Making decisions leads to a fair amount of stress. To make good decisions we need to accept that there will always be some uncertainty. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that the decision we make will be 100-percent successful. The greater the consequence of our decision, the more stress we will feel.
I have found that many clients I see, tend to procrastinate when it comes to decision-making. This is due to the fact that they have an intolerance to uncertainty. They tried to find certainty before they make a decision, the longer they end up procrastinating. To make good decisions we have to accept the action is still better than inaction.
What stops you from making decisions?
Inevitably, there will be hooks that prevent you from taking action and being decisive. These so-called ‘hooks’ get in the way of making good decisions. Consider your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges that may hook you and pull you back from moving forward. How many times when making a decision have you thought to yourself, ” What if XYZ happens?”, the more we worry about hypothetical events, the less likely we are to make a decision.
What helps you make a decision?
When you know what your values are (basically – the things you value such as integrity, honesty, action, love, money etc), it is easier to know what to do. To make a good decision, it also helps if you know your strengths and skills that help you to act the kind of person you want to be. Individual core characteristics are well-known and you are self-aware, you will find it easier to make decisions.
The choice point
The choice point is the proverbial fork in the road. This is where you decide the direction you will take. Of course, it makes sense to make a list of the pros and cons of the two options available. That is the reasonable part of the equation that helps you form your opinions of what to do. When you make a good decision it was a careful balance between emotional aspects and the practical aspects.
When considering which way to go when you arrive at the choice point, consider whether the choice you make will take you towards acting effectively and behaving like the person you want to be. The other alternative is that your choice will take you away and lead you t0 acting ineffectively. When you act ineffectively you are behaving I’m like the person you want to be.
At the choice point: STOP
S – SLOW DOWN
Grounding techniques work well before making a decision in life. Ensure that you are in a calm and considered mental state before going ahead.
Use deep breathing techniques, mindfulness and never make a decision when you are feeling emotional or uptight.
T = TAKE NOTE
Notice what you are feeling and thinking; notice the world around you and what you are doing. In other words, be present and mindful when you make decisions. This ensures that your thinking is clear and focused.
O = OPEN UP
Make space for your thoughts and feelings and allow them to flow through. Tap into your inner wisdom and intuition. We often ignore our gut feeling but it’s there for a reason. Tune into it and ignore your intuition at your peril.
P = PURSUE VALUES
Your values are essentially what is valuable to you. Is it family, love, money, status, honesty, adventure. food and drink…? There are many values and they are unique to individuals. Make decisions that promote and include your values. Your values help you to stay true to yourself and follow your own path rather than the path others may try to set for you.
The most important consideration when making a good decision
Before you make a decision think about whether the decision will take you towards values or whether your decision will take you away from what is important to you. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, you may be faced with the decision, several times every day. regarding the meals you are going to eat.
The decision you have to make is whether to eat something healthy, in line with your values (if your value is to be thin and fit), or whether to enjoy instant gratification and eat the less healthy meal. Of course, there are times when values will be in conflict. For example, one of your values may be to look thin and healthy whilst another value might be to experience positive mood states. In this instance, it can be difficult to maintain discipline and choose the value that is most important to you at that moment.
It is impossible to always make good decisions. It is important to accept that we are all fallible human beings and that living a life according to your values is a constant evolving process. Be aware of what your values are and choose to aim for those important values as best you can. It’s an excellent way to improve your mood states in general and feel more content in life.