How to Make Better Decisions

What goes through your mind when you have to make a decision?

What goes through your mind when you have to make a decision?

Decisions are choices we make throughout the day, every day.

Everyone has times when decision making is difficult and causes a bit of stress, but occasional difficulty making decisions isn’t a major issue.

The problem occurs when you find yourself constantly unhappy with what is going on around you – especially when it seems like everyone else is having all the fun.

You may have developed a way of making decisions that is not in harmony with your deeper values. This is effectively a coping strategy and you can recognise a coping strategy because it does not have a future vision.

Common coping strategies are:

1) Freeze and take no action

The people who freeze may be taking no action but they have not stopped dwelling on it. The decision turns in their mind causing anxiety and discomfort. They may secretly be hoping that the decision will go away. Sometimes it does – if an offer runs out for example, then the choice has been taken away from them and they breathe a sigh of relief and blame circumstances for not letting them get what they wanted.

These people can wake up in ten years time and be devastated at how time and opportunity has slipped by.

2) Do something – anything!

The people who do something, anything, are determined not to let life slip by. But by making rash or impulsive decisions, they let go of the reins, make poor emotion-triggered choices and can end up somewhere they did not really want to be. Impulsiveness can be a great quality – after all, life would be dull if you ran your days to a strict agenda. The kind of impulsive behaviour that becomes a problem is when decisions are driven by a subconscious fear or some kind of avoidance.

These people can wake up in ten years time angry at how all their efforts came to nothing.

3) Let someone else make the decision

The people who let someone else make the decision fear the responsibility of consequence. As all actions have a consequence, this fear can be particularly crippling as it puts the brakes on action. The reasons are many and varied ranging from having been denied the opportunity to experience having control to hating the potential conflict from wanting something somebody else does not want.

These people can wake up in ten years time totally immersed in a life that is not their own.

4) Resignation

The people who give up and resign themselves to their fate have lost their sense of self. Their values have merged with the values of someone they perceive as more powerful – a partner, a religion, a lifestyle or a job. But they take a subservient approach based on the unshakeable certainty that they must yield to the demands of the other. They faithfully trust that the way things are is the way they must be.

These people can wake up in ten years time disillusioned and struggling to find the missing piece they believe will complete them.

Step Into Personal Empowerment

Accepting ownership of consequences and balancing responsibility with your own personal goals lets you overcome stress, enabling you to making empowering decisions.

1) Awareness

Become aware of how you are in any given context. Look for a pattern. Be honest with yourself and recognise the pattern. Recognising and admitting you have a pattern that you would like to change is the courageous first step to self-actualisation.

2) Analysis

The next thing to do is to examine the engine of this pattern. What are the fears and the behaviours that keep this pattern alive? When do they kick in? What are you thinking? What do you believe? What is the stress you feel?

3) Action

The final step is to change it. What do you want? What needs to change? What do you need to believe in order to bring out that confident person inside you?

Decisions are your stepping stones through life. Some stepping stones can be wobbly and if you are on a wobbly one and not enjoying it, there is another stepping stone close by waiting for you to recognise it and hop on.

The goal is to take ownership of your decisions and to remember that NOW is the time to fix the next ten years.

3 Responses to “How to Make Better Decisions”

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  1. Vishnu says:

    Hi Reeta – sometimes analysis and action helps. SOmetimes, not doing anything and going with whatever my heart tells me to do helps too:) Do you think our inner compass is a decision-maker? Or are we internally analyzing and coming up with solutions? It doesn’t feel that way when you’re not rationally thinking about something but just get a strong feeling to make one decision or the other.

  2. Reeta Luthra says:

    Hi Vishnu – I think our inner compass is always accurate. It’s just that things can get lost in translation on their journey to the brain.

    For example, here’s a real story of a lady in Dubai (told with permission). She acts in ways she’s “supposed” to… she’ll support her husband because she genuinely cares for him. She looks after the children because she genuinely cares for them. Now she wants a chocolate shop and needs an investment that she herself can’t give herself because she doesn’t have her own money. In her mind, it’s all “family money” which her husband “owns” although she worked for years contributing to the pot.

    Her strong feeling is to drop her dream of the chocolate shop because logic (based on her current experience of the world) tells her that she belongs in a certain role. Yet her inner compass won’t let the dream die.

    She makes chocolates in her home and sells them in a small scale. It’s not satisfying and things are tense at home as she feels her marriage is responsible for this. BUT she hasn’t discussed her dream with her husband because her gut feeling is that she belongs in a certain wifely role.

    So to answer your question… our inner compass guides us to our core values. But like a real compass, it can be disorientated by magnetic fields which in this case are self-talk, limiting beliefs etc.

    Sometimes analysis pushes through the disorientation and sometimes it’s the gut feeling that helps us get out. This lady’s rational and gut response are to keep family harmony yet her values want something in addition to that and she still needs to come to terms with her ability to allow it for herself.
    Reeta Luthra recently posted..How to Make Better DecisionsMy Profile

  3. Vishnu says:

    wow – thanks for the detailed response Reeta. that makes sense especially the inner compass guiding us to our core values!
    Vishnu recently posted..3 Sacred Paths to Living an Englightened Life (without sitting under a Boddhi tree)My Profile