Why would I select such a simple word for this week’s Spectacular Vernacular? It’s the etymology that caught my attention.

Decide, of course, means “to arrive at a choice or solution which ends uncertainty or contention.” (Merriam-Webster)

Note the two distinct parts of that definition. First, a choice or solution must happen. Second, that ends uncertainty or contention. If doubt or cloudiness continues, a decision has not occurred.

The etymology makes this crystal clear. Decide comes from the Middle English deciden via the Middle French decider from the Latin decidereCidere derives from caedere, which means “to cut,” so decidere means “to cut off.”

So, while we often think of a decision as being made FOR something, it’s important to understand that also means we’ve chosen AGAINST something.

This came to mind as I was doing my annual goal setting and reading some related books (see below).

Every one has the same number of hours in every day. Some may have more freedom to decide what to do with that time than others, but the total remains fixed.

We erroneously say we’re going to “make” time to accomplish something, but we actually can only “take” time. Making, of course, implies we can create additional time, but that’s something we can’t do. To use time in one way, we must decide not to do something else. We have to cut it off.

Let’s say you’ve set a goal in 2023 to exercise for 30 minutes a day. Or practice the piano, read, write, or whatever your goal is.

Excellent, but have you decided what you’re going to stop doing? You don’t suddenly have thirty minutes more a day this year than last, so something has to cease.

Deciding what we’re going to stop doing is harder for most of us than identifying what we do want to do.

So, we’re a week into the New Year. As you focus on your goals, decide. Cut off. Stop something.

Then go for your new goal.

Books I mentioned:

Quit: The Power of Knowing When To Walk Away by Annie Duke

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll

These Amazon affiliate links pay me a small commission on purchases, but have no impact on your price. You are welcome to search for them at your favorite book store or your library.

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