“Questions are places in your mind where answers fit. If you haven’t asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go… You have to ask the question — you have to want to know — in order to open up the space for the answer to fit.” ~ Clay Christensen, Harvard Business School Professor
Every decision we make impacts our stories and the stories of those closest to us. There’s no getting around the fact that well-placed, appropriately timed, thought-provoking questions result in better decisions and fewer regrets.
What if you had a list of questions you could ask yourself when faced with important decisions? My goal is to give you the questions ahead of time. Not all the questions. But five key questions that can change everything.
I believe asking them leads to lives of better decisions and fewer regrets. That’s why these five questions comprise the heart of this study:
The Integrity Question: Am I being honest with myself?
The Legacy Question: What story do I want to tell?
The Conscience Question: Is there a tension that deserves my attention?
The Maturity Question: What is the wise thing to do?
The Relationship Question: What does love require of me?
We’ll address each question in detail in a future session.
In this session — which corresponds to Chapter 1 (“More Than a Decision”) in the book — the focus is on an important but easy-to-miss relationship between your decisions and your future: You are where you are because of the decisions you’ve made. You’ll discover why that’s true, why you make bad decisions, and how you can rewrite the story of your life… one decision at a time.
What is the last decision you’d like to unmake? Why?
WATCH VIDEO (16:30 MINUTES)
Watch the video segment for Session 1. This summary is provided for your benefit as well as space to take additional notes.
Key Teaching Summary
In this first session, we discuss how your decisions determine the direction and quality of your life. If that’s not motivation enough to focus more on the choices you make, consider this. Your decisions also determine the direction and quality of other people’s lives — not just today but for generations to come.
I was first introduced to the power of decisions at a young age. When I was a kid, my dad wouldn’t tell me what to do. Specifically, he wouldn’t tell me what to do when I didn’t know what to do and wanted him to tell me what he thought I should do. Now, I know… most kids don’t want their parents telling them what to do. But on occasion, I wanted him to tell me what to do. And he wouldn’t. Worse, instead of answering my questions, he asked me more questions!
His go-to question was: What are you going to do when I’m not around to tell you what to do? My go-to response was: But you are around, so tell me!
By opting for questions over direction, my dad helped me make the connection between good questions and good decision-making. It also led to fewer regrets. We’ve all heard someone say, “I should have asked more questions.” That’s because we know intuitively that the more questions we ask, the more information we acquire… which leads to greater insight and, hopefully, better decisions.
Your decisions, along with your responses to other people’s decisions (which are also your decisions), are about the only thing you can control in life. This means we would be wise to stop at every decision-making juncture and consider the story we want to tell.
Perhaps even more compelling, we should consider what story we want told about us. The good news is that you get to decide one decision at a time, because that’s how you write the story of your life . . . one decision at a time.
Choose the questions that work best for your group.
- Which of the five questions are you most excited to learn about? Why?
- When have you based a decision solely on your immediate happiness or gratification? Describe the decision — and the result.
- Do you agree that there’s not a correlation between what you know and what you do? Why or why not?
- Every decision we make becomes a permanent part of our stories. If your story were a movie, for instance, what type of movie would it be?
- When have you sold yourself on a really bad idea? What was your logic for proceeding with it at the time — and what was the outcome?
Complete this exercise on your own. Take up to ten minutes.
Truth is, we don’t know what hangs in the balance of our decisions. We can’t accurately predict outcomes. But we know with certainty there are outcomes associated with each of our decisions. Even the small ones. This exercise reveals the truth of this concept by considering the impact generational decisions have had on your life.
Perhaps your life would be very different if your dad hadn’t chosen to keep picking up that bottle. You know someone whose life would be different if their momma hadn’t run off and left the family. The opposite is true as well. Maybe your father is the one who conquered that habit and kept the family together. Maybe your mother chose to stay when another woman would have walked. This exercise isn’t designed to cast blame or shame on those who came before us… but simply to reveal the long-term impact of decisions.
How might this apply to your life? Take five minutes to write your thoughts down. Then, if you’d like, you can share them with the group:
What could you imagine being different in your life today had your parents or grandparents decided differently about a few key things in their lives?
What did you learn about yourself and the importance of decisions generationally through this exercise?
It’s true. Your decisions have shaped the direction and quality of your life so far — for good and for… well, maybe not so good. You are where you are for the most part because of decisions you’ve made. Regardless of how things are going or have gone, you are responsible for you.
The good news is that you get to write your story… one decision at a time. And the best chapters can still be ahead of you. It all depends on asking the right questions!
Your decisions are how you control your life. They are your steering wheel. So consider the story you want to tell with your life. This study gives you the power to make that story a reality through five well-placed, appropriately timed, thought-provoking questions. Because good questions lead to better decisions and fewer regrets.
Don’t forget that if you choose, there are between-sessions personal study activities you can complete on your own.
Before your group gathers for the next session, read Chapter 2 (“The Integrity Question”) in the book Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets. Use the space provided to write any key points or questions you want to bring to the next group meeting.
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Let us know your thoughts on Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets in the comments. We want to hear from you!
“Classic Andy—accessible to any of us wanting to change, yet deep enough to challenge you if you think you know the answers.”
—MAX LUCADO, pastor and New York Times bestselling author
“Andy is a voice I’ve trusted in my life for a long time. One of the dozen things I like about Andy is that he doesn’t varnish the truth but will tell us the way it is with kindness and a boatload of wisdom. This is the right book for the right time. We’ve got some important decisions to make and this book will help frame the right questions to ask.”
—BOB GOFF, Sweet Maria’s husband and New York Times bestselling author of Love Does, Everybody Always, and Dream Big
“In the end, the life you get ‘stuck’ with is the life you make. Now is the time to change your choices to regret-proof your future. Andy will show you how.”
—LEVI LUSKO, pastor of Fresh Life Church and author