Photo: George Burns
Nothing happens until you decide. Years ago on my show, a young mother shared her frustration with getting her son to go to bed. Her son was 3 and ruling the house. He wanted to sleep in her bed and refused to lie down in his own. The more the mother insisted, the more the child resisted—yelling, screaming, and literally dropping from exhaustion.
We showed a tape of the two of them wrestling it out. When our expert, Dr. Stanley Turecki, finished watching, he said something that made the hairs on my arm stand up: "Nothing happens until you decide." The reason her 3-year-old didn't sleep in his own bed was that the mother had not decided it would happen. When she did, the child would go to his bed. He might cry and scream and rant until he fell asleep, but he would eventually realize that his mother had made up her mind.
Well, I knew he was speaking about a 3-year-old, but I also knew for sure that this brilliant piece of advice applied to many other aspects of life: Relationships. Career moves. Weight issues. Everything depends on your decisions.
For years I was stuck in a weight trap, yo-yoing up and down the scale. I made a decision two years ago to stop wishing, praying, and wanting, wanting, wanting to be better. Instead I figured out what it would really take to improve my life. Then I decided to do it.
When you don't know what to do, my best advice is to do nothing until clarity comes. Getting still, being able to hear your own voice and not the voices of the world, quickens clarity. Once you decide what you want, you make a commitment to that decision. One of my favorite quotes is from mountaineer W.H. Murray:
"Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. / Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
Make a decision, and watch your life move forward.
What Oprah Knows for Sure
From the September 2005 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!