How do you feel about making decisions? I don’t know if I’ve met anyone (yet!) who says they LOVE making decisions and yet, decision-making is critical to success in all areas of our lives. Having difficulty making decisions, worrying about the ‘right’ decision, and staying committed to a decision comes up often in work I do with clients, and in the networking meetings I host. Why aren’t we good at this and how can we get better??
Making decisions is not something most of us were taught to do, at least not in a direct way. And making a decision means accepting and taking responsibility for the consequences – good, bad and in-between – of that decision. And yet while we worry and go back and forth we forget that almost every decision can be changed, or at the very least we can course-correct, decide again, and keep on going! And getting going is key…that’s WHY we need to make a decision in the first place.
Become good at making decisions and you will eliminate conflict and confusion in your life. When we are going back and forth in our minds about something – stuck in indecision – the chaos is reflected in our results. Decision brings order to your mind and this order is then reflected in our outer world. What is going on with our inner game is always reflected in our outer game!
Think of it as a lifelong skill you need to (and chose to!) develop. You can keep getting better at making decisions by learning more about yourself! How often do you hear people ask ‘what do you think I should do?’ Most of the time the people we are asking have no knowledge or experience about it anyway! If you need to think through a decision out loud – which I often do – instead ask something like ‘do you have time to help me talk through a few things?’ This keeps your focus on what you are thinking and feeling about the decision rather than passing it (and your power, and your responsibility…) to someone else.
At the root of making decisions quickly is our confidence. Do you have enough confidence to know and trust yourself to make a decision that is best for you at that moment in time (but not too much to the point where you think you have nothing more to learn).
I do like lists but I also know that we will never have ALL the information or the complete list of pros and cons! Does it help to do some research to make an informed decision about the big decisions in life? Sure, sometimes. But not if it takes so much time that we lose out on an opportunity, or throw ourselves into a tailspin obsessing over it! And not in your heart if you know what you truly want to do…
For some people, and at some points in our lives, our connection to our intuition, our heart or inner guidance system comes through loud and clear. I moved to Winnipeg (oh yes I did!) less than 2 months after meeting my now husband at a conference and we will be celebrating our 15 year anniversary next week – now in our home city Toronto. Sometimes you just know and so you leap. But what about the times when you don’t?
Start by practicing making decisions when it ‘doesn’t count’. (And isn’t that really how we practise everything?) We are bombarded by decisions on a regular basis so it’s easy to find ways to do this. For example: what restaurant to go to, what show or movie to watch, what shampoo to buy, where to go on your next vacation. From the multitude of options do enough ‘research’ to narrow it down to two choices. And then pick the one you like the best, right now!
To make it fun, and to learn to listen to your inner guidance, try this ‘game’. I have used this strategy since the days of renting movies at Blockbuster (remember that?! When you were with a group of friends and no one could decide on a movie?) and continue to use it for myself, share it with clients, and use it to help my children make decisions. This quick and easy approach can help you to tap into your intuition with a quick gut check. Simple and powerful.
1) Write each option a piece of paper.
2) Get a friend, family member or colleague to mix them up and with one in each hand put them behind their back (or if you’re alone put them in a hat!).
3) Pick one and read what you decision you’ve ‘won’.
Now here’s the experiment:
4) Check in and see how you feel about it. What has changed, even subtly in your body, your energy, even your facial expression. Is it a Yahoo!! or a Yikes!!
I used this recently with my youngest son who was trying to decide whether or not to take a year off of his diving practice to do soccer. He’s 8 years old but we wanted it to be his decision (hmm, warm pool gallery versus cold soccer field dome in the winter – you can see what Mom would pick!) and for him to learn to make decisions and stick to them at a young age.
Well, back and forth, he couldn’t decide. He didn’t want to upset his diving coach, or his friends doing soccer…isn’t it interesting how often we don't want to make a decision because we are worried about what other people will think? About our life?
And so I played this game with him. SOCCER on a note in one hand, DIVING on a note in the other and told him it was an experiment and that while he didn’t have to do the sport he picked he should imagine it was what he would do all year long. He chose one, and his body language and face said it all – and he was happy to verbalize it too! He picked diving (which, by the way, he is REALLY good at) but was disappointed because he wanted to do soccer. So I’m back to being a soccer mom this year. And he’s experienced connecting with his inner guidance to make a decision about what he wants.
The next time you have a small decision to make, see how quickly you can just make it and keep moving forward. Use this simple game to give you insight into what you want. If you didn’t like that movie or that restaurant, say that and learn from it. Keep practising when it doesn’t count!
Then, the next time you have a bigger decision to make it will be easier because you have started to form the habit of making decisions quickly. Use the game to help you connect to your inner guidance! Over time you won’t even need to use the game to tap into your intuition or your gut response because you will just feel it, trust it, and make the decision. The right decision, for you, knowing what you know, at that moment!