Decisive Moments — Small But Mightier Than You Might Think

Maryanne Pope
2 min readAug 24, 2022
Image by Harutmovsisyan on Pixabay

“Every day, there are a handful of moments that deliver an outsized impact. I refer to these little choices as decisive moments.”

~ James Clear, “Atomic Habits”

Decisive moments are often small, but they sure can pack a mighty punch in the long run.

What are decisive moments? They are all those seemingly minor, but potentially significant, decisions you make at the many tiny crossroads you come across throughout your typical day.

“The moment you decide between ordering takeout or cooking dinner. The moment you choose between driving your car or riding your bike. The moment you decide between starting your homework or grabbing the video game controller,” says “Atomic Habits” author, James Clear. “These choices are the fork in the road.”

Why do these small decisions matter so much?


“Decisive moments set the options available to your future self.”

– James Clear

The author gives this example to illustrate his point: “For instance, walking into a restaurant is a decisive moment because it determines what you’ll be eating for lunch. Technically, you are in control of what you order, but in a larger sense, you can only order an item if it is on the menu.”

“Your options are constrained by what’s available,” explains Clear. “They are shaped by our first choice.”

So, for me, one of the key challenges I am repeatedly facing in my typical workday is completing all the tasks on my list…that I know, based on experience, I can reasonably complete. After learning about the power of decisive moments, I realized that where I still seem to be struggling is with my first decisive moment of the day: the choice to finish my morning coffee/daydreaming session sooner — and get my butt into my home office and buckle down to work. Because once I am working, I’m an efficiency machine!

But if my workday starts too late, then I simply run out of time and don’t get my tasks completed. If this was just happening on occasion, then no big deal. But it’s not. It was starting to become the norm…and the cumulative impact of not getting all my tasks completed was showing…

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Maryanne Pope

Maryanne writes blogs, books, screenplays & play scripts. She is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions & Co-Founder of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund.