Hello SOTGC community,
How many decisions have you made today? According to a survey by Columbia University, Americans make an average of 70 decisions a day.* It is no wonder that most of us can relate to indecision; 70 decisions a day add up to a lot of choices to weed through in a week, a month, and a lifetime.
I have found that many of the tougher decisions I have faced were more easily solved by applying some simple concepts. Taking time to sit down with a pen and paper and look at the situation in a new dimension gave me more confidence in my choices.
If you find yourself struggling with a tough decision, then read on. I invite you to grab a pen and paper and follow these steps to create a winning plan for making choices that are right for you. Go on. Get started. Be prepared when the time comes to make a decision. You’ll thank yourself later for all the time you saved from agonizing over indecision. These steps have been developed to apply to personal and group decision-making; follow the suggestions that are relevant to your situation.
STEP 1: Establish personal/family/business values and priorities. These will be the foundation you base your decisions on. They are the philosophy and mission statement for your life. What do you value (i.e. independence vs. interdependence, honesty, kindness). List your priorities and order them the best you can (i.e. family, work, friends). Depending on the person, it may help to make separate value and priority lists for work and family decision-making.
STEP 2: List your goals based on the values and priorities you established. What are your short- and long-term goals and aspirations? Do they fall in line with your values and priorities? Revisit steps one and two over time. As you grow and transition through the seasons, your values, priorities, and goals will evolve and change. Check in every several months to make sure you are on your desired path or if you need go make alterations.
STEP 3: List yourself and those who will be directly impacted by your decision. Write down everyone’s needs, wants, and fears as they relate to the situation. Wants are often mistaken as needs, so take care to determine the difference. True needs may take some digging to uncover, but when we take the time to understand them, they often bring the appropriate solution to light. In most cases, when there is more than one person involved in a decision, then the best answer is that which will meet the most needs. The more accurately you can decipher wants from needs, and address the fears that often accompany them, the easier your decision may be.
STEP 4: Brainstorm solutions. You have determined the needs of those involved in the decision, so now take some time to ponder possible solutions. I have found that doing this while well-rested and well-nourished helps to create an atmosphere for inspiration. An important part of this process is to write down EVERY solution no matter how outlandish or undesirable they may seem. The act of acknowledging them and seeing them on paper can help in the deliberation process. Create a safe space for everyone to voice their ideas without criticism or dissection of their contributions. Discussing these solutions will come in the next step; right now focus on writing them down.
STEP 5: Discuss the possibilities. Go through your list of solutions and think and talk about them. Here, you will assess them by how well they support your values/priorities/goals and how well they meet everyone’s needs. Try not to label ideas as bad and good. These judgments are unnecessary, and they may cause walls to be erected in a place where openness and acceptance is important. The appropriate solutions will stand on their own without need for argument and ridicule.
STEP 6: Imagine. Hopefully, by now, you have one or more solutions. If not, then repeat the above steps. If time and circumstances allow, then rest, change scenery, have a bite to eat, or do something to recharge and unwind. Once you have some ideas that passed through your checklist of values, priorities, goals and needs, you can put them to the test. Imagine yourself acting out the scenario each solution may present. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings. Do you see any possible red flags? This is often a time when some people will discover their hidden fears. Acknowledge these feelings and understand the fundamental needs that lie beneath.
STEP 7: Do you feel regret or relief? When you mentally walk yourself through the process of making a decision, does that particular solution bring you regret or relief? Go with relief. Regret, anguish, bitterness — these are all negative emotions. Address them — this may not be the right solution. Are you ready to conquer the fears behind these feelings, or is your gut tell you to try another way? Relief, calmness, and contentment are positive feelings. When you are in-tune, your body will communicate in many ways. You will learn to decipher when the feeling of flitting butterflies in your tummy is from anticipation and excitement or is your innate sense telling you to stop and evaluate. Ultimately, listen to yourself and trust your instinct.
You made it. Have confidence in the fact you care enough to put time and thought into your decision-making process. Remember that compromise often accompanies a solution. Take heart in that as you get to know yourself — your values, priorities, goals, and needs — many decisions will come naturally.
Feel a bit more equipped to handle the tough decisions you face each day? Please share this post on Twitter or Pinterest if you’re feeling inspired and want to spread the message.