A tremendous life is built on tremendous decisions. These life decisions have an integrative effect; the choices we make open or close the doors to other opportunities and future possibilities. So we need to make these cornerstone decisions well to build as solid a foundation as possible. We need to make these critical decisions the right way. My father said, “Decision making is a fact of life, just like breathing. That’s what decision making really is.” The key to making the right decisions in life is to make a decision, make it yours, and die by it. Getting these decisions right doesn't necessarily make life more manageable, but it does make it more real, and that's what it's all about.
Each day we are bombarded with seemingly endless streams of choices, a nonstop barrage of options that we must weigh and consider. What should I wear today? Should I pack a sandwich for lunch or go out for sushi? Should I treat the kids to a movie, or should I make them earn it? Should we do the laundry today or put it off till tomorrow? Should I finish reading this book, or should I waste an hour surfing the web? OK, OK, that last one was a gimme. When it comes down to it, though, most of the decisions we make on a day-to-day basis are trivial. How many choices will you make today that will have a measurable impact on your life next week? Or a year from now? Ten years from now?
Charlie Jones believed that, when we clear away the clutter that fills our daily existence, we’ll find that there are only three decisions that will determine the course of each of our lives:
- Who will I live my life with?
- What will I live my life doing?
- What will I live my life for?
Many of us have been through several iterations of these three decisions. I know I have. But my father would say that the initial decisions I made in love and vocation were not real decisions because I had not committed to them with my life. I made years of excuses in response to this tough truth, but he was right. I wasn't "all in" in any of these areas; and until I landed and planted my flag, I would be like a rolling stone drifting along in search of greener pastures for the rest of my earthly days.
Charlie was passionate about these three decisions, feeling that they were of such crucial importance that he often wove discussions of them into his speeches and writings. This life-changing classic is the transcription of a live presentation delivered to an unknown audience somewhere around 1967. The only time we know of that, he spoke solely about the three decisions to the exclusion of all other topics. Sadly, the audio recording has long since vanished, but the written record survives, likely the nucleus of a planned project that never came to fruition in Charlie’s lifetime. We are grateful for the opportunity to publish it and bring it to you.
In these pages, Charlie's voice resonates across the decades, retaining all of its legendary vigor and enthusiasm, delivering a message that is more vital today than ever before. So settle in, turn the page, and, as Charlie himself would say, “Let’s get to work!”
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