From Dr. Jane's Notebook
Brush up on your decision-making skills
Life is a series
of decisions which we make on a moment to moment basis. Some are easy and
automatic; others are difficult and perplexing. Eventually, our decisions string
together and become life directions. To help us make these decisions, we are
equipped with instincts, intelligence, experiences and intuition, all of which
are available for our use. For those who wish to brush up on their decision
making skills, consider the following sources of information.
- Internal versus External
Data. When making decisions, consider both external and internal sources
of information. From outside of ourselves, we can gather opinions from others
and we can consider how we will fit into a certain environment. On the inside,
we can listen to our own wisdom, our reactions and evaluate any “red flags”
(or internal “pop-ups”) that may be urging us to accept or reject a particular
decision. For example, imagine being offered a job which seems to have a wide
variety of benefits and opportunities for growth, but which also requires
significant travel and overtime. Externally, the job may be appealing, but
internally, red flags may be warning us of severe conflicts with our family
- Present Time versus the
Future. Decisions of all kinds are influenced by our time orientation.
When we choose to save our money rather than spend it, we may be making a
decision based on some thought of the future. When we choose to break our diet
for momentary pleasure rather than stick to our determination, we may be
ignoring the future in favor of gratification right now. As a human being,
sometimes it’s important to be spontaneous; sometimes it’s more important to
be self-disciplined and mindful of our long-range goals. Clear decision-making
takes into account the present and the future, as well as the hard-learned
lessons of the past.
- Thoughts versus Feelings.
As we weigh the pros and cons of our decisions, that familiar small voice
within us almost always offers us important guidance. When it comes to many
life-time decisions, such as marriage, mistakes are sometimes made when we
fail to listen to that voice within, or when we assign greater value to
feelings over thoughts. In the case of marriage, our thoughts may suggest that
it is too late to change our decision or that we might hurt someone if we fail
to follow through; while our feelings may be kicking, screaming and literally
yelling at us not to say “I do”, to halt, desist, and take more time.
While the guilt of disappointing others is painful, few things are as painful
as a lifetime based upon a wrong turn in the road due to guilt and resentment.
- Completion versus
Open-mindedness. It feels great to complete a task and be able to check it
off of our list. However, there is little value in checking things off our
list if the task has not been adequately completed. Achieving a satisfactory
balance between completion and open-mindedness is important. Consider the
problem of buying a new car. If we buy the first car we look at without
comparison shopping, our decision may be driven by impatience and our desire
to own a car as quickly as possible. On the other hand, if we do too much
comparison shopping, we can literally flood ourselves with choices. At times,
we must impose deadlines and literally force ourselves to narrow down our
choices, lest we become overwhelmed and immobilized by the process.
It is difficult to
make good decisions. We learn certain guidelines from our families; others from
our own experiences. But as we mature, old habitual ways of making decisions may
need revising. With increasing maturity, we can learn to trust our own
perceptions and be less influenced by guilt or pressure from others. A good
place to start is by listening to that still, small voice within you that is
based upon all of your life experiences. When your unconscious mind speaks know
that it speaks with your very best interest at heart. Through trial and error,
we become the true experts about our experiences. Making decisions that are
right for us is a precious freedom and a personal reward for our efforts.
©Copyright, 2006, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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