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13 Ways To Make Decision Making Less Stressful

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13 Ways To Make Decision Making Less Stressful

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” — Tony Robbins

Do you struggle to make decisions?

You may feel so concerned about making the wrong choice that you don’t make any choice at all. I firmly believe that but by doing this, you actually do make a decision: you decide not to choose any path or destination!  No decision is a decision.

The typical way of coming to a decision involves attempting to compare the future consequences of each of the possible actions. But really how do you know the future, how can you realistically make a decision based on “possible” outcomes?

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The first challenge lies in attempting to predict the future; it’s tough to have any real accuracy. The second challenge is that the more important and serious we believe the issue to be, the more likely we are to become paralyzed. Yet, these big issues are the ones that really require a decision and a direction.  Ultimately, making decisions this way can be difficult. Indecision can feel paralyzing.

Can there be a Better Way?

Try this on for size, see how it feels differently from the last method. Instead of looking at a long-term point in the future, try considering just the impact on your life and your well-being now – right here, right now, in the present moment.

Two simple questions to ask yourself:

  1. If I selected this option, how would it impact my life right now?
  2. What changes would I experience immediately?

An example:

Suppose you had a job that you didn’t really care for, but the money was good and you didn’t have to work very hard to get it. But you really wanted to be a teacher.  The thought of teaching middle school English always appealed to you, and you’d love having the summers available to do something other than work your usual job.

Let’s think about this a little:

If I selected this option, what impact would it have on my life right now? What changes would I experience immediately?

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  • Stay at old job: I would feel trapped. I would feel very little hope that in the future I could have an enjoyable career.
  • Become a teacher: I would feel hopeful about the future and excited at the prospect of spending my days in a more enjoyable way.

Now it is so much easier to see what option will feel better, will enhance your life and lead you to greater personal satisfaction.

Present Moment Impact

When you look only at the impact your decision making have in the present moment, you get to the heart of the matter very quickly. The very fact that you’re stuck to begin with and can’t make up your mind means that you’re having a difficult time choosing one over the other. So if there’s no obvious winner, choose the option that’s the most fulfilling to you.

By taking the future out of the equation and simply making a decision, you can move forward and spend your energy taking action to make your decision work out the very best it can. This is a much more effective and enjoyable way to live.

Additional Strategies to make decisions less stressful

  1. Let go a little. You don’t have to be the best or be perfect all of the time.
  2. Look at the big picture.  So many times we get caught up in all the small details that we really loose sight of the big picture.
  3. Take a break. Take a yoga class, go on a run or meditate. Let your mind relax and allow your subconsciousness do the work for you.
  4. Intuition. Simply go with your gut. Sometimes your first instinct is the one that will lead you in the right direction.
  5. Non-Permanent. Remember that many of our decisions are not permanent, they are just phases in our lives and things will change.
  6. Choose to live from your heart. Allowing your heart to guide you will ensure that you know you are moving forward for your greater good.

Additional Action Steps to make decisions more manageable

Checklists to free your Mind

Creating checklists for routine and everyday tasks can free your mind and lower your stress levels.  I use checklists often, it allows me to breathe easy, I’m never stressing that I am forgetting something.  Once your checklist is ready you don’t need to spend time deciding to do A or B, you will know that you will do B after you have completed A.

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Block your Time

Set aside a specific block of time for making your decision. Pick a location where you will not be disturbed.  Set a timer.  Give yourself enough time, but be careful about using too much as you will turn the session into an unproductive procrastination session.

Limit your choices

Quickly rule out choices not suitable. Pick 2-3 choices that interesting and part of your life plan or vision.  This allows to you eliminate unnecessary information overload and will help you analyze choices quicker.

Right-size, right decision

Putting the right amount of effort into your decision making will help you make faster decisions and with less stress.  Making the decision about “what’s for dinner?” and making the decision about “where to go to college?” both deserve the appropriate amount of time and effort.  Understand that smaller decisions don’t need to be made into large ones because you are feeling “stuck”.

Create a Support System

Put together a group of friends and family that can assist with the big decisions.  You could also opt to join a Mastermind group, a group of peers that can offer you an objective view and a new prospective on your decisions.

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Delegate the Small Stuff

Whether it is around the house or at the office, there are some things that you can definitely pass on to other people.  Think about the things that can easily be shifted to other family members or assistants.  Allow these people to learn the art of decision making for themselves, help prepare them for bigger decisions.

Put some or all of these strategies into practice for fighting stress while making decisions, and you will see real changes in every area of your life.   You will see the levels of stress decrease, you will see that decisions become easier to make each time.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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