Wright Foundation | August 16, 2022

How to Decide What Kind of Life You Want

“What do I want to do with my life? And how much can I determine how it turns out?”

It’s a great question with a great answer: You can decide how you want your life to be and then take steps to create it. Choosing to have MORE life is not limited to your career or your relationship; it only requires ONE decision.


How Great Can Your Life Become? You Get to Decide

Have you ever wondered why relatively few people lead extraordinary lives, and most people lead average lives at best? Like it or not, you have the life you decide to have.

A great life requires a great decision—The One Decision—which results in in an empowering commitment to the quality of your life. Without that, life, well, it just kind of happens.

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”
– John Lennon

I might have coined the phrase “One Decision,” but human beings have been making their One Decisions from the beginning of time. Buddha made it by sitting under the Bodhi tree. Moses made it and led the Jews out of Egypt to the promised land. Sartre deemed the process of shaping life through your decisions your “life project.”

At the Wright Foundation, the One Decision is a personal commitment to how you live a life of MORE—more satisfaction, meaning, abundance, love, vitality, and intimacy. And it has the potential to influence every aspect of your life—to become a touchstone for every other decision.

It’s yours to make and yours to live. And it’s different for everyone.


How I Made Mine

I’ve spent most of my life being “the good girl.” I worked hard, set goals and achieved them–making good grades, being a student leader, and celebrating academic achievement throughout my school years. I entered my adult life, worked hard and had great “success”—“right” job, partner, salary. To the outside world, I was flying high. But inside, I felt empty and unhappy. Even though I was reaching all my goals, I was numb. I found myself just going through the motions. I felt like I was wrapped in cotton. I thought, maybe if I just worked harder or achieved more or if I were better, then I’d feel better. But then I felt even emptier and more numb.

The thought of living the rest of my life this way terrified me! I was so sick of sleepwalking through my life. I wanted to be awake, alive, and conscious. I wanted to FEEL my life––but I didn’t know how.

Slowly those three words began to shape me. Awake, alive, conscious. They became my mantra, my slogan. My One Decision. No more deadness and sleepwalking through my life. I was going to be awake, alive, and conscious!

I didn’t really know how to live that way, but I started to use my One Decision to guide my life–and to guide my smaller decisions. What do I want to eat? If I eat that fried chicken and gravy, I’ll feel sluggish and blah. What do I enjoy that would feel better in my body, where I’d feel more awake and alive, not sluggish and deadened?

I’m zoning out at a business meeting. What can I do to realign with those words? I could engage, offer an opinion, speak up, or ask a question.

What do I want to do after work? Zone out? Or connect with my friends? Which aligns more with who I want to be? What makes me feel awake, alive, and conscious?

I kept asking myself, What makes me feel more awake, alive, and engaged? and my One Decision then guided my smaller decisions. From choosing what music to listen to, the books to read, the conversations to have, to what to eat, what to wear, who to spend time with, to how to attack a project at work…

I was soooo much more nourished. The quality of my life jumped exponentially. My days were filled with things that felt so much better to me. I was more awake, alive, and conscious. And when I wasn’t–when unconsciousness was creeping in– I’d catch it and reorient to my One Decision and choose again. I found that I was naturally dropping my bad habits—my soft addictions—that made me feel numb and muted. I was choosing things that made me feel awake and alive instead. I had so much more energy, satisfaction, fun, and fulfillment!

That One Decision still guides all my decisions and continues to lead me to a life of MORE.

One of my heroes, Abraham Lincoln, made his One Decision at the age of twenty-threeto live a life worthy of respect. He wrote it in a letter to his constituents, guiding him his whole life. In challenging times or moments of despair, Lincoln would remember his One Decision and choose a course of action that was worthy of respect. He is a beautiful example of what happens when you live by your commitment to yourself—you can’t help but contribute to a world that works for everyone.


The Opposite of One Decision? An “Undecision”

Your One Decision helps you become the most “you” possible as you live a more purposeful and conscious life. Purpose is the why of your life, and your One Decision is your how.

But here’s something my partner and I have discovered in our work together: people don’t tap the full power of their purpose until they make their One Decision.

On the other hand, people that make their One Decision without identifying their purpose still end up living purposefully.

So, if you’ve identified your purpose, you’ll be driven to live it more deeply through your One Decision. But if you haven’t identified your purpose, don’t worry. Simply by making your One Decision, you’ll begin living it.

So, what happens when we don’t consciously decide?

We unconsciously make “undecisions,” allowing our limiting beliefs— formed when we were very young—to influence our thoughts, perceptions, and decisions.

For example: you may have unconsciously decided that you aren’t worthy, that you’re not enough, that the world is not a safe place. Maybe you decided that you are unlovable, or that the world is scarce. These decisions are made from inaccurately filtered data (your past!) and prevent you from having the life you deeply desire.

When you’re not conscious of your beliefs and your One Decision, you default to these undecisions, which keep your life LESS instead of MORE.

How do you become more conscious of your beliefs? Learn what you yearn for and follow those yearnings. Yearnings are the deepest longings of your heart: to love and be loved, to touch, to matter, to serve, to create, to connect. They are universal, and when you are in touch with yours, they help you form your One Decision.


Test Drive Your One Decision

Are you ready to see what it feels like to live by your One Decision? Here are a few examples of some you can try out. Just pick one and test drive it for a day, a week, or a month. The truth is when you choose one, ultimately, you experience them all.

Here are some possibilities:

Don’t worry—you’re not signing a contract. You’re not making a rigid decision. You can change it at any time! There’s simply no way you can do it wrong. Once you start living your One Decision, whatever that decision is, you’ll instantly be living with more purpose!

There is no situation where you cannot apply your One Decision. Just ask yourself, “How can I guide this smaller decision by my One Decision?”

Use it to change the quality of an interaction, a day, or an experience. When you do this, whether at work, with family, or with friends, you can let go of trying to control every moment and instead control how the moment feels.

“Listen—are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?”
– Mary Oliver

Doesn’t that feel better? Now life isn’t just happening to you. You are an agent of your Ife!

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