Starter or dessert? Movie or a play? Beach spa or mountain retreat? Internal role or join a new employer? Stay on the couch or a jog round the park?
Life is full of decisions. Some are easy to answer. Others require a bit more investigation and thinking.
But some…… well, they get you stuck. Going round in loops, seeking out an encyclopaedia of information, gathering opinions, creating stacks of analysis from every angle possible or potentially, you might choose to avoid the decision, ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t need to be made.
The good news is all of those things are normal human reactions to decision making. Phew. The bad news is that there is no one single, perfect, failsafe method to get you out of being stuck. However, I do think there are somethings that you can do to improve your decision making comfort and success.
Check your responsibility
Ask yourself honestly “is this a decision I have to make?” If that’s a no, then you’re carrying someone else’s monkey. Let it go.
By caring for others, we can absorb their emotions, challenges and explore how we can make their lives or situation better. It’s a wonderful, kind, generous use of your energy – but only if they want your support and help in making their own decision.
Also check in that you’re seeking to resolve the right questions and what you can control or influence. Assumption is not your friend in decision making and could lead you down a rabbit hole or into a maze of confusion.
Open your mind
You may have heard of “analysis paralysis” – the whirlwind circling of being driven to collect facts, details and evidence and then review it from every conceivable angle, yet not quite getting to a conclusion – rather finding more avenues to travel down first.
Finding the right amount of insight prior to making a decision is tricky. For example, you may be confident to move ahead based on a gut or heart reaction. Or you may feel the need to do more in-depth research. This will depend on how significant the decision is. Deciding to have an extra helping of dessert may be a positive emotional reward for a milestone achievement so gut happiness alone works. What if it could be breaking of a new healthy eating habit? Then combining the emotional and rational together could help make a more long-term decision.
My suggestion would be to find a balance of emotional comfort and logical satisfaction for all major decisions – the ones that impact the key areas of life, relations, work and finances.
Visit alternative universes
Many times when we’re making a decision, we get stuck in the impacts on the present or in how similar decisions went in the past. What about the future? The aftermath of decisions beyond the first wave are overlooked.
Try this approach: taking each potential option, fast forward time to 1 year, 3 years or 5 years ahead. Then create a “video” in your mind, write the story or draw the setting of how things are if you had taken one specific option. Include the colours, sounds, emotions, people and places in as much detail as you can. Replay and notice your reaction here in the moment. Do this with the different options.
This type of future visioning can help inform your decisions today.
Set your end time
If you aren’t given a firm deadline to decide by, create your own. Mark it in your diary. Post it on the fridge door. Adding certainty to the decision point, enhances your brain’s comfort levels and helps to prevent decision avoidance.
Leaving it open ended encourages more turning in circles, avoidance of making the decision and typically, greater stress levels!
I’m interested to know what types of decisions get you stuck and how you move ahead? Ask me a question on how to get unstuck or share a different way.