Part of goal-setting for the new year is making decisions about staying on the same course (e.g. our job, our relationship) or leaving for a new route. This has been especially a popular topic with the start of a new decade which has made many of us feel more reflective about what we’ve achieved.
We can easily get stuck in a decision-making loop — the first thing to avoid when attempting to pick an option. It is okay to take our time making the unconscious conscious. However, let’s not take too long. Uncertainty can cause stress even for motivated people who want to achieve a goal, as well as those who badly want to make a change.
There are techniques to make wiser decisions that lead us to a happier state. It’s a matter of (1) listening to our senses, (2) being truthful about our limitations, and (3) establishing our terms and conditions.
LISTENING WITH OUR SENSES
This decision-making technique suggests imagining what we will see, hear, feel, smell, and touch if we decide to tread the same path or take the next exit. Factor in time, meaning, what will our senses experience for five, 10, 15 years, or even a lifetime, if we choose one option or the other?
Of course, we have no way of predicting the future, however, we have the resources to imagine with our senses.
Such a technique can be effective if we’re contemplating moving to a new city or country. It also works for career questions and relationship-type situations. At the end of our sensory journey, aim to answer these questions for our self:
What are the risks of this particular decision for me?
Can I do anything to manage and decrease those risks?
If I decide to do this, will I be presented with more opportunities?
Answering the question, “How does it feel in my body choosing this option?” will help us sense into a situation where we are no longer arriving at the same result as previously. The body is a very fine tuning fork that if well played has many answers that help circumnavigate the mind in the decision making process.
We will expand on using our senses for decision-making in our future discussion.
If we’re unable to gain clarity with the first technique, we may also explore a hybrid decision. This means we partially stay with the status quo while exploring a new path.
However, the important elements present in a combined decision are:
- A time frame
- A set of fulfilled conditions
For example, we can decide to stay in our job for two more years to earn enough money to get a master’s degree that will lead us to a career, aligned with our Why. Or, we can move to a new city and set a timeline of five years, before finally deciding where to stay for good.
The important values to have for this technique are a discipline to stick to a time frame and accountability for the results of the conditions we’ve set for ourselves.
DOES THIS CHOICE MATTER?
The final technique is to determine whether we even remember the outcome of our decision years from now, meaning, is THIS even a problem?
How much energy are we willing to put into a decision based on its importance? In addition, reflect on whether we have to make a choice, or is there a chance that if we stay with it for a while, it will resolve itself on its own.
Perfectionists and A-type personalities often get stuck during decision-making because the need to be in control over an outcome can feel overwhelming. This is not to say that it is bad to pay attention to details—it is the excess of it that strains and inhibits us from appreciating the bigger picture.
Using this technique encourages us to list our non-negotiable values to help us pick our battles and focus on the present. It also helps to reflect on:
- The specific things we want
- Will we know if it’s there?
- Do we have a deadline?
- With whom do we want to be when we reach a goal?
- The effect a decision will have on our family, friends, career, and our health
- What’s stopping us from fulfilling our goals at this moment?
The more we can let go of what we can’t control, the less we have to worry about. This opens up more possibilities for the resources that we have, which brings us closer to situations that fill us with joy, contentment, and peace.
“Trust your instincts, and make judgements on what your heart tells you. The heart will not betray you.” ― David Gemmell