Decisive Moments – The Value of Our Actions

What are the consequences of your everyday actions?  We make decisions all the time that have great effects on our health and habits without even realizing it. Should you eat that banana or the chocolate bar? Whenever you choose to take a particular course of action, it is easy to choose based on the immediate consequences. But remember to also consider the long term consequences – how will it affect your future? Always remember what your actions mean for the future you. 

“There are 14,000,605 futures” 

“In how many of them do I develop the right habit?”  

There are many decisive moments on the journey to form good habits: waking up on time, opening that book for the first time, writing that first word.  Consider what you gain and what you miss on every decision that you make.  A new set of outcomes become available, and many others close forever on every decision.  Choose wisely. 

Say that you’re seated at your dining room table, studying. The clock strikes twelve and it’s time to eat.  You have two options: the banana or the chocolate bar.  You consider both options carefully.  The chocolate bar will taste so good!  Plus, it’ll give you such an energy high to continue working at your textbook.  The banana doesn’t look so good in comparison.  It’ll get your hands dirty and it’s a bit too ripe for your tastes.   

Now that you’ve considered the immediate, think about the consequences.  What happens if you choose the chocolate bar?  What futures open for you?  Which ones close?  How will eating the chocolate bar affect your studies?  Won’t the sugar high just lift you up higher for the eventual fall?  Then you’ll have to take a break from your cramming.  It just isn’t efficient.  Plus, it’s a slippery slope.  If you take that chocolate bar, won’t you feel further inclined to take another the next time?  You’ll already have your foot in the door of unhealthy habits once you’ve taken your first one.  How will you feel afterwards? Preoccupied by your hunger for chocolate bars?  Or maybe your thoughts about your health and habits?  And how will that affect your work?  Your connections?  How will it affect your habits?  It’s just not worth taking that first chocolate bar. 

How about the banana?  Wouldn’t you call this fruit a healthy snack?  Won’t you also get habituated to this taste?  But this time you’ll be inclined towards a healthy choice.  You won’t have to worry about your health or the unsustainable surge of energy.  You’ll come to love eating bananas and the sticky skin and overripe bits won’t bother you so much anymore.  You’ll be a great influence on your friends and family who you’ll feel a duty to keep healthy.  Without all of the shameful preoccupations of an unhealthy diet, you’ll be free from those worries and you’ll be able to focus on your studies now and living the good life later. 

The decision between the banana and the chocolate bar is clearly a decisive moment.  We don’t think nearly enough about the consequences that our actions have over us and others.  The good news is that it’s completely in our power.  Next time that you’re poised between a chocolate bar and a banana, ask yourself “Which one of the 14,000,605 futures am I going down now?” 

To learn more about decisive moments: 

James Clear. “Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results.” Apple Books. 

Author: Zac Lo
Editor: Cathy Xie
Researcher: Zoya Haroun