9 Helpful Hints about making Good Decisions…
Do you struggle with the process of making decisions? Whether it’s a life-altering decision or a smaller choice, we’ve all been faced with this challenge at some point in our lives.
I was recently faced with deciding between 3 fantastic opportunities. They all happened to fall on the same weekend. Although I recognized that this was, in the scheme of life, not anywhere close to the most important choice I’d have to make, it still challenged my decision-making skills. It still pulled me in different directions. And with this, I love the lessons that I learned.
When I realized that I would have to choose between these 3 options, I heard my mind say: “Oh no! I wish this wasn’t happening!” I had a feeling of overwhelm that churned in my gut.
Next, I noticed resistance that felt like a surge of nervous energy running through my legs and there was noticeable tension in my stomach. The resistance had a lot to say: “Why do they all have to be happening at the same time?! No matter which I pick, I’ll miss out on the others! It’s impossible to measure which one is best for me right now.”
I felt the reverberation of internal chaos as thoughts, feelings and sensations were on high blast. I called two wise friends and my business coach to get guidance. They were helpful at shedding some light on the practical and the emotional angles of the dilemma, but still I felt rumblings of indecision.
I wanted to listen to my body, but my body was so overwhelmed — it was just as flooded and chaotic as my mind.
When I become aware of this “flooding” sensation, I knew to go to my tools: deep breaths, yoga, and meditation. These body-mind, self-care practices helped me clear the chaos of my mind and my body. That space helped me to realize that I had a little bit of time (not much) before making a final decision and that the pressure I was putting on this, was my own.
I paused. I sat with and moved with:
- my fear of missing out and my fear of making the “wrong” decision.
- the pressure I created inside myself.
- the battling voices of my mind.
- the sensations that arose each time I thought about it.
- the frustration of making a big deal about fun opportunities.
I witnessed myself in ways that felt uncomfortable. I breathed.
After learning more details about each of the 3 events and sitting with/moving with all the “stuff” that showed up inside me, I had several realizations, reminders and aha’s that I hope you, too, will find helpful in making sound decisions. Although my example was a “first-world” decision, I believe these realizations hold true in most decision-making processes.
- No “wrong decisions”. What if there were no “wrong decisions” and only life lessons? Unless it’s life or death (and even then sometimes) a decision simply leads you down a different road – not a “right” road or a “wrong” road…just different. I realized that whichever I chose, I’d learn from my decision-making process. That’s a win all around. For me, this took the pressure off and allowed me to explore the exciting things about all of my great options.
- Gather all the information. I was already launching into decision-making mode without knowing all the details of each event. I was weighing options that didn’t yet officially exist. Then I was allowing the made-up information impact my mind and my body. After gathering all the actual information and having conversations with the organizers of each event, the decision moved from murky to clear…leading me to feel much less conflicted.
- Privilege of Choice. In the midst of my self-induced overwhelm and fear, I had this moment where a thought popped into my head: “How fortunate am I that I get to choose between 3 wonderful options? That I live in a place where choice is taken for granted and decisions like these feel like burdens instead of privileges?” I began to breathe easier.
- Gratitude. After realizing my privilege to choose, I had a wave of gratitude wash over me. “I am grateful for having so many choices every day, for having a body and a mind and a life that provides me with options.” We are so fortunate and choice is the key to freedom.
- Saying “no” to say “yes”. I love it when I am reminded that anytime I say “no” to something, I am saying “yes” to a bunch of open doors. Saying “no” isn’t nearly as difficult when I can see how many yes’s await me.
6. Pausing to Go. By pausing, giving myself a little bit of time and space, and using the tools that I know work for me, gave me just what I need to make a decision that felt aligned with who I am. It’s temping, when in the discomfort of uncertainty, to want it resolved NOW. But, taking that extra bit of time (even a simple breath or two) can make all the difference. Rushing forward with decisions is rarely necessary.
7. Self-induced Pressure. I made my decision-making process much more complicated and unnecessarily stressful by putting an artificial time limit on it. Notice where you are adding unnecessary pressures or unimportant factors to your process and let them go.
8. It’s an Inside Job. No matter how wise, others can’t make your decisions for you. They can shed light, help give perspective, point out things you missed, and be a nice support during your process… but in the end, it’s up to you…and how fortunate is that (see #4)?!
9. Good decisions don’t always feel good. It doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision if you don’t feel a sigh of relief when you’ve made your final decision. Sometimes, choices are tough and they create change in your life. Change is scary (even when it’s for the good). Hang in and breathe through it and trust that once you’ve made your choice, the new road you’re travelling on is just where you need to be.
What are you biggest learnings from making both challenging and not-so-challenging decisions?
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