Get Off the Fence!: The 10 + 1 Steps to Help You Make That Big Decision

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9780757300516: Get Off the Fence!: The 10 + 1 Steps to Help You Make That Big Decision

It's easy enough to tell ourselves "Don't sweat the small stuff," but let's get real-it's not all "small stuff."Sometimes we have to face tough decisions. Should we move to a different city? Get a divorce? Change religions? Terminate life support? Quit our jobs? Have children? Get Off the Fence! covers all of these life-transforming decisions, and much more.

This is not an ivory tower textbook on decision theory-it's a step-by-step handbook for guiding people through the process of making difficult choices. Mother/son authors Rhoda and Jeffrey Makoff bring years of personal and professional experience to the table-they have made hundreds of "big decisions"in their successful careers and counseled thousands of people through difficult choices. The Makoffs present ten steps to effective decision-making, but they also recognize another essential component-the role of emotional issues in making the best decision possible. This crucial eleventh step is where the "gut," "heart" or intuition comes in. Get Off the Fence! also includes fascinating stories about people who have made major life decisions.

Get Off the Fence! will help people take control of complex situations instead of feeling helpless and paralyzed by indecision. It will prevent them from making poor decisions that create a lifetime of regrets and self-recrimination.

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About the Author:

Rhoda Makoff, Ph.D., a biochemist by training, cofounded Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, a leading Los Angeles preparatory school. At forty-five, Dr. Makoff started her own successful pharmaceutical company and, seventeen years later, sold it to a New York Stock Exchange company. Jeffrey Makoff, Esq., has practiced law for over fifteen years and is the chairman and chief executive officer of Poetic Media, Inc., a media production company, and DigitalCustom Group, Inc., an international digital art business.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

 

Get Fired Up: The Good News Is That You Have a Choice

This book is about how to make Big Decisions. People often talk about Big Decisions in a negative way as “agonizing choices,” “painful dilemmas,” “serious problems” and, of course, “pickles.” We all know somebody who has tossed and turned, maybe for years, over a major choice. Perhaps you have. Perhaps you are doing so right now. Big Decisions are associated with anxiety, fear, depression, frustration, pain, obsession and that unpleasant set of feelings called “pressure.” Big personal decisions relate to dramatic and important life events: love and marriage, childbirth, child rearing, health, education, work, finances and death. Major business decisions often involve the birth, survival or death of an enterprise, the decision-maker’s reputation or lots of money.

Some people are skilled at evading Big Decisions. Nobody escapes all of them forever. If you’re serious about improving your life, whether through career advancement, resolving a specific personal or business problem, or “changing your life direction,” you must be able to identify and make difficult choices. Before we introduce you to the 10+1 Steps to help you make those Big Decisions, we’ll use the first chapter to put your decisions in context. The message is that your difficult choices define your life—past, present and future. Fearing a choice that will define your life is a natural response. Nonetheless, your first decision must be to challenge your fears and go confidently forward to make any Big Decision that you face.

Big Decisions Come from Your Freedom to Make a Choice

To improve your life, you must embrace your freedom to make choices. All of your Big Decisions emanate from the freedom to choose, even when you’re forced to select between “bad” options. When a situation’s outcome is certain, you deal with it. If the outcome is bad, you cope. Coping is not big decision-making. Coping is how you adapt to something that you can’t change much. This book shows you how to make choices that will bring about change, not how to adapt to what can’t be changed.

So much for abstractions. Let’s look at how choices lead to some typical Big Decisions that you, a friend or a family member may face.

Marriage. In vast parts of the world, marriages are arranged by the parents of the bride and groom (sometimes with a professional matchmaker’s assistance). Arranged marriage is still practiced in parts of Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. The basis for the arrangement is not love, but rather social compatibility, sometimes dowry (property exchanged for a daughter’s hand) or other factors that the parents deem important. In some cases, the couple meet for the first time on, or close to, their wedding day. In the United States, Western Europe, and other parts of Asia and Africa, we have “love marriages” (to use the terminology of arranged-
marriage societies). With the freedom of love marriages comes the burden to find a person to love, to figure out whether we love that person enough to marry him or her, and to decide what to do if we no longer are compatible with that person. Knowing that millions of people in the world participate in arranged marriages doesn’t make decisions about marriage any easier. Hard choices often flow from the freedom we’re given to succeed or fail based on our own judgments.

Illness. In 1937, actress Jean Harlow died from a kidney condition at the age of twenty-six. Her death not only was premature, but it was horrifyingly gruesome. While on the set of her last film, Saratoga with Clark Gable, Harlow reportedly began to puff up and smell of the waste that her failing kidneys could not process. After Harlow was hospitalized, according to David Stenn’s account in Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Harlow, her friends and family watched helplessly and prayed for a miracle as Harlow deteriorated. Clinically successful artificial kidney machines were not invented until the 1940s, and they were not in general use until the 1960s. The first successful U.S. kidney transplant took place in 1954. Today, a kidney-disease patient (and his or her family) has a host of treatment decisions to make—over the decades that the kidney-disease patient is expected to survive after the diagnosis. The same is true of cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and countless other serious illnesses.

Career. Nothing has changed more over the past two hundred years than how we make a living. In the early 1800s, most Americans and Europeans farmed at the subsistence level or engaged in local agriculture-related services or trade. By 1900, farmers made up around 35 percent of the U.S. labor force. A devastating drought forced millions of people to abandon their farms in the 1930s and relocate their lives and livelihoods to other parts of the United States (especially the West). In the twenty-first century, most Americans and Western Europeans have nonagricultural jobs, primarily in the industrial and service sectors. While the weather has minimal impact on careers, individual career decisions have a huge impact. The freedom to manage a career is a great gift, and it carries the burden of sometimes difficult career decisions.

Business. The nearly worldwide free-enterprise system offers a huge palette of business opportunities: large and small, corporate and entrepreneurial, manufacturing and service, local and international, new and mature, profit-driven and nonprofit. Business is more competitive, faster, potentially more lucrative and complex than ever before. Some managers master and benefit directly from the factors that make contemporary business so demanding. Others do not meet the challenges and fall by the wayside. The most valuable asset in business today is a management team or manager who has excellent judgment. A manager who merely toes the line and can’t exercise sound judgment adds little to an enterprise.

Keep in mind the ultimate source of your Big Decisions: You’re alive, and you have choices. General Omar N. Bradley, who led the D-Day invasion of Normandy that marked the turning point of World War II in Europe, said, “This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: We are given one life, and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind or whether to act and, in acting, to live.” By seizing an active role in your own major decisions, you affirm your values and control your destiny. Important decisions begin with your freedom and power to choose. Be glad you have that discretion. Hold onto it and learn to use it wisely.

¬2003. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Get Off The Fence by Rhoda Makoff and Jeffrey Makoff. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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