Decisions can be really tough.
They can change the course of a career, of a life, forever. The thing is, when you’re faced with making a decision, you often only have a limited amount of information and a limited field of experience to draw upon. But the consequences of your decision are huge. They could potentially be really good…or really, really bad!
There’s no reference book where you can just look up the correct decision you need to make and discover what the best course of action is. There are hundreds of variables. Each variable must be weighed differently, and each one comes with a tangle of emotions and worries attached to it.
Making good decisions is one of the hardest but most important things we do as human beings. In fact, anything that happens down the line can be seen as a direct consequence of earlier decisions. Learning to make good ones and having an effective methodology is vital.
The reason that decisions can be so tricky is because we get caught up in trying to make an evaluation by thinking about it, but all the while each thought is a tangled mess of emotion as well.
You know what I’m talking about, right?
How to Make Better Decisions: Take Out The Trash
Remember the old wire scourer your mother used to use to scrub the pans after cooking a roast? Perhaps you recall how tangled the wire of that scourer would become after a few uses. Then you probably remember how difficult it was to wash it out as well. No matter how much you rinsed it you could still find pieces of debris and grease trapped in amongst the layers of wire. This is exactly how it is with your thoughts and feelings when you are trying to make a decision. Your thoughts are like the wire, and the emotions are like the discarded food that gets caught up in the wires. As you start eliminating the mind trash and dropping the thoughts around the issue, everything gets untangled.
Imagine the wires are akin to your thoughts. Taking out just one wire at a time reduces the messy knot of wires. Bit by bit it becomes easier and easier to take out individual wires, and the corresponding emotions or sensations that go along with them.
Once you’ve reduced the mass of wire and debris, your thinking becomes much clearer. You start to see the forest and the trees.
You gain a balanced perspective and we find that instead of running the same thought patterns and worries again and again, the anxieties give way to more creative ideas about how you can tackle the problem and give yourself better alternatives than the options you originally thought you had. All this is a result of pulling out the individual thoughts, and allowing your mind to get really quiet. It means dropping the thinking and letting go of trying to hold every consideration in mind.
“The key to good decision making is being able to drop the thoughts that are keeping your brain so busy.” ReTweet This
How To Drop The Mind Trash
In the beginning this is easier said than done. In fact, if you’re reading this and thinking, “How on earth do I just drop thoughts, I can’t help what I’m thinking!”, then that’s OK. There is a process that can help you…
- Let’s imagine you have a decision to make. It could be important, it could be charged with emotion, or it could be really simple and you’ve pretty much already decided which way you’re going to go. Pick something to use as an example as you read this.
- Now, as you think of that decision, you probably have lots of thoughts around each possible course of action. Let’s assume for simplicity that there are two possible things you could do. You may want to jot these two options down on a piece of paper.
- For each option there are going to be advantages and disadvantages. So beneath those two options, start two columns labeled positive and negative.
- Now empty out every thought you have around each of those points – paying attention to, and allocating to a column, every single thought that comes up. If you have a thought that doesn’t easily fit into one of the four columns, then you can jot this down elsewhere on the piece of paper.
- Now go through each column, completely emptying out every thought you can possibly come up with. Once you’ve got them out of your head and on to paper, you are then free to make a decision without trying to hold everything in mind.
If this is resonating with you, you can take this one step further. For each thought you put onto the page, see if you can pay attention to any sensation you get in your body and then observe it until it leaves. You’ll be surprised at how suddenly you can’t even remember what that original thought was!
Don’t worry: you won’t forget anything that it is important to remember. Your brain will allow you to let go of the thoughts, live in the moment and still function effectively without having to hold everything in your mind the whole time.
Once you get to this stage, you’ll be completely free of the mind trash and the emotional charge around your decision. You’ll be able to make a decision from a place of balance and complete freedom.
How To Test Drive Your New Skills
You’ve got the method. Now to test it out and make it second nature before you need to use it on something that puts you into a tailspin.
It’s like learning to drive. If you know how to pull out of a skid during a test drive, then when the time comes that you need to do it for real, you don’t have to remember the mechanics of it, you just do it.
It’s the same thing with this letting-go technique. If you practice it and get used to it, you will find it all the more powerful when you have a real situation where it will be helpful.
So over to you now: pick a decision, even if it’s not that big a deal right now, even if you think you’ve got it under control for the time being, and test the method out. Remember: write down each option, draw up your positive and negative columns, start filling them out and then feel the sensation associated with each thought until it leaves.
Leave me a comment and share what decision you’re going to test it out on!
And as always – I’m here to help if you need clarification, or if you get stuck…
Our lives are defined by our ability to make decisions. 5 Tips for Lightning-Fast Decision MakingFeatured photo credit: Woman with a cart in a storevia Shutterstock