By Mark E. Smith
I remember reading Romeo and Juliet in the 11th grade, thinking, This isn’t going to turn out well for these two young, star-crossed lovers! After all, nothing aligned for them, where even their families despised each other. And, I was right (insert 400-year-old spoiler alert here), as both end up dead.
Interestingly, Romeo and Juliet serves as a great metaphor toward how all of us should properly make life-changing decisions – albeit relationships, careers, health, and finances. Romeo and Juliet unquestionably loved each other, and many romantics for hundreds of years have wanted to believe that such love is enough. But, solely following such a single-minded view rarely turns out well. After all, Romeo demonstrated such impulsiveness that it resulted in Mercutio’s death and the ultimate double suicide. Lots of people want lots of things – including true love with the one who he or she is drawn toward – but wanting doesn’t make for good decision making. So, whether we’re in a relationship, handling finances, or making career moves, how do we know we’re truly making the right decision instead of simply following impulses?
In my life, I’ve evolved a very simple formula for making decisions, and I apply that formula especially toward the major decisions in my life. It’s a single question that must have a yes answer, or I won’t move forward: Is this healthy and will it prove successful? If the answers can be demonstrated as yes-yes, it’s a petty safe bet. If the answers are no-no, yes-no or no-yes, then it’s a poor decision. The literal answer must be, This decision will prove both healthy and successful.
Think back to Romeo and Juliet. If they’d simply asked, Is this relationship proving both healthy and successful, no one would have died, as the insanity of the situation would have been seen! Asking ourselves that simple question – is this decision both healthy and successful – will virtually always steer us in the right direction.
Now, I haven’t always been the best at doing what’s both healthy and successful – that is, I’ve learned this tool through the School of Hard Knocks. If you think you’ve done dumb, I’ve done dumber. Yet, every time I’ve applied the question of, Is this both healthy and successful, to my life, it’s proved exactly that – healthy and successful! In 2009, when the “mortgage crisis” hit, devastating countless hard-working, well-meaning Americans, I wasn’t one of them. However, I could have been. See, when I built my home – the most modest in my development – every so-called financial expert advised me that I should have assumed a very large mortgage and built a much larger home. After all, your home is your best investment, right?
Wrong. The best investment is one that’s both healthy and successful – and there’s only one right answer. If I had taken the suggested mortgage, it would have added stress to my life and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. There’s nothing healthy or successful about that! To the contrary, I stayed debt-free, where when the mortgage crisis hit, I had no mortgage, and rather than putting money in a bank’s pocket, it stayed in mine. No stress and preserved income – that’s both healthy and successful.
I likewise have been applying this vital tool toward decisions of the heart. Unlike Romeo, I’ve not followed impulses lately, but have been striving to better recognize what creates a life-changing relationship, and the answer is, it has to be both healthy and successful on every level. Love between two people isn’t a vacuum. Rather, it not only directly effects their emotions, but also their children, extended families, careers and finances, to name a few. In this way, I’ve felt increasing satisfaction in my life by ensuring that my romantic life builds health and success on all levels. It’s not hard to feel happy in love, but by ensuring that all is healthy and successful – especially in building a future together – is a great way to gain perspective and get it right.
Every day we face decisions, and making the right decision is often the difference between health and success or misery and failure. Simplify the process by resisting impulses and avoiding sketchy thinking by living to the rule of making decisions based on, Is it both healthy and successful? If so, that’s a winner!