EZINE 7, January 2013
FORK IN THE ROAD
Mastering the Art of Decision Making
By Otto Engelberth
Perhaps you have heard the famous saying that is attributed to Yogi Berra, "When you come to the fork in the road, take it." It turns out that he was giving a person direction to his house, so taking the wrong road would not be a big deal.
But that's not the way it is with our life's journey. We have many "forks in our road" where we have to make decisions that we act on. Our decisions usually don't stand alone, rather most of the time, they affect our future decisions. To add further complexity, in life, we are actually on several journeys at the same time, and on occasion these journeys impact each other. Examples of multiple parallel journeys we may be on could include:
Each of these journeys involves multiple decisions with each decision impacting future decisions and occasionally the decisions of the other journeys we are on.
So at any point in time, where we are in life has a lot to do with all of the accumulated decisions that we have made. If you are like most of us, you probably haven't given much thought to the process of decision making. Typically, we don't dwell on our decisions, except when we make a dumb one. Then we say to ourselves, "That was a dumb decision; why did I do that?"
About now, you may be thinking that you would like to learn how to make better decisions but don't know where to start. My goal, in writing this paper, is to help you become a better decision maker by sharing the lessons I've learned living 73 years of life (For more on that go to OttoEngelberth.com) and the research that I've done on the subject of decision making.
The first step we need to take to become a better decision maker is to know how our mind works. After all, it is the part of our body that is doing the deciding.
The Basics of How Our Mind Works.
Our human mind has been described as one of the natural wonders of the Universe. By the time we are born, it has already been programmed to operate our body's systems and monitor our five senses; sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. It is prewired to want to communicate with the outside world and is capable of recognizing emotional responses that are going on around us.
As we mature, our mind accumulates a lot of information and the skills needed to use that information. In addition, we integrate our sensual hormones into our thinking process adding an emotional flavor to our thinking.
You've probably noticed that you have a part of your thinking process that you are aware of and another part that just happens beyond your awareness. For the purposes of this discussion, we will refer to the thinking process that we aware of as our "analytical mind" and the thinking process that we are not aware of as our "Heart" (not to be confused with the pump).
The reason our Heart is designed this way is because our very survival depends on its ability to think quickly, and that type of thinking can only be done beyond our awareness. This is because we are multi-tasking in a big way.
The Heart is monitoring and interpreting all of the inputs from our five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. It is deciding which information to keep, which to act on, and which memories to access. While it is doing all this, it is also controlling and directing all of our body's systems, releasing hormones, as well as formulating our communications and actions.
At this point you probably would agree that there is a lot going on in our thinking process. In fact, experts tell us that we think between 15,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. If that is true, it works out to a range of 20 to 80 thoughts per minute! Most of this happens in our Heart without us being aware that these thoughts are happening.
One exception being when we dream; we experience random thoughts generated by the Heart. And these random thoughts also pop up when we try to concentrate or focus our thinking. Perhaps you have experienced these distractions when listening to a lecture, shooting a basketball foul shot in competition, or hitting a golf tee shot with your friends watching.
Occasionally we give direction to our Heart. We do this by requesting information or a solution to a problem. But contrary to what you may believe, we really don't directly control our Heart because we can't monitor its thinking processes. All that we are aware of are its outputs.
The best we can do is to exert influence on it in three ways. First, we can do this by controlling the information and experiences that make up the data bank our mind uses to create its thoughts. Secondly, we can alter its programming that influences the decision making process. And third, we influence our Heart's thought process by establishing a goal or vision that our Heart agrees with because it reinforces our life's purpose.
Life's purpose! Ah yes, whether we are aware of it or not, each of us has our life's purpose imbedded in our Heart. Most of us are not aware of our life's purpose because we have never examined why we do the things we do.
We do have a thinking process that we are aware of and can direct. I call it our analytical mind. We use this part of our mind to monitor the output of our Heart and to work on problems that require our accessing information that is outside our memory base.
However, our analytical mind does only a very small part of our thinking because it can't multi-task and it is inherently lazy. It only does the minimum that it thinks it can get away with. And finally, it tends to think logically rather than with the emotions that are characteristic of our Heart.
Mysteries of the Heart
While we can't monitor our Heart's thinking process, we do know that its output is influenced by "mental programming", some of which we were born with and some that we've acquired since birth. (Please excuse my use of the term "mental programming". I chose the term because most of us are familiar with computer programming and there is a similarity between our computer and our Heart, in that, we are not seeing the process but only the output.)
The reason that we need to know about these programming influences on our Heart's thinking processes is because they do bias the "gut" and intuitive decisions that we make with our Heart. And some of these biases can cause us to make poor decisions. So let's look at some of these influences on our Heart's decisions.
Our Conscience causes guilt that impacts our decisions
The Bible says that, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden apple from the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil", they gained the knowledge of good and evil. This resulted in them experiencing guilt when they violated those rules.
Perhaps this is a reference to the rules (our conscience) that each of us has imbedded in our Heart. For most of us these include: Don't kill people, don't steal, don't covet, families stick together, help others who are in need, etc. Some of these may be hard-wired in before our birth, others taught to us as we are growing up, and others are adopted as a result of life-changing experiences that we have had.
In any case, we experience guilt when we violate our embedded rules. Guilt is interesting in that it does not go away by itself. Since guilt does not go away, it tends to accumulate. And when it accumulates, guilt becomes like "sand in the gears" of our Heart's thinking process and can bias the decisions that we make.
Our Identity causes us to want to identify with a larger context for our lives
When we think about who we are, most of us don't think of our body. We think the presence that resides in our Heart. Some have called it our spirit, and others have called it our soul, because they have the sense that our identity has an eternal existence.
For many of us, our awareness of self in this way causes us to search for a larger context for our lives. For some, this involves committing to an organization or cause, such as a sports team, social group or a cause like eliminating global warming. For others, the larger cause is to live their life in the context of a supreme being like the creator and sustainer of the universe.
So it follows that we need to be aware that the larger context that we choose to live in influences and biases the decision we make.
Unseen Influences on our thinking impact our decisions
Occasionally, we become aware of thoughts that are not associated with anything that we have experienced in our past. In other words, these thoughts seem to come from a source outside of our mind. In many cases, these thoughts come to our attention because they don't reflect what we perceive as our character. The most notable are thoughts that we would categorize as temptations to do things that are evil.
While there is disagreement on whether there are such things as spiritual influences on our Heart's thinking processes, there is certainly is a lot of evidence that many people believe that they do exist. This belief is evidenced by the number of people who committed to religions that are based on that belief. Additionally, Hollywood finds that there is a demand among movie goers for movies dealing with evil and evil spirits. So we would assume that viewers find this paradigm explains what they see and experience in their lives.
Given the high probability that these outside spiritual influences on our Heart's thinking processes do exist, it makes sense to be aware that they do add a potential bias in our decision making process.
Belief begins in our Heart
For our Heart, belief always precedes the decisions that it makes. In fact all of our beliefs have their beginnings in our Heart and are confirmed by our analytical minds.
When I first read this I was blown away. It explained why I had been unsuccessful in convincing people to come to an actionable belief by using logic that appealed to their logic-driven analytical mind.
Perhaps the mystery surrounding belief has to do with how the Heart determines when it has enough information to establish a belief. We just don't know because we can't monitor its thinking process.
Multiple personalities can impact our decisions
You may have heard about the mental condition called Multiple Personality Disorder. This is a mental condition where a person sometimes has as many as seven unique personalities. Fortunately, this condition is not too common because people who suffer from this condition find it to be very frustrating because each of their personalities can have unique memories, identities, and voices.
My reason for mentioning this is to show that our minds are capable of developing more than one personality. Perhaps you've noticed how some people exhibit different personalities when they shift from being a nice person to being a jerk in just a few seconds. Another thing that I've noticed is that some people can go from being normal to a fit of temper in an instant.
The point that I want to make is, if you have these changes in personality, be careful about making decisions while in one of these personality changes because each of these personalities has their own information base that influences the quality of decisions made.
The role that our emotions play in our Heart's decision making
Another influence in our Heart's decision making process is that it tends to be driven by emotion and feelings; these trigger the sensual hormones that I mentioned earlier.
Every day we make decisions that are emotionally driven. Marketers know this. That's why they are able to convince us to buy beverages by associating them with good times or get us to buy a car by appealing to our pride.
In fact, there are a lot of different emotions that come into play in our decision making process. Some of them are positive and some are negative. Those that fall into the positive category are love, joy, peace, forgiveness, friendship, freedom, generosity, hope, light, order, and thankfulness. Examples of negative emotions are hatred, greed, sadness, despair, fear, guilt, worry, anger, bondage, darkness, loneliness, chaos, and doubt.
The thing to keep in mind is that the decisions we make as the result of positive emotions are much more sustainable than those that are the result of negative emotions. A way to think of this principle is that we are drawn by the pleasure that we experience from acting on positive emotions. In contrast, a decision made as a result of a negative emotion usually results in us doing the minimum action necessary to avoid the pain caused by those negative emotions.
If you are an investor, you are probably familiar with the interplay of the emotions greed and fear. Fear causes us to freeze and not make the investments that we should, while our greed causes us to stay with an investment when we should be getting out. A way to offset these emotions is to use our analytical mind to set up decision making rules that override our fear and greed emotions.
Emotions that are particularly strong and can cause us to make irrational decisions are those related to sexual desires. I mention this because I've known a number of people whose lives have been totally derailed by decisions made during the heat of sexual emotion.
On the lighter side, I recall a conversation that I had with a guy who had eight children. I asked him if he thought much about the cost of providing for such a large family. He responded, "When I'm in bed with my wife I feel like I can support the whole world."
And finally, emotions that become addictive can lead to decisions that become compulsive and destructive. Examples of behaviors that fall into this category are excess food consumption, gambling, pornography, and substances like hard drugs and alcohol. Overcoming these types of addictions is really difficult because they are spawned and rewarded in our Heart.
How our life's purpose effects the decisions we make.
Earlier in this paper I stated that each of us have our life's purpose imbedded in our Heart. This may not be evident because most of us are not conscious of the purposes that are driving our lives. We only become aware of them when we find ourselves riding precariously through life's rapids on an out-of-control raft, and we ask ourselves "Why am I here? Why am I doing this?"
When we answer that question, we realize that we have adopted the purposes that were suggested to us by our parents, peers (Jones'), teachers, advertisers, Hollywood, or country; without giving it much thought.
In my case, I was 55 years old before I finally thought much about what purposes were driving my life. Economically, I had hit the wall. A development project that I was involved in was not working out financially. I found myself six million dollars in the hole with very little cash.
I hired a psychologist business coach to help me assess why I had got myself in this situation and what I needed to do to get through it. One day he asked me to describe for him what I envisioned as an optimal successful outcome for my situation. After I described it he said, "You know that's not going to happen." To which I responded, "If that's so, why did you ask me the question?" His answer was profound. He said, "The reason I asked you the question was to show you that you will never accomplish a goal unless you have an emotionally-compelling reason driving it; and your emotionally compelling reasons will come from your purpose in life. So for our next meeting, I want you to figure out why you are doing what you are doing."
Suppose someone gave you that assignment. How would you answer? Initially, I drew a blank. I had no clue. I had never thought about it before. In hindsight, the reason I didn't have a clue was because my driving purposes were imbedded in my Heart. That explains why my search led me to think about the feelings and emotions that I experienced from my various business endeavors.
What I discovered when I examined my feelings was that there was a combination of purposes that drove what I was doing. I enjoyed the challenge of taking risks. I enjoyed being a player in the community. I enjoyed creating and coaching an organization. I enjoyed the freedom of running my own show. I enjoyed the game.
I was surprised to find that I was not in it for the money. In fact, the thought of being rich made me uncomfortable. Clearly, this had to change, because without money, I could not play the game! The banks expected to be paid back. The insurers, who were bonding our work, expected us to be financially viable. Employees and venders expected to be paid, and customers expected to be served.
I also needed to erase the separation that had developed between my walk with God and my business life. To do this, I had to recognize that when I called God, "Lord," I was recognizing that God owned everything. Therefore, I had to be willing to accept the responsibility of being an effective steward of everything that God would entrust me with.
After I adjusted my purpose, God gave me a clear vision of what needed to be done, and brought the people and resources to me that were needed to make that vision a reality. In the end, what actually happened was better than the optimal outcome I had described to my business coach!
How We Can "Reprogram" Our Heart
Developing new habits
Most of us remember what it was like the first time we tried to drive a car. We found it to be difficult because we were making most of our driving decisions using our analytical mind which doesn't do multi-tasking well. However, after a couple months of practice it gets a lot easier because we are gradually doing most of our driving decisions with our multi-tasking Heart. In other words, for us driving has become a habit. So much so, that we now can daydream, listen to the radio, talk on the phone, and carry on a conversation with other passengers in the car while driving. (As a side note, this is why back seat drivers can cause accidents because they cause you to start driving with your single tasking analytical mind.)
The challenge we face in developing new habits is to be properly motivated. The reason that we need to be motivated is that experts tell us that we need to do something for at least twenty one days before it becomes habit and for many things that habit forming process may not be much fun.
Most of the time, we embark on the development of a new habit because of the consequence that we believe we will experience after we achieve our new habit. In other words, we use consequence of the new habit as a motivator to get us through the twenty-one "not much fun" days.
To help you choose effective consequence motivators, let's look at those we might consider when developing healthy life style habits. When developing a plan for making healthful living our habitual behavior, it is important to recognize that consequences do vary in their effect on our behavior.
Given this perspective, it is clear that the consequence of possible poor health may not be an effective motivator for developing healthy life style habits, because it is a consequence that is negative, future, and uncertain to happen.
So now that we know that possible poor health will not be an effective motivator, what would you think would work for you? Keep in mind that the consequence you choose needs to be positive, be certain to happen, and needs to happen immediately after the new habit is achieved. It doesn't necessarily need to be related to the habit. It just has to be important to you.
Connecting future decisions with specific consequences
Recently, I began the process of learning how to cook a meal. One part of this that was new to me was working around a hot oven. My Heart decided to adjust the rack so it directed my hand to grab the hot rack. As you would expect, the hot rack burned my finger. In that one experience, I experienced the reprogramming of my Heart. It no longer allowed me to grab the hot rack without using a pot holder.
While this example is simplistic, it represents the full range of accepted consequences that we use to impact our Heart's decision making process. These range from punishments for breaking the law to imagined embarrassments that we believe we will experience for certain actions that we may be considering.
Refiling our past experiences
It is a common thing for people to make decisions that appear to be counter to what they want to happen. We often refer to these decisions as being self-destructive. Often, the person making this type of decision has no clue as to why the decision was made.
In many cases, these decisions are being influenced by past experiences that are misapplied in our Heart's decision making process. An example might be the impact of a violent childhood experience that our mind has blocked out but still is being used by our mind's data base.
In these cases, the reprogramming process cannot be accomplished without the help of a qualified mental health professional who will help you become aware of these hidden influences and refile them in your memory bank.
Mastering the Art of Good Decision Making
By now you might be thinking that the Heart's decision making process is undependable because it is potentially distorted by the many biases that I described. Cheer up! Actually, it is good enough to have the analytical mind give the go ahead to over 95% of the decisions that are generated by it. But, just because our conscious mind gives the go ahead, it doesn't mean that the decision will be a good one.
So let's move on to the main purpose of this paper. And that is, learning how to become a better decision maker.
Every journey needs a destination
Perhaps you have noticed that some people live their lives just going in circles. They just seem to be floating along without accomplishing much, while there are others who seem to be focused and accomplishing a lot.
I suspect that you are in one of these two groups. But all of us can relate to the feelings of the "going in circles" group because we all have areas of our lives which that phrase describes.
In the beginning of this paper I discussed the multiple journeys that we could be on throughout our lives. Of course, being on a journey implies that we are on the move. The question that we need to ask ourselves is, "Do we know where we are going?" If we don't know, we will be living out the old saying, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." And that's the journey that goes around in circles.
Choosing a destination is a proactive process
Have you ever thought about whether you live your life reactively or proactively? If not, you should, because it has a lot to do with the quality of the decisions that you make.
My observation is that the best that those who live their life reactively achieve is mediocrity because they end up going in circles. In contrast, the "sky is the limit" for those who are proactive in pursuit of making well thought out emotionally-compelling visions happen. These outcomes differ because reactive people are simply reacting to what is happening while proactive people are making things happen according to their plan for achieving their vision.
So, why would you choose to be reactive rather than proactive? Probably because being reactive is a lot less work. It requires very little homework. There is no need to set goals, take risks, and be responsible for results.
On the other hand, being proactive takes a lot more effort because it requires that we use our analytical mind to develop a vision. Also, we need to develop a plan for making that vision a reality. This requires us to do research, take risks, possibly fail, and take ownership of the results. In the end, the effort is worth it, because our emotionally-compelling vision results in good decision making that ultimately makes that vision a reality.
Create destinations that engage our Hearts
Earlier, we discussed why it is important for us to know what purposes are driving us to do what we do. This is important because our purpose needs to support our getting to the destination we choose for our journey. If it doesn't, our embedded purpose will sabotage our reaching that destination.
As an example, I am reminded of a conversation with a father after the birth of his third child. He said, "I've finally figured it out. Life isn't just about me." He was saying that he discovered that his Heart's purpose had been that, life was all about him, and that needed to change if he was going to fulfill his vision of being a good husband to his wife, and father to his children.
You will notice that I have used the words "emotionally-compelling" to describe the type of visions that we need to create in order for them to be effective journey destinations. Why is that? Well, it's because our vision needs to engage our emotionally-driven Heart in order to be effective. And once our Heart buys into our vision, it will work on bringing that vision into reality, 24/7.
Overcoming Black Swan events
Another reason that our journeys need to be to be driven by an emotionally-compelling destination vision is to help us overcome the unforeseen events that could derail our journey. Without a strong vision we could easily get sidetracked and give up. However with a strong vision we react like the voice on our GPS that says "recalculating "when we miss a turn-off during an automobile trip. We adjust our plan for making that vision a reality and move on.
Examples of destinations that are vision driven
Now that we have covered the basics on how our Heart responds to an emotionally-compelling vision, let's move on to looking at the process that is involved in developing those visions for the various types of journeys that we might want to go on.
The journeys that we may choose to travel will probably fall into one of the following categories:
Since each of these categories is unique, we will look at how to develop an effective vision for each category.
Acquiring material property
This journey category is one that most of us have traveled. It includes acquiring such material things as, a car, home, camp, and boat, as well as investments and savings for retirement. Developing our vision of destinations for this category is fairly straight forward.
For example, the typical process for buying a car begins when we believe that we have a need to have one. That need could be to have transportation; however there may be other emotional factors that come into play, such as self image, enjoyment of driving, freedom to go places, and pride. These emotional factors are an important part of our vision because they contribute to the emotionally-compelling aspect of our vision that results in getting buy-in from our Heart.
The process that we go through to make our vision real includes things like checking out the car sites on the internet, going to automobile show rooms, reading brochures, talking with the salespersons, and test driving cars. All during this process we are noticing people looking at us driving the car and think about which color and features would support our vision. We engage all of our senses, feeling the upholstery, taking note of the new car smell, the sound of the motor and audio system, and the appearance of the car.
Once we get our Hearts to buy in to our vision, the vision will create the framework for the decisions that need to be made in order to make that vision a reality.
Acquiring a capability
Acquiring a capability involves gaining knowledge about that capability, and in many cases, the physical coordination that is also part of that capability. Some journeys that fall into this category are becoming skilled in sports, music, and the development of skills that are necessary to be effective in the work place.
Like buying a car, developing our emotionally-compelling vision for your capability destination requires that we do research that will help us to understand what that destination looks like as well as the road that needs to be traveled to get there. This includes talking with people who have already made the journey and examining the requirements of knowledge and skills required to become good at the capability. One additional thing that we need to do when researching for journeys in this category is to make a realistic evaluation of our mental and physical capabilities.
Visualizing our destinations for acquiring capabilities is different from that for acquiring material things. They are different because they are unique to what is important to each of us. For some it might be to be qualified to be part of a group, for others it might be to get a diploma or certificate, and for others it might be to be able to make enough money to live the lifestyle that they want. In any case, the vision needs to have an emotional aspect to it in order to get the buy-in of our Hearts. Things like the cheer of the crowd, or recognition of the people who are important to you.
Pursuing an experience
Included in this category of journeys are; travel to interesting destinations; attending sports events, concerts, and amusement parks; and participating in competitions. I won't spend much space to this journey category because these journeys are short and the destinations are usually pursued because we believe them to be fun.
The reason that this category is instructive is that, in many cases, we rely on other people to create the emotionally-compelling vision for us. It could be a family member, friend, or tour guide.
Achieving a relationship
This category is unique because it is complex. It is complex because it requires the willing cooperation of another person. Because of this complexity we usually just "wing it". However, there are some relationships that, because of their importance, need to be vision-driven.
The important relationships that come to mind are the leaders and associates in our work place that we spend five days per week with, as well as customers that we serve. Another is the relationship with the spouse that we plan to spend the rest of our life with. These are relationships that I call "keepers" because their failure represents such a high emotional and financial cost.
In my view, the most important of these is the relationship that will end up in marriage. In order to develop your vision of this relationship journey destination, the first thing you need to do, before you pursue a relationship, is take an honest inventory of yourself. What are your values? What is your purpose in life? What skills do you bring to a relationship that will support the husband and wife team? What do you need for your spouse to bring to the relationship? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Where do you want to live? What do you enjoy doing? Do you want to have children? These and other questions that you need to ask yourself.
The values question is very important because your values will be your guide for how you will react when things are not going well. If your and your spouses' values are not the same, it will be very difficult for you both to pull together in order to get through those tough times that are bound to come your way.
After completing your "self inventory", you can go ahead with developing your emotionally-compelling destination vision that will incorporate the information that you have compiled on yourself. Then when your Heart buys into your vision, it will be guided by that vision in the decisions that it makes in order to make your relationship destination vision a reality.
Being an effective leader
There are hundreds of books written on the subject of effective leadership. My goal in this section is limited to just one aspect of effective leadership. That is, how an effective leader develops an effective emotionally-compelling vision for their self as well as those whom they are leading.
This process is different from earlier categories. It's different because the emotionally- compelling destination vision of this category is shared with the people whom you are leading, as well as those who are serving your group, such as bankers, investors, and customers. What this means is that the leader needs to do their research on what would be emotionally compelling for all of these groups of people. What are their values? What are their needs? The key is to paint the picture of this vision so that all of them will see themselves in the picture and want to be a part of making it a reality.
Defining the context for our existence
So far, we've discussed how to create visions of journey destinations for acquiring material things, new capabilities, desired experiences, significant relationships, and effective leadership. In this category, we will discuss a journey destination vision that will create the context in which all of our life's journeys will take place.
In a way, this category gives vision and destination to our life's purpose that we discussed earlier. Since each of us has our own unique "life's purpose" imbedded in our heart, most of which, we may not even be aware of, I'll not attempt to show you how you can turn yours into a vision of your unique context for your existence. Instead, I will show you how I have developed the one that is presently driving my life. From that, you can get an idea of how you can develop yours.
For me, the development of the vision, that represents my present life's purpose, began over 65 years ago. That was when I made the decision to accept God's (the Creator and Sustainer of everything) plan for my life. As a 7 year old, I had only a sketchy idea of what that picture looked like. I knew that I was going to Heaven when I died. I knew that God's Holy Spirit dwelled in me, and that God's Son, Jesus, became a human being, died on the cross, came back to life, then ascended into heaven in order to make this possible. I knew all of this because I was taught these concepts form the time I was a toddler.
Looking back, I realize that I was just coasting along until I survived falling asleep while driving my car, and hitting a telephone pole going 70 MPH. The next morning I was visited in a small town hospital ward by my brother who had spent the morning getting my car hauled back to town. His comment was, "I'm sure glad that I knew that you were in the hospital, because, just looking at your car and the broken telephone pole, I would have guessed that you would be in the morgue."
For me, at the age of 24, that was a major wake-up call. The thought that I could have been on the next leg of my eternal journey, motivated me to want to learn as much as I could about what that would be like. Over the succeeding 50 years I've read the Bible through many times. In addition, I've read commentaries about the Bible and listened to over 1,800 sermons and classes.
Over time, the vision that represents my eternal destination has become so vivid for me that I felt lead to share it with others by writing about it. In 2010 I published a book titled," IS THERE A CREATOR – Why it matters what you believe". Next, I established a website that has two addresses, IsThereaCreator.com and OttoEngelberth.com.
The website has two purposes; the first is to describe the book and to introduce myself, and the second is to be a place where I can post, (under the EZINE tab), all of the articles that I have written on subjects ranging from healthcare reform to economics, this paper on decision making, and two others titled "So God, What's it All About?", both of which describe, in more detail, the compelling vision that is the subject of this section. These can be accessed by clicking on ( www.isthereacreator.com/ezine2.html and www.isthereacreator.com/ezine3.html ).
So what does the emotionally-compelling vision of my life's purpose look like? The short version starts with my becoming a citizen of the Kingdom of God 65 years ago. While I didn't fully understand it then, like citizenship in the U.S.A., citizenship in God's Kingdom also has guaranteed rights, benefits, and responsibilities. God gave these because He wanted me to know that He loves me and wants me to experience the joy and peace that the angels told the shepherds about at the time of Jesus' birth in a stable in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago.
The first benefit that I have is a continuous relationship with God. This relationship started when I invited God's Holy Spirit to dwell in my Heart and continues unbroken for the rest of my eternal existence. The benefits that are mine from this relationship are awesome:
Secondly, I am a new creature, in that, God has changed me. He has forgiven me of all of the wrong that I have and ever will commit. This means that God views me as being a perfect person because He sees Jesus' perfection instead of my imperfection. His Spirit, living in me, guides me in the renewal of my mind. He helps me resist the temptations to do wrong. And finally, after I die, I will eventually get a new body like the one that Jesus got after He arose from the grave.
Thirdly, I have responsibilities that come with being a citizen of the Kingdom of God. How I live my life needs to reflect God's presence in my life. My mind-set is that I am a steward of all that God gives me. This includes time, resources, and relationships.
Not only am I to love God, but also to love other people as much as I love myself. One expression of my love for others is to share the good news about citizenship in God's Kingdom.
And finally, my journey will not end. It is eternal. My life on earth in this body is just a blip on the screen of my existence. Included in my Kingdom journey is the use of a heavenly mansion that is located on a street that has gold paving, and being able to sing in the heavenly choir that assembles to sing praises to God and his Son Jesus. I also get to go on special assignments such as coming back to earth with Jesus when He returns to set up God's Kingdom on earth.
I look forward to meeting and getting a big hug from Jesus as well as getting to be with all of my fellow kingdom citizens who have gone ahead of me. Including people like Isaac Newton, Jesus' disciple John, the prophets Daniel and Isaiah, King David, Moses, and Abraham.
The vision for your life's purpose destination will be unique and probably will not have the details that mine does. After all, I've been fine-tuning mine for 50 years. I encourage you take a stab at developing your own vision because I am confident that you will never regret doing it. Somehow, putting it on paper will crystallize your thinking.