Agile Decision Making

I know the term, “agile” is quite en vogue at the moment, but I realized that it’s a great way to define decision making in my life.

Agile, in this context, just means making a decision or delivering something, then seeking feedback, improvements, and iterating on your initial idea.

I have a saying: “I’m making the best decision I can right now with the information I have.” That does a couple of things:

  1. It allows me to decide something rather than procrastinate.
  2. It reduces the pressure because I’m not making a decision that lasts forever.
  3. It gives me the basis for changing my mind later when I have more information.

It is important to realize that decisions do have long-range consequences, so make sure that your decisions align with your ethics and the goals you have for your life. (You do have personal and family goals, right?)



Sound Check

I’ve started listening to podcasts or audiobooks on my morning walk, and for the most part, I’m liking it. It’s a big change for me, because for the last year or more I’ve walked in complete silence.

Actually, that’s not true. I was usually talking to myself.

While I had hoped to be able to think while I walk, I’ve discovered that I actually can’t seem to keep my mind trained on one topic for long enough to come to any conclusions.

I basically can’t think without writing something down. It forces me to focus.

So, I’m testing whether there’s more value for me to have input on my walk or silence. We’ll see.


I’ve had thousands of good intentions, a few of those ideas morphed into some kind of action, and most of them have run their course in due time. However, in a few cases, those good ideas have grown into full-fledged habits.

  • For instance, I’ve journaled daily since July 27, 2010.
  • I’ve eaten a healthy breakfast of rolled oats almost daily since about 2009.
  • I walk each morning. (It’s an old man activity, but my joints are grateful.)
  • My wife & I have the exact same bedtime routine with each of our children. That started when Ellie (16) was four or five.

There are a few common reasons those habits stuck:

  1. I added them either to the beginning or end of my day, which means I do them without having too many other distractions.
  2. I have made them easy to maintain by keeping whatever is needed directly in my path. So my journal is beside my bed. My walking clothes are easy to snag.
  3. I’ve kept the expectation low for each, so I don’t feel overwhelmed with the task. For instance, my journaling is not super interesting, but it occasionally is, and that’s ok.

Space To Think

You may be a chronic over-committer like me. I learned something that radically altered my over-committing.

The biggest challenges are when someone asks you to do something. You’re agreeable, and doggone likeable, so you want to reply with an immediate, “yes.” But, later you probably wish you hadn’t.

Next time, just create a space to think by using a statement that buys you some time, and allows you to choose your obligations. Just say, “That sounds really interesting. Before I can commit, though, let me check my schedule, and get back with you.”

Now, you’ve got a chance to align your schedule with your priorities before you commit.

Things Didn’t Have To Turn Out That Way

I love reading history, and this morning, I was reading a collection of speeches by the eminent American historian, David McCullough. He said that it is easy to forget that individuals made choices and decisions in the present not really knowing how things would turn out. We tend to think of them in the context of the past. It’s too easy to forget that things didn’t have to turn out the way they did.

That impacts my choices for today. My responsibility is to step up to any challenge and recognize that it is all I can control.

I Didn’t Have Time

The next time someone asks you if you did something, and you reply, “I didn’t have time,” try this instead: “I prioritized other things instead.”

Because that’s the truth. We all have the same amount of time, and we all make priority choices constantly.

That’s not a bad thing, but let’s be honest and take ownership of our time. You have plenty of time to do the things you deem important.

Wrestling With Rest

Maybe I’ve corrupted the good ol’ Puritan work ethic, but it seems like when I’m working hard I feel useful, and when I’m resting I feel lazy.

But the more I learn about how our bodies and mind work, the more I’m convinced that appropriate rest and downtime are far more important than I ever imagined.

So, I’m trying to embrace sleep, and plenty of it. I’m trying to accept sitting still, being calm, and sometimes even being bored.


All The News You Don’t Need To Know

You are on news overload.

The truth is that you don’t need to know everything that is going on. The media/internet/socialworld all thrive on getting eyeballs on their stuff, so just because they’re talking about it doesn’t mean it’s important.

Choose when and where you consume your news. Do it on your terms.

When you hear a piece of news, ask:

  1. What action can I take because of this news?
    1. If you can’t take any action, you’re creating a news burden.
  2. How do I feel/react when I heard/see this news?
    1. If it doesn’t stir action or create peace, you’re creating unnecessary drama in your life.

You Own The Phone

“You own the phone. It doesn’t own you.” Ed Young, Jr.

Technology has made it easy to be always connected and always available. That’s too big of a burden for anyone to carry.

Just because your phone rings does not mean you must answer it. It’s your choice.

Just to prove to yourself and your phone that you own it, try a couple of things:

  1. Set Do Not Disturb on your phone from the evening until work hours.
  2. Intentionally leave your phone somewhere where you can’t access it for a while.

What do you do to prove that you own the phone?