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How Do You Decide?

I’m not sure if I want to wear the blue dress or the red one. Should we have a big wedding or a small intimate one with just immediate family and a few close friends? Vacation in Italy or France? Should I learn Spanish or French? Keep this job or start my own business? Shall I eat a salad for lunch or have the cheeseburger?

The amount of decisions we all face in a day is pretty monumental. And for those that are self employed, starting a business, or are in a leadership position the number of decisions that need to be made in a day rises exponentially. It can be overwhelming for some even when the decision may be as “small” as what to have for lunch.

A lot of factors go into our decisions. Some of us are quick on the draw and can decide things very quickly. Others can take a very long time to make even simple decisions. Here are some of the obstacles that can derail our ability to make decisions in general, and good ones at that.

1. Depression- Experiencing depression, especially if moderate to severe, can make even simple decision making feel like a grind. For some people the decision to get up out of bed is a major one. Depression can cloud a lot of things and have a significant impact on quality of life if it is not treated. The inability to make even small decisions is just one of many signs or symptoms of depression. Get help if you think this affects you.

2. The Quest for the “Right” or Perfect Decision- Some people put off making decisions because they are waiting for just right circumstances, or they want to discover the “one right way” to do the thing they are contemplating. When this happens it is often part of a bigger dynamic of perfectionism which can really get in the way of making both big and small decisions. Like the artist who can’t finish the painting because it’s not “quite perfect yet”, this way of thinking can cause people to miss out on a lot because their very thoughts of not doing everything exactly right causes them to shrink back.

3. Fear of Failure- Unlike the perfectionist, the fear of failure can hold us back from even trying anything new or allowing our self to accept a position or start a business for the fear that it won’t be successful. Fear is a natural normal feeling that everyone has at one point or another. Learning to acknowledge it like an uninvited guest without giving it all your power is key.

4. Fear of Regret- This is a big one. Many people make decisions to pursue or not pursue something out of fear of regret. They overfocus on the thought that if I don’t do this will I regret it, and /or if I do this thing, or pursue this opportunity, will I regret it in the end if it does not pan out? Some people can get stuck in the loop of this thinking so long that they don’t make a decision, or the decision gets made for them.

Here are some thoughts to help you in your decision making process moving forward.

1. Reconnect with your Personal Core Values- When you have clarity about who you are, what you want, who and what is important to you then let those values guide your decisions. Trying to lose 10 pounds so you can feel healthier and have more energy? Then a great choice is eat the chicken salad for lunch instead of the cheeseburger. Own a company and trying to make a critical decision about a new product line? Consider how it fits within your company’s mission and purpose as well as core values.

2. Know How You are Wired. Here’s a bit of neuroscience. We are all hard wired to move toward pleasure and away from pain. How is that factoring in to both your personal and professional decisions? Are you running from something too quickly because it got to be a little more work or it feels hard? Is there something that may take some sacrifice and yet is totally worth pursuing? Be aware and pay attention to your thoughts and listen for things like, “it’s too hard”, or “ I can’t do this.” Think of the end goal and then decide.

3. Stay connected to your Big Picture. Know your “Why”. When you know WHY you would do ____, or not do _____ i.e., having clarity as to your WHY can be a game changer. When you view a decision in that context, it can help you more readily see the decision that fits the best for you. You can move beyond just pros and cons of making a decision by honing in on your Why you would or would not move forward.

4. See Decisions and Their Outcomes as Experiments. People often put a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves for decisions both personal and business. When we remind ourselves that life is an adventure, and trying something new is an experiment, (one that we may or may not deem successful) then we can see it as an opportunity. With an experiment we have an idea of what we hope for, and, like any experiment, there are lessons to be learned. Whether your decision turns out great, or misses the mark, you have the ability to learn from that and let it inform how you might do something different in the future.

In the end, we all are faced with countless decisions in a day. The more we can remind ourselves to show ourselves and others compassion, the better this all goes.

Some of our decisions are likely to produce fantastic results- and others not so much.

Each decision carries its own opportunity for how we choose to think and learn from it.

Celebrate the good ones as well as the not so great ones. They all matter. They all help us grow.

Remember these are your decisions- own them , experience them and appreciate them for all the life lessons they provide.

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