afford $10 without an impact, what’s going to stop you with the next thing you want that’s $20? After that, it could be $40.  Keep going and you’ll suddenly be wondering how you spent $500 over budget at the end of the month.

All because you made the $10 decision that started the whole thing.

I truly believe that making one good decision is the key to making a lot of other decisions that will help things go your way.

Don’t worry about every decision being the right one.  Just focus on the first one you make being the right one, and you’ll have a much easier time of it and you’ll find that many other decisions will simply fall into place.

And, for the record, today I got up at 5:09!

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25 thoughts on “Making One Good Decision Is The Key To Everything

  1. You are 100% right that one good decision could change the course of your entire day. The opposite is just as true unfortunately. Exercising in the morning has long been a great way for me to get my day started off right!

  2. YES.So true! Working out helps me eat better, makes me focus more, and makes me feel better about myself. But I hate the “getting there” part.

  3. It’s a great motto that you can use on so many major and minor life decisions.
    Buying too much house, or dropping out of school or quitting your job before the next one is lined up.

    Love it.

    • Unfortunately, I’m not anywhere near 100% about getting up with the alarm but I do try to do so more often than not!

  4. First of all that is awesome that you get up before 6am in either case. I am more of a night person so I do all my exercising in the evening after I get off of work or in the afternoons on the weekends. I like how you talk about starting the day off focusing on fitness has a positive ripple effect throughout the day. -Sydney

    • I find that if I work out in the evening I get too charged up and can’t sleep. I think every person needs to find how their body patterns work and try to do their best to fit their exercise into that.

  5. Great points in here beagle – way to go on the early to rise for the exercise – 35 extra minutes of sleeping wont make that much of a difference either way – you cant get a complete REM cycle in, so you may be just making yourself worse off in the long run.

    • Very true, though honestly with kids waking up regularly the whole sleep cycle thing kind of goes out the window more often than not *yawn* See? 🙂

  6. I used to get up at 4:00am so that I could workout and work on my business before going to work. Now with 2 babies in the house (5 month old twins that usually don’t sleep through the night) it’s a struggle to get out of bed at 6:00.

    I hope someday soon I can get back to my early morning routine. It makes a big difference when you can start the day off right.

    • Twins, wow, that’s got to be double the fun! We have a two year old and a seven month old, so I completely hear you on the not sleeping through the night aspect.

  7. Well said. A good decision can change everything. Good for you for making exercise a priority. We also get up in the morning and work out. Our alarm typically buzzes at 5:45am. It is early I know but once we push ourselves out of bed and get moving we feel so much better.

    • Taking that first step out (especially when it’s cold!) is the hardest, but after that it get easier!

  8. It’s a domino effect. One of the motivational books I’ve read recently talks about working out first thing in the morning, because otherwise you won’t do it. I like the whole “domino effect” you’ve outlined here, too. Good reasons to get it movin’!

    • I think the morning aspect works best for me, but I know that working out at a different time might work for others. As long as you carry it through even into the next day (assuming you work out in the evening), the strategy still works.

  9. One of the things I learned from a great book “The Happiness Advantage” is that you have to help yourself to make the right decisions. Take all obstacles away that would delay taking the right action. In case you want to go sporting in the morning, e.g. sleep in your sporting clothes or put them in any case besides your bed. The first decision for me related to if I go early out of bed for to sport or not, is taken the evening before. I want and need 7 hours of sleep. Thus if I want to wake up early, the first decision to take is to go to bed a little earlier.

    • Good point, if you know your body and it’s needs, you have to make the right adjustments, thus the extra sleep.

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