Decision making is a challenge for almost everybody, but there are ways to make it easier and a whole lot less gut-wrenching.
I’ll start with one of the simplest methods, and one I use frequently with clients when, for example, they are trying to decide between two topics to work on in a session together. “Close your eyes and relax,” I tell them. “Hold your hands out in front of you as if you were about to start juggling balls.”
Then I ask them to imagine that each hand is holding one of the issues they want to discuss and to take a moment to feel them sitting there. Which of the two feels heavier? Whichever one is “weightier” is the one that is calling out to be worked on today.
This method works in all kinds of situations, but obviously works best when you have just two things to decide between (I haven’t met any three-handed clients yet, but who knows?).
Several other decision-making methods use other systems by which to measure and assess your potential decisions.
One method that works well in decision-making is something I learned from marketing maven, Fabienne Fredrickson. Let’s say you have several projects you could attack and don’t know which one to do first. Simply ask yourself which project will:
- Bring you the most money
- In the least amount of time
- With the least amount of effort
- That will be the most fun
- And will have the greatest long-term impact on my life?
A similiar, but much simpler, method involves taking the decision and comparing it directly to your long-term plans and big visions for your life. Just as the plot of a book needs to follow a certain arc, and novelists are encouraged not to include information that doesn’t contribute to that arc, does the outcome of your decision stand in line with the life you have planned? If it does not clearly do so, then strongly consider deciding against it.
A method espoused by Suzy Welch in her book, 10 10 10: A Life-Transforming Idea, is one I like a lot because it causes you to examine the decision through three different filters. In simplified form, you ask yourself what the consequences will be of the decision in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. Basically this means right now, in the short-term future, and in the long-term future (it doesn’t have to be exactly 10 minutes). This can make a big difference because it can instantly clarify the situation for you.
Read my review of Welch’s book by clicking here
And finally, a tried and true method for decision-making is to simply trust your gut. If you are having a strong feeling about something, then it needs to be listened to. Now, the truth is that sometimes, in certain situations, our feelings can be unreliable and you have to know yourself well enough to know that. For example, if the decision about whether or not to get married is scaring the beejeezus out of you, that might not be your gut speaking but rather the lingering effects of your parent’s raucous divorce when you were age 9. The information is valuable and there may be much to learn from it, but it should not necessarily be the deciding factor.
The thing that is great about finally making decisions, both tough and small, is that it creates space. Having made the decision, you are now more free to be creative and put your attention on to the here and now. It’s a glorious feeling!
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