If there’s one think that you learn in Navy SEAL training it’s that decisions don’t just happen. You have to make a conscious choice to be someone who makes decisions. You have to decide to decide.

I know that sounds circular, but it’s the rock solid truth. Plenty of people go through their entire lives never really making decisions. Not big ones, anyway. Sure, they may decide what to watch on TV, or which socks to put on in the morning, what to major in at college, or which career path to go into. But even larger life choices are, for far too many people, decisions they more or less slide into, not out of any soul-shaking reflection and commitment, but more because it’s just what seems to come next. Maybe it’s what their parents did, or what an older sibling did, what the people around them expect them to do, or what their friends are doing. Perhaps what seemed like the most reasonable choice at the time.

For me, that’s not a life lived, or at least not a life lived fully. It’s not what my Navy SEAL training taught me, and it’s surely no way to master fear.

The first and most critical step in mastering fear — which is to say, mastering your life — is to make a decision that has its roots deep in your bones, deep in your character, deep in your soul. To do that, you have to choose to be the kind of person who makes decisions like that.

You have to decide to decide.

Long before I was a Navy SEAL, I learned this from my dad. At the time, I hated it.

My family lived in the mountains of British Columbia until I was eight years old. Then my dad decided it was time to pursue a dream he and my mom had which was to sail around the world. They bought a boat and sailed us down to Ventura, California. We lived aboard that boat for the next seven or eight years.

Living on a sailboat in California was somewhat like living in a trailer in Texas. As far as I was concerned, it was a great life. I would go surfing every morning before my classes started. At school, I was “the boat kid.” My first real job was working as crew on that dive boat at the age of 12. It was an incredible experience, and I loved it. By age 15 I was living a fantastic lifestyle, making good money on the boat, selling lobster I had caught to my restaurant owner friends (probably illegally), and looking forward to turning 16, getting my driver’s license, and chasing girls.