How to know the right thing to do in every moment

In some situations in life, the right thing to do is very clear.

  • You don’t stab someone with a knife because of the colour of the shoes they wear
  • You don’t pour toxic waste into the stream behind your house that the locals down river use as their drinking water
  • You don’t dangle your naked body parts over an open fire

But there are other parts where it’s not so clear…

  • Should you approach that cute girl in the food court whilst she’s eating her lunch, even though she looks engrossed in her book?
  • Should you speak up when your boss says something you know to be clearly wrong and potentially damaging to the company, even though you know she doesn’t like criticism?
  • Should you intervene when you see someone getting treated unfairly but you think you might get hurt if you do?

So how do you know what the right thing to do is? How do you know how to act and how to respond to the millions of different situations you could find yourself in in any moment?

Luckily for you, there’s an easy way to tell: you start with the end in mind and work backwards.

The secret to knowing exactly what to do in every moment is to ask yourself this one question:

“What kind of world do I want to live in and what do I need to do right now to move closer to it?”

It’s one simple question but it will give you the right answer every time. Why? Because it will tell you what’s important to you, what you really believe to be true (despite what you’ve been told or the fears you have) and how you believe you should act right now.

Should you approach that cute girl in the food court whilst she’s eating her lunch, even though she looks engrossed in her book?

Well, what kind of world do you want to live in and what do you need to do right now to move closer to it?

  • Do you want to live in a world where people hide from their fears or face them courageously? What do you need to do right now to move closer to it?
  • Do you want to live in a world where people freely and easily connect with those around them or where people intentionally isolate themselves behind ‘social politeness’? What do you need to do right now to move closer to it?
  • Do you want to live in a world where you consciously choose who you fill your life with or one where you accept those who accidentally stumble into your circle? What do you need to do right now to move closer to it?

Should you speak up when your boss says something you know to be clearly wrong and potentially damaging to the company, even though you know she doesn’t like criticism?

Well, what kind of world do you want to live in and what do you need to do right now to move closer to it?

  • Do you want to live in a world where people stop others from making mistakes that could cost them dearly or one where they stand by and let them dig their own grave? What do you need to do right now to move closer to it?
  • Do you want to live in a world where people do what they know is right, despite how others might perceive it or where they let the insecurities and opinions of others stop them from doing what they think is right? What do you need to do right now to move closer to it?

Should you intervene when you see someone getting treated unfairly but you think you might get hurt if you do?

Well, what kind of world do you want to live in and what do you need to do right now to move closer to it?

  • Do you want to live in a world where people stand up for what they believe in or where they tolerate injustice? What do you need to do right now to move closer to it?
  • Do you want to live in a world where people do what they believe to be right, despite the possibility of pain or a world where they use the possibility of discomfort as a reason to take no action? What do you need to do right now to move closer to it?

One simple question that changes everything:

“What kind of world do I want to live in and what do I need to do right now to move closer to it?” 

There is one big hole in this method though: what if you don’t know what kind of world you want to live in?

That’s a good question. Luckily for you, there’s an exercise for that:

 

 

EXERCISE: Your One Perfect Day (The kind of world you want to live in)

If you’re anything like most people, the life that you’ve imagined for yourself changes not only day to day, but hour to hour, and even minute to minute.

One moment, you might crave a life filled with great friends all sitting around the open fire roasting beautiful food and laughing at old stories. In another moment, you might crave a life filled with exciting adventures over unexplored continents. In another moment, you might crave a life where you’re getting things done whilst making a serious and sizeable contribution to the world.

So what do you really want? The real answer lies somewhere in the middle of all of them…

If you lived an average lifespan, depending on your age, you’ll have between 5,000 and 18,000 days left on this earth. 

Each one of those days will be filled with many different adventures, people, experiences, and events and on each one of those days, you’re going to have different problems, different frustrations, and therefore, different desires.

Working out what kind of life you want to live doesn’t involve trying to cram all the different extremes into one day, it involves averaging all those extremes out so that you get a taste of all of it every day without your day being dominated by one element.

So, your exercise for today is to tell the story of what an average, run-of-the-mill day would look like in your dream future, that encompasses small parts of everything you want.

Start from the very first moment you wake up and write out every single detail of your average perfect day.

The details you need to include can be broken into three major sections that you can work through one at at time.

 

Element 1: Physical Elements

The physical elements are the what, when, who, why and how of the day.

  • Where do you wake up?
  • Why do you wake up then?
  • What do you wear?
  • Who do you wake up next to?
  • What do you do next?
  • What do you eat for breakfast?
  • Who do you eat your breakfast with?
  • Who do you spend your time with?
  • What do you do with them?
  • How much time do you spend working?
  • What do you do when you finished work?

Start by writing out the physical elements of your One Perfect Day.

 

Element 2: Engagement

Engagement covers not what you did, but how you took on those tasks.

  • Do you wait for permission before you took action or do you do what you knew to be right?
  • Do you hold back because of what other people might have thought of you or do you push ahead with you goals and dreams?
  • Do you sit around waiting for people to give you what you wanted or do you go out and get it?
  • Do you care for and look after the things around you or do you use and destroy them?
  • Do you give your tasks 100% attention or do you let your mind wander off as you went through your day?
  • Were you planned and organised or did you let just allow yourself to flow with whatever was happening?
  • Do you challenge and push yourself to be better or do you coast by on your current skills?

Go back through the physical elements of your One Perfect Day and include how you engage the physical elements in your life.

 

Element 3: Relating

The relating element of your one perfect days covers how you interacted with the people around you.

  • Do you blame other people for your life situation or do you take responsibility for what you contributed?
  • Do you wait for others to open up to you or are you expressive and open?
  • Do you try and control other people or do you allow them to live their lives the way they see fit?
  • Do you put others down to feel better about yourself or do you lift them up so they feel better about themselves?
  • Do you really listen to what others are going through or do you just look for ways you can insert your story into the conversation?

Go back through the physical elements of your one perfect day and include how you relate to people throughout it.

 

Final tips

Don’t just write this out as a series of answers to these questions, go through your entire day from when you wake up to when you go to bed at night, and include all the details possible. Tell the story of your day.

Include as much information as you need to make this story feel real and important to you. Some people have written out more than 15 pages and some have written write out less than 5. The length isn’t important as long as it has all the detail that you need in it to understand what kind of world you want to create…

…because once you have that image, then you’ll know the right thing to do in every situation.

 

Bonus Activity:

Discovering what kind of life you want to live isn’t going to make any serious changes to your life by itself. The real changes will happen when you start to take action.

So, your bonus activity for today is to start taking action.

Your task is to live as much of your One Perfect Day as you can possibly do.

  • Change your breakfast
  • Change the people you hang out with
  • Change the way you dress
  • Change where you spend your time
  • Start looking for your dream job
  • Change how you spend your free time

But also focus on the really important stuff:

  • Change how you engage conversations
  • Change how expressive and open you are
  • Change how you relate to the people around you

Dedicate one day to changing the way you engage and relate to your life and see how much of a difference you can make when you take control.

The easiest way to do this is to wake up in the morning and create a list of things that you can do to take your world closer to your One Perfect Day and then start doing them now.

Don’t sit around thinking about it or wasting time doing things you don’t really enjoy but do out of habit. Simply take action.

It’s your life and you’re the only one who can change it. 


1 Reply to "How to know the right thing to do in every moment"

  • Mauricio
    June 26, 2014 (3:34 am)
    Reply

    In the guide sessions i cant coment , so im going to explain my question here.

    Leigh, when i dont know how is my current feeling in that moment. For example: im feeling bad, but im dont know whats that feeling is…whats can i do ? I didnt get that point.


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