From Dr. Phil show regular and author of the New York Times bestselling Best Self: Be You, Only Better, a plan for taking immediate steps to improving your life
Foreword by Dr. Phil McGraw
It is estimated that we make 35,000 decisions every day. Right now, at least one decision we make will have a powerful ripple effect across all aspects of our life. But One Decision isn't about taking one overwhelming big step; it's about starting with a single, important choice we can make every day: the decision to be authentic. It is the decision to know who you are, to be who you are, and express yourself authentically.
Whether you find yourself up against a new challenge, deciding on a change in direction, or in need of a total reinvention, Coach Mike has created a powerful blueprint to help you connect with your authenticity so that your life reflects who you truly are. With the tools in this book, you can transform what the obstacles in your life into new opportunities. He shows you how to stop constantly over-thinking the "big" decisions and reconnect with your gut instincts and make all of your decisions with confidence and peace of mind. And, this book helps you navigate the forces that routinely drive your decision making, ensuring that you're motivated by facts instead of fears, clarity over confusion, and evidence over emotion.
One Decision is an inspiring and practical action plan to help you improve your life, find your purpose, improve your mental health and relationships, work on your physical health, and even make more money. Drawing on twenty years of experience helping individuals from all walks of life make real and lasting change, Coach Mike has a refreshing approach for motivating you to take a risk, be bold, and take real action toward a better life.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Decision to Be Your Best Self
There's something we all do, every one of us, about thirty-five thousand times a day on average. We do it every single second of our waking life. We do it when we're happy, when we're sad, when we're tired, and when we're energized. Sometimes it feels really easy, and sometimes it can feel like pure agony. It's something we do when we're trying to pursue the love of our life, or when we're trying to get away from someone we thought was the love of our life. Some people have utilized it to make a lot of money, and some have lost all their money as a result of it. Some people like to do this all by themselves, and some people expect others to do it for them. We often label it as "good" or "bad." It's instinctual, it's intuitive, it can require a lot of action
or none at all.
I'm talking about decisions.
The majority of those thirty-five thousand daily decisions won't have a critical impact on our lives; I call them autopilot decisions. When I say autopilot, I am talking about the stuff that every human being needs to do. We make a choice to eat, to go to sleep, when to go to the bathroom. Obviously, if you're dealing with issues on this level, then you have to address them first and foremost, because they can threaten your ability to survive. But what we're going to be talking about in this book is how to make conscious decisions that are lined up toward a better life. Because let's face it: a better life doesn't just fall in our laps.
We have to create it! We have to take action toward it.
As a life coach, I have worked with thousands of clients over the past eighteen years, and their backstories and situations vary widely. I have worked with celebrities, business owners, corporations, homeless individuals, and everyday people. Some have had struggles in their personal lives with relationships, while others were looking to make twice as much money as they were currently making. I have helped people who were making six-figure salaries to become millionaires, and I have helped millionaires simplify their lives and focus on their family rather than on their finances. But the thing I frequently found was that the changes they needed to make in their life came down to making authentic decisions. That is, taking action in their lives, but from the person they truly are at their core.
This book is, in part, about taking that action-about making the kinds of decisions that can put you on a more positive path in life. You are likely making many decisions each and every day that could determine the course of your future. And the common denominator in all of those decisions is you. So I want to bring awareness not just to the kinds of decisions you're making but to what is driving you to make those decisions. Why do we make decisions to self-sabotage? Why do we not stay on track with our goals or struggle with thinking patterns for years? If, for example, I make a decision to improve my health but my belief system is that I am incapable of it, I will have to work so much harder. It will not be inspiring, it will not be fun, it will feel like work.
That's what we are going to do together in this book. We are going to identify what is authentic to you, help you get into alignment with that authenticity, and, ultimately, help you make decisions from that place. As a result, I believe that you will feel better and achieve more of what you want in your life and decrease what you do not want.
This book is about the paradigm shift that I believe is vital for us to make right now: I want you to stop thinking about making the best decision for your life and instead to make the decision as your Best Self. That is your One Decision. And in the rest of this chapter, I'm going to show you why that's so important. Before we go any further, I want to share with you the four main tenets of this book:
The One Decision Paradigm
When our decisions are authentic, we can let go and let the universe decide.
When we see opportunities, we can make authentic decisions.
When we are being our Best Self, we are able to see obstacles as opportunities.
The first step to creating a better life for ourselves is to live as our Best Self.
You're going to see the terms "Best Self" and "authentic self" a lot throughout this book. This concept is neither negative nor positive; it's just you. It's about being aligned with your truth, and if you believe in a spiritual practice, then it's being aligned with that too. You're unique, you're original, there's no one like you, and there never will be. It's about embracing your essence, your soul, and it's being in the moment-the here and now-with clarity.
This is about how you exist and how you express yourself.
Now, if you have read Best Self: Be You, Only Better, then:
A. You are awesome, and I am so glad that you dug it enough to buy this book.
B. You are likely aware of the Best Self and Anti-Self exercises that were in the first two chapters. I want to recap those exercises briefly, because they are foundational to the work we're going to be doing together. Even if you've already done these exercises, I'd encourage you to refresh your memory just because they can be so helpful in connecting with your authentic self.
My goal is to work with you, the reader, the same way I would as a life coach; in fact, I often use these exact exercises with clients and in my own life simply because they are so helpful. (You should know that the exercises in this book are appropriate for any age and any walk of life.) I also recommend getting a journal so you have more space to write and a highlighter or a pen so you can mark this sucker up. With Best Self, I even had people tagging me online and sharing photos of sections in the book they highlighted. I love seeing that. You can do the same with this book!
I created the Best Self/Anti-Self exercises in Best Self to help you understand who you really are-the whole, authentic you that you bring to every area of your life. Just as it's important to identify those parts of you that you feel are most representative of who you are-your Best Self-it's also so important for you to be familiar with the parts of yourself that do not represent you operating at your best. In doing this exercise, you will be able to pinpoint the most authentic parts of yourself, which is an incredibly empowering process. It allows you to discover who you are at a very deep level, at your core. And, as we go forward in this book, it helps you act from that core place.
The idea of the Best Self and the Anti-Self was inspired by the metaphor of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. I wanted to explore that concept (and take it out of any religious context) because I think we can all relate to it and we've all seen ourselves behave in one extreme or the other. We often say or think, "I wasn't myself," or "I don't know why I did that," and that's typically when our Anti-Self is in charge. The Anti-Self exercise helps you identify thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that run contrary to your Best Self. It's an easy trap to fall into, to cling to our worst ideas about ourselves and assume that those are our truest selves. But they come from ego or fear, and they are not at all authentic to who we are. These negative perceptions are merely stories: they could have come from your childhood, how you've experienced hurt, pain, and fear, or from situations in life (emotional abuse, neglect, trauma) that created an outlook that takes away from who you truly are.
You do not have to go to the length of actually completing the Best Self/Anti-Self exercises, but I will give you an overview of them so you can understand the basic concepts. The Best Self exercise first has you take a step back and look at yourself from the outside. When we are being our Best Self, we feel aligned with life, and we feel we are "operating at our best." For me, I consider my Best Self to be very wise, grounded, creative, spiritual, optimistic, compassionate, fun, and clever. My Best Self is not thrown by anything; he's calm and secure. In Best Self, after we clearly defined the most authentic parts of ourselves, we created a drawing or image that represents our Best Self. Mine is a wizard named Merlin. I chose a wizard because, in my mind, wizards are creatively and powerfully brilliant. Merlin is representative of how I feel when I am aligned with who I really am. Merlin comes in incredibly handy when I need to live in faith, and when I am handling adversity. Connecting with Merlin helps me to be completely honest. I wish I could operate as Merlin all the time! But as we know, life is constantly moving and changing. In that, new stressors and challenges can throw us off, and our Anti-Self might even get triggered.
Even when life is going great, we still struggle from time to time with our ego, fear, anxiety, stress, depression, and anger. And while those are real struggles, they are not an authentic part of who we are. Those things happen to us, but they are not us. I'll also share with you that one of my Anti-Selves (because we all have more than one) is named Angelos, and he often arises from some form of fear. Sometimes it's a fear of failing, not being prepared, or having to face uncomfortable feelings. When Angelos is calling the shots, I find myself pushing people away. I do this because that part of me wants to be left alone, and in that state I find myself to be insufferable. I get stuck in the problem, I'm easily annoyed, and I become unenjoyable company, even to myself!
As you'll notice in this illustration, Angelos is a male witch. I chose a male witch because, like a wizard, this fictional character is typically capable of magic, but in Angelos's case he cannot cast any spells.
The process of creating our Anti-Self is powerful because it lets us add elements of humor to the parts of ourselves that we really don't like, and in so doing, we create new energy around them. How often do we look at parts of ourselves that we loathe but feel powerless to change them? We just assume that's "how we're wired," or we're "just like our parents," or we chalk it up to some other element over which we have no control. But when we create and flesh out our Anti-Self, we suddenly have a tool for bringing those elements of ourselves to life so that we can, in fact, control them. We are no longer slaves to our lesser qualities, falling prey to self-sabotaging behavior. Instead, we make a caricature out of those elements, giving us a new level of awareness and even power over them, an ability to view them with renewed objectivity, and thus an ability to quell those tendencies and choose to let our Best Self take over.
Here's the key, and the reason Best Self/Anti-Self is so fundamental to how we take action to improve our lives: our Best Self is able to perceive opportunities where our Anti-Self sees only obstacles. Those are universal qualities to all Best Selves and Anti-Selves. When we are being our Best Self, we believe that no matter how bad our external circumstances are, there are still opportunities available to us. When we are being our Anti-Self, or in other words when we are being inauthentic, we focus on the problems and fail to see the possibilities for growth. This is also when we fight, flee, freeze, or appease, but when we are not actually in
You've Made Authentic Decisions Before
I think it's a good starting place to realize you've already made plenty of decisions as your Best Self. In the introduction, I shared with you some decisions I've made as my Best Self and the outcomes they created, so now let's take some time to look at past decisions that you believe were in your best interest, and that resulted in a positive outcome, so that you can begin to attribute this good decision-making quality to yourself.
Looking back across the span of your life up to this moment in time, think about three decisions you made that you'd categorize as decisions you made from your Best Self, decisions that you felt were aligned with who you are, even if only in retrospect. Maybe you decided to go to college and it opened up career opportunities to you. Perhaps you got married and you feel that was in your best interest. I'll pause here to say that even if a marriage ended, but you took something positive from it, you can still think of that as a good decision. Maybe you decided not to do something, and you're very happy you made that choice because it could've been harmful to you. When you really get into it, you might discover there are thousands of decisions you've made that have led you toward a better life, and if you'd like to write more than three, by all means please do!
When you become aware of, and take credit for, these authentic decisions you have made in the past, you tell your brain that you are able to make decisions as your Best Self. For some, perhaps it's about choosing integrity over money. For others, it could be choosing to go to therapy instead of ignoring festering emotional issues. Maybe you've decided not to sell yourself short in some situation. It could be that you made the decision to get sober or help someone else get sober. Maybe it was marrying someone, or maybe it was divorcing someone. The point is, let's charge up your decision-making battery by recognizing that you are capable of making life choices that have been in your own best interest.
My Better Life Decisions Thus Far:
If you're being honest with yourself about your better life decisions above, it is likely you can look at this list and feel proud. A list like this helps us feel better because we can see the truth of what we have chosen that has led to a better life. Consider all the positive ripples of change that came from each of these decisions; it's tremendous! That's because when you made them, you were aligned with your values, and you generated positive change in your life.