Decisions, decisions. You make them all the time. Some are a piece of cake and some you agonize over for days, months, or even years. You probably never even stopped to realize the process that you use when you make a decision.
‘I just keep thinking about all my choices and I can’t seem to make up my mind, and then I feel frustrated and kinda stupid that I can’t seem to make a simple decision.’ This is how one of my clients described her difficulty in making a routine choice.
What she didn’t know was that she wasn’t using all her decision making tools. Yes, there are actual tools to making a strong powerful decision. There are 4 decision power tools to put in your tool belt.
Logical brain – or ‘Let me think about it’
For most folks this is the easy one. With this tool you look at the natural and logical consequences and determine a likely outcome. You will also generally weigh the pros and cons of the decision. Think about lunch – if I eat the cheeseburger my mouth will be really happy and I’ll feel full and satisfied. But on the other hand, it’s not the best choice for my health and I’ll need to take a nap afterwards. This is the logical brain talking.
The pitfall to using this tool exclusively is that sometimes you can logic yourself around and around and not get to any type of decision. All possibilities seem reasonable, with no one choice really standing out.
Your logic can paralyze you.
Emotional self – or ‘I want that!’
The emotional aspect of decision making brings your desire into the picture. When making a decision we can ask what we want regarding each possibility, which can give us valuable information. It’s important to use this tool, as it adds the satisfaction flavor to our choices, and balances out the dry logical tool.
Think about the cheeseburger choice again. Sometimes choosing the cheeseburger is simply going to satisfy you more than the salad. The emotional tool = what is satisfying.
The pitfall of this tool is that when used exclusively it can lead to impulsive decisions that ultimately become dissatisfying. I like to think about spending or eating when I talk about this area – you can buy or eat emotionally, but not really satisfy the true need. Your desires can sometimes lead you in the wrong direction.
Intuition – or ‘I just have a feeling’
This tool is the often overlooked or a disregarded factor and shows up later when we’re trying to figure out why our decision didn’t lead to the outcome we desired. Intuition is the gut feeling, the nagging thought, the voice in your head that is telling you something, but often you’re just not listening.
Intuition shows up for people in different ways and if you’re not familiar with your intuitive voice, it behooves you to become friends with how this wisdom speaks to you. Especially when a decision seems difficult it is important to bring your intuition tool to the table. Most often I do this by simply asking a question about each choice and listening for the whisper (and sometimes loud command) of the answer.
The pitfall of using your intuition exclusively is that you may have trouble working with others. I am a big believer in the power of intuition, but when you tell someone that your decision is based on an ‘intuitive hit’ or a ‘feeling in your gut’, be ready for some skepticism. Many people perceive this as airy fairy and your credibility may plummet.
Your values – or ‘That doesn’t fit for me’
This really should be tool number 1 since your values can easily eliminate choices and possibilities that don’t fit for you.
For example, let’s say you just received $1000. Yay! $1000! So, now the decision is what to do with this money. If you have a value of financial stability, then you’ll likely save or invest it. If your value is fun, then you may buy the latest new gadget that will bring a smile to your face. However, if your value is financial stability and you spend the $1000 on the latest fun gadget, you will feel uncomfortable and regretful since your choice doesn’t match your value.
Can you see how values are a baseline, an elimination point, yet the 3 other tools are necessary to arrive at an ultimate choice?
When you build a house you do not use only one tool. You may like a hammer the best, but it will be hard to get the wood into the right shapes and then keep the pieces together. You need a saw and some nails and a great foundation.
The same is true for decisions. Have a solid foundation by knowing your values, and then use your logic, emotions, and intuition to construct decisions that feel solid and powerful for you.
What’s your preferred decision making tool? How will you create balance in your decision making toolbelt?
Leave a comment and let me know what you think.