Life is full of decisions. We make them every single day. Quite often they’re just small decisions, which we give little consideration to, and so just go with how we feel in the moment. Cook a meal or order a takeaway? Watch TV or workout? Have a glass of water or a glass of wine? Stay up late or get up early? Say no to others or say no to ourselves? Are you getting the picture?
You see, frequently we assume these decisions have no significant consequences, so why would we bother to put any more thought into it? Well, frankly, because these little decisions form our daily habits, and our daily habits form the foundation for our entire experience of life. So, every time you choose a takeaway over a healthy meal, wine over water, TV over a workout, or a late night over an early start, you’re choosing to compromise your health and energy levels, for convenience or short-term pleasure; in other words, acting in response to your emotional state rather than in your best interests. Similarly, when you say yes to everything put in front of you, you compromise your own priorities in order to avoid the guilt from letting others fend for themselves.
And you might be thinking, “So what? I’m healthy enough.” Well, perhaps you are, but if you have the desire to be, do and have more (success, wealth, fulfilment, health, joy, contribution, love, etc), then you’re going to need a lot of energy to be able to consistently take the actions that are essential, in order to realise those goals. Likewise, if you want to be able to find the time, to make those things happen, you must learn to prioritise your own goals ahead of other people’s plans for you. In other words, you must develop the ability to say, “No”.
Beyond these small decisions, are much bigger decisions, which can often lead to complete paralysis, particularly if you aren’t used to getting the outcomes you desire, due to making poor decisions on the smaller, habitual choices. So, when you decide you’d like to move to a new city, start a family, change careers, exit a relationship or embark on a new one, or learn something new, you may well find that you have so many conflicting concerns that you become rooted to the spot. What if it goes wrong? What if you’re not smart enough to make it work? What if you can’t afford to get by? What if no one else wants you? What if you look foolish? What if, what if, what if…
Sound familiar? Then check out my top tips for making great decisions!
1. Decide what you want
It’s impossible to identify the right path if you don’t even know where you really want to be. How do you know whether to watch TV or go for a run, if you haven’t given any thought to the lifestyle you want to have? I mean, we all say we’d like to be fit and healthy, but often we want that less than we want to watch soaps and eat cake. So ask yourself, what do you really, REALLY want? If you can only have good health or poor health, which is it going to be? I mean, I know you can have an occasional piece of cake and still have good health but, let’s be honest here, I’m not talking about an occasional piece, I’m talking about your habitual behaviour.
2. Make an agreement with yourself to stay on track, and commit to it!
Sticking with the cake analogy, not eating it is the easiest thing in the world, but the reason that you don’t stay true to your promise not to eat it, is because you never really intended to in the first place. You know already, when you tell yourself you won’t eat it, that at some point, when you don’t feel like abstaining, you’ll eat it anyway. The point is, if you truly want the good health, you have to stick with it, even when you don’t feel like it. I also know you’re probably reading this and thinking, “What’s the point of living if you can’t enjoy some cake?” Well, that’s one way of looking at it. And again, it comes down to what’s more important to you. Good health, and the long term feel-fantastic benefits that comes with that, or short term pleasure with long term consequences. So, if you’re struggling, you might want to revisit point 1.
3. Ignore the “What ifs…”
It’s easy to let yourself get sucked into believing that every possible bad outcome is going to happen but, in reality, it’s highly unlikely that they will and, most of the time, provided you’re pushing forward towards what you truly want, you’ll get better outcomes than you anticipated. Ok, sometimes they’ll be learning outcomes, but that’s all part of developing too, so stop fighting it.
4. Follow a straight-forward method for guiding your decisions
A great process is the best way to make sure you always make the best decisions you can, with the information you have. And, really, who can possibly do any more than that? So have yourself a clear set of emotion-free objectives, that guide your small, and large, decisions, and you’ll rarely put a foot wrong. Wondering what a decision making process looks like? Help yourself to my free “Super Simple Guide to Decision Making” and see how I make sure my decisions always keep me moving in the right direction.
So, how about you? What other methods do you use to inform your decision making? And, what’s the toughest decision you’ve ever made?