9 Steps to Making Powerful, Intentional Choices

Our choices in life must be deliberate ... intentional ... carefully thought out. Not haphazard. It makes no sense to spend time in planning and creating goals without the intent to act on those goals. I'm saying "ouch" right now, because I need to hear this again and again and again...

There's a time to act, to choose. And our choices make a difference. As one of my mentors, Pam Farrel, says, "You make your choices, and your choices make you."

There are countless little choices we make every day, and we need to be proactive in choosing those things that will build our lives and encourage or help others.  Especially for the "biggies" ~ the choices that are life-changing and potentially could alter the direction of our lives, relationships, or ministries, we need to take some time to think. We don't have to flounder. We can make powerful, intentional choices for good.

Here are some helpful tips, and they all begin with the letter "p."

1. Prayer - Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). The author of wisdom doesn't want us to operate in the dark.

2. Perspective - Be sure that you know God's perspective. Seek His wisdom in the Word of God (Proverbs 2:1-6; 3:5-6).

3. Priorities - What are the priorities of your life? Family? Job? A relationship? What are your key values? Your non-negotiables? And what has God put in your heart to do? (Priorities: Matthew 6:33; 22:37-38; 28:16-20; Luke 12:34; Ephesians 5:25-33; 1 Timothy 3:5; I Corinthians 13:4-13; and the "one another scriptures" concerning the Body of Christ).

4. Picture - Before you make a choice or decision, clearly envision what you want to accomplish or achieve. Better yet, what does God want you to accomplish or achieve? What is the goal? Maybe you need to tweak the goal ~ to re-frame it ~ to help you visualize the end result. We need to clearly picture where we want to go, or our best laid plans (and choices) may fail. Part of the picturing process is a "measurement" for success. How will you know you have reached your goal?

Also, as you picture the goal or choice, is there something you need to eliminate from your thinking before you can move forward in a positive way? Something that doesn't fit?

5. Passion - Whenever we want to move forward in a positive way, it helps to add passion to our choice. When you do something with all of your heart ~ with a strong single focus ~ there is a better chance for success (see Colossians 3:23; Ecclesiastes 9:10).

6. Prepare - Is there something else you need to know before you can make a wise choice? More research? The scriptures say, "A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn't, and even brags about it" (Proverbs 13:16; see also 21:5). Do you need to study the choices and consequences of others who made a similar decision? Are there things you need to buy or do that will help you after you choose?

7. Partner - Seek out wise counsel from a mentor, life coach, or your key support group ~ someone who you see as a partner in your growth and development, or someone who comes alongside to encourage you. Consult the wisest, most godly people you know. (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22).

8. Proceed (with Confidence!) - Make the powerful action choice. All the planning in the world won't help if you don't act.

9. Practice - If your choice involves the need for transformation, and you want to build a powerful new habit, you will need to repeat the choice over and over again. Keep on replacing old thinking patterns with new, more biblical ones (Romans 12:2).

For some of you ... that list is all you need.
You can stop here and go make some great choices!

But if you want a personal example ... Let me admit that I am working on weight loss, but I need to lose more weight. A lot more weight!  Here is how I'm working through my choices:

I don't need to pray about whether God wants me to lose weight. It's pretty obvious that I need to lose weight for better health and ministry. But I do need to pray for wisdom that God will show me the "how." As I pray, I focus in on my heart... my relationship with Jesus. Do I have a desire to please Him in all I do? Am I making excuses where God has already given me clear direction?

I need to seek God's perspective in the scriptures. What does His Word say about health, stewardship of the body, and glorifying Him in my body? Are there any scriptural insights about food choices? About healthy habits? Am I responding to scripture?

How do my personal, God-given priorities come into play? How do my food choices affect my husband or other family members? How would being a healthier, more fit woman help me accomplish my goals and the calling of God in my life?

I begin to picture what that would look like. I see myself speaking on a stage to women about making wise choices, and knowing that I've been making wise choices in this area of my life. I realize that there are certain things I need to eliminate as well as to add in order to make that "picture" come true.

I start getting excited about the goal. With new passion and focus, I embrace what I need to do in order to reach my goal. I examine my kitchen cabinets with gusto, seeking those things that tend to sabotage my efforts and either give them away or toss them out. I look through a catalog and cut out a picture of the type of outfit that I want to wear when I reach my goal.

But I realize that ramping up my excitement level isn't enough. I need to properly prepare. I need to figure out the best plan of action to follow after my initial choice. I need to study some weight loss plans, perhaps. But I can begin to stock my cabinets with healthy food choices, I can learn the calorie count or GI (glycemic index) for various foods, and I can read helpful articles on weight loss and good health ... to set myself up for success.

I email a friend who can partner with me, encouraging me as I work toward my goals. She encourages me ~ "You can do this. You go, Girl!" I check with a mentor who has walked this way herself, and she gives me helpful tips. I might find an exercise partner, or an accountability partner.

And then, I simply proceed with confidence, knowing that I've done my best to think through my potential choices. I've prayed, done my research, and examined my heart. I make the powerful action choice to lose weight by ~ in my case ~ adding more low-glycemic-index fruits and vegetables, eliminating all (or most) "bad fats," cutting back drastically on sugar consumption, drinking more water, and committing to an exercise regimen. I set goals and weekly "measurements" for my success.

I realize that I will need to establish some new habits to make this work, so I map out a plan to practice new "choices that back up my target choice" on a daily basis. I figure out a new routine to follow, and new strategies (like things to say to myself or others) when the temptations to make wrong choices come. I practice the biblical "replacement principle" of renewing my mind ~ replacing lies with truth.

You can make powerful, intentional choices, too. Whether your choice involves considering a relationship, organizing an office, or making a career change, we all will benefit from a process to help us make choices that will change our lives and glorify God.

What big choice do you need to make? Why not consider that choice in light of these steps? I'd love to hear about your choices!


Rose Ann said...

Well done, Dawn! I loved this post--even though, it was very convicting!! May God continue to bless you richly as you seek His will in making your own choices and in leading other women to make wise "heart choices" each day.

Dawn Wilson said...

Thank you, Rose Ann. My ministry is all about helping women have a heart for God, and out of that, make wise/godly choices. This is probably the most intense article on choices I've written, and I'm glad it was helpful.