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Before you do something worthwhile, there’s a moment.

In the moment before you go to the gym, you feel a sense of dread and try to come up with an excuse not to go.

In the moment before you try to help someone, you wonder if they will appreciate your efforts.

In the moment before you enrol in a course, you try to think of a reason not to do it.

In the moment before you order a salad, you inspect the menu to see if there’s something that looks more appetising.

In the moment before you pray, you think of all the other things that you need to do.

In the moment before you post a blog or share your opinion with the world, you wonder if anyone will disagree with you or even care.

And in that moment you have a critical choice.

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We live in a world that presents us with a myriad of choices.

When you go to buy a new pair of pants, you have dozens of options from which to choose.

When you look for a restaurant to eat from, search for a new career or have to make a decision regarding which school your kids will attend, you have dozens of options from which to choose.

Which choice do you make?

And what if you make the wrong choice?

We’ve all had buyer’s remorse.

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When we have a big decision to make, we often turn to the old reliable pros and cons list.

The idea is that you get a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and then list the positives of the decision on one side and the negatives on the other.

The side with the longest list of reasons wins.  Decision made.

However, what if one list is longer, but trivial and the other is shorter, but more compelling?

What if you have a big career decision to make and the multiple advantages of money, prestige, future possibilities and recognition compete with the sole negative of spending a lot of time away from your wife and young family?

Here’s my idea:

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At half-time of the 1989 AFL Grand Final the Hawthorn coach, the late Allan “Yabby” Jeans, looked around the rooms and saw a team in a lot of pain.

Although they were leading by 37 points, there were multiple injured players after a tough and spiteful first half against Geelong.

Yabby looked his players in the eye and told them this story:

A young boy went into a shoe store to buy a pair of shoes.

He had a choice between buying a cheap pair or an expensive pair.

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In the 2011 NBA Draft, Marquette’s Jimmy Butler was selected with pick 30 by the Chicago Bulls.

Whilst that’s the starting point for what will hopefully become a successful professional career, it all could have turned out very differently.

Without a father from an early age, Jimmy was kicked out of home by his own mother at the age of 13.  Her last words to him were, “I don’t like the look of you.  You gotta go.”

After moving from house to house, with no money, no parents and no support structure, he was eventually taken in by the Leslie family who already had 7 children of their own, but generously opened their home and hearts to Jimmy in his senior year of high school.

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I came across the phrase “White Collar Prison” a few weeks ago and it really resonated.

It describes a workplace where people go to the office everyday with their feet shuffling and their shoulders slumped, dreading another day of responding to endless emails and attending boring, unimaginative meetings.  People trapped in the white collar prison do meaningless work with no passion, but they put up with it because they need to work and they’re just grateful to have a job.

They feel trapped and they say to themselves that there’s no way out, so they tolerate the drudgery and suppress their dreams.

We spend so much of our lives at work that it would be a shame to have it feel like you’re in prison.

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There are two kinds of failure.

There is the failure that takes place when you try something new and don’t quite get it right.  Or you take a risk to achieve great things and it doesn’t work out the first time.

And then there is the kind of Failure that takes place when you don’t try, don’t learn, don’t aspire, don’t work, don’t take risks and may I suggest, don’t live.  When you reflect back on your life and have nothing to show for it.

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The average person will spend 100,000 hours at work over the course of their career.

That’s far too long to spend doing something that you hate.

It may be the boss, the hours, the location, the money or the actual work itself.  It doesn’t really matter.

What matters is what you’re going to do about it.

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There are times in life when things seem to get on top of us.  When chaos reigns and circumstances seem to conspire against us.

During these stages in life, it can be very easy to fall into a victim mentality, to think that there’s nothing that you can do and that you’re destined to be unhappy.

Here are a few tips that I’ve used to halt that mindset and become optimistic and resourceful again:

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There are lots of reasons not to eat right and exercise.

There are lots of reasons not to read or improve my intellect in any way.

There are lots of reasons not to do anything about those in need, both in this country and abroad.

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