Manar Al Hinai: Every choice, big or small, has an impact

How the minor decisions we make can prevent us from achieving our goals.

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The other day I stayed up late, a couple of hours past my bedtime to meet some friends. I came back home later than usual and went to sleep later than planned. That made waking up at 6am for work very difficult. And it made concentrating at work even more challenging.

By the time I got back home I was too exhausted to do any exercise, ended up sleeping early and postponed working on my project.

It is funny how making a small choice that one might think irrelevant pushes us further away from our goals. Choosing to stay up late that day, delayed me working on my project and affected my productivity throughout the day. I had different goals planned out for that day, but my fatigue prevented me from accomplishing most of them.

“It’s just a teeny, tiny burger,” is a choice that takes us further away from our ideal fitness level and weight. And “I’ll stay up late and make it up during the weekend” is a choice that pushes the completion of our business targets back.

I was out with a friend of mine recently who had a fitness target to achieve and I was trying to convince her to have dinner with me so that I did not eat alone. But she refused to back down despite my plea. I have to admit I did not like eating dinner alone that day, but I respected my friend for standing by her decision and sticking firm to her target.

What if we all did the same, refusing to weaken when presented with minor decisions and choices? How much could we achieve and how much time would we save? Think of all the time we waste by making a different choice than the one we intended and not taking into consideration the implication of that decision.

Our choices act like a domino effect. For instance, deciding not to work on your book today and postponing it until the weekend, means you have potentially pushed your publishing deadline back.

Also, you cannot guarantee you will actually have time to work on it in the weekend, because ad hoc things spring up all the time, or you could face a situation that you have no control over such as illness.

That is not to say that we should live our lives walking in a straight line and leave no room for spontaneity. It is also not to say that our decisions are set in stone and we cannot divert away even once a while. But it is certainly worth keeping in mind that every choice taken will impact another.

It was not until I began a strict regime of exercise – at least three times a week – that I learnt just how positively it affected my health. It was not until I decided to sleep earlier and wake up an hour earlier that I learnt how productive I could be and how that positively affected my career and personal life. It was not until I switched from using chemical facial creams to natural products such as honey and aloe vera oil that I realised how healthy and glowing my skin became.

We do not realise how minor decisions such as switching from full fat to skimmed milk can positively affect our lives.

I talked to an aspirational business owner friend of mine about the importance of decision-making and respecting deadlines. She decided to give it a try for a month to see how it affected her business. She made a monthly target and stuck to it. I helped her out whenever she was tempted to postpone a meeting or take a day off. Not only did she achieve her target, but she also accomplished more.

Think about your life and business targets, and then try to list down the choices you made which pushed you further away from meeting them. Once you have realised the effect of procrastination, you will hopefully stand firmer by your goals and refuse to stray anymore. Which decisions will you make to change your life and improve your business?

It is strange to realise the effectiveness of a small choice, made in a spring of a moment, on our lives. But making a positive choice could have an even more positive effect on your life as a whole. The matter lies in your hands.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer based in Abu Dhabi. Follow her on Twitter: @manar_alhinai