People make decisions every moment. Some have pleasant consequences, some not so pleasant. Some are even life-changing.
There is also a belief that your day can be determined by what side of the bed you get out of in the morning.
Superstition aside, whether you believe that or not, there are some easier ways to help you make the best decision with the available information you have.
In my work, I see people struggling with making decisions everyday that affect the choices they make. Many are frozen with fears, and delay or put off decisions which could be making a big, positive impact in their lives.
Using methods which draw on the latest research in neuroscience, and holistic thinking, these techniques can help you to make a better quality decision with greater peace of mind.
Here are three ways to help you make effective choices when you’re stuck to make a decision:
1. The YES or NO system of questions:
If it’s a go or no go decision, author of Yes or No: The Guide to Better Decisions, Spencer Johnson, suggests you ask three practical questions:
Am I pursuing the real need?
Am I informed of my options?
Have I thought this through to a better result?
And three private questions:
Am I really telling myself the truth?
Does this decision really feel right to me?
Do my actions show I believe I deserve better?
If all the answers are YES, then you can proceed. If any answer is NO, then you need to rethink. Ask the six questions again, and then ask yourself:
Would I like to change my decision?
The YES or NO system lets us focus on real needs, as distinct from mere wants. It creates better options by seeing the likely consequences of choices, and it identifies and uses integrity, intuition, and insight to gain peace of mind, self-confidence, and freedom from fear.
2. The time-travel method:
Author of The Four Purposes of Life: Finding Meaning and Direction in a Changing World, Dan Millman, has an interesting method based on engaging your conscious and subconscious mind.
Let’s say, you need to choose between A and B.
a. Choose A. Get into the idea that you have fully committed to A. This step is essential. Choose that option as if you have already chosen it.
b. Ask yourself this three-part question:
Having committed to A,
What will I be doing, what will I be feeling, and what will I look like one hour from now?
Write down the answers to the three parts of the question. Imagine the answers as vividly as possible. See what comes up. It is easy to imagine only one hour from now.
c. Ask yourself the same three-part question, but instead of one hour from now, imagine one day from now. Again, write down the responses.
d. Same three-part question, but this time imagine one month from now.
e. Same three-part question, but imagine one year from now.
f. Same three-part question, but imagine ten years from now. You may wonder how you could answer such a question a whole decade away, as it’s just your imagination. But, according to Millman, your imagination is a bridge to intuitive insight.
When the process is complete, repeat it for option B. Commit to B as the best choice, and feel into it. You have chosen B. Now go through the steps outlined above. You can also continue the process for option C, D, E, etc.
3. The “stick-to-it” no-regret, no “looking-back” method:
Whatever decision you need to make in life, never regret having made it. In most cases, you made the best decision you could with the available information you had at the time.
Sure, on looking back, you may have decided differently, but that is after having the benefit of hindsight.
Letting things happen or making things happen is a choice you must make.
Having no regrets for past decisions means you can move forward without a heavy load on your shoulders.
I’ve been finding more and more that the Buddha had it right: pretty much all of our struggles, from frustrations to anxiety, from anger to sadness, from grief to worry, all stem from the same thing.
The struggles come from being too tightly attached to something.
When we’re worried, we are tightly attached to how we want things to be, rather than relaxing into accepting whatever might happen when we have put forth our best effort to make a good decision.
When we procrastinate, we are attached to things being easy and comfortable, (like distractions) rather than accepting that to do something important or more meaningful, we have to make some initially uncomfortable decisions.
And never make a decision when you are angry or impulsive. Always sleep on it and let your subconscious mind chew it over first.
The decision to let go is often the best one. Leave the baggage behind and let life unfold in the way it will for you.
Learning from the past and moving on is the best way to live a full, meaningful life. Sometimes you need to simply sit back and enjoy the ride, and not take yourself too seriously.
If you are not making the decision, one thing is sure. Someone else will be making a decision on your behalf. You’re either directing the game or choosing to be a pawn in someone else’s game.
It’s your decision.