From Dr. Jane's Notebook
How do you make decisions?
decisions, decisions! Each day is filled with decisions and most of the time; we
make good decisions, even excellent ones. But some of our decisions donít work
out quite the way we want. I know a lot of people who have made decisions they
regret. Maybe they didnít choose the right kind of work, maybe they think they
married the wrong person, maybe some error in judgment will affect the rest of
their lives. Weíve all made decisions right and wrong. While we canít be right
all of the time, maybe itís time to consider how we make decisions. For that, we
must understand how we think.
- Looking out, looking in.
Take a moment to consider where you focus your attention. When we look
around us, we go external and focus on the world outside ourselves, taking in
information from what we hear, see and experience. When we close our eyes, and
even when we donít, we can shift our focus to the world inside of us where we
integrate our thoughts and experiences. If we only pay attention to things
outside of ourselves, our decisions may be based solely on reflex. But if we
only think and fail to notice things around us, it is possible to jump to
conclusions that are not based on the current reality.
- Looking forward, looking
back. It is truly a miracle that our minds store memories. When we make
decisions, it is useful to be informed by our past experiences, and useful to
imagine the results of our decisions in the future. However, getting stuck in
either the past or future thinking can hamper us. Since learning accumulates,
you probably already have all the tools you need to make your best decisions
if you focus in the now!
- Facts vs. feelings.
When itís time to make decisions, we can rely on our two sources of
information. External sources include other people, consumer information
guides, books, and the internet. Internal sources include our gut reactions,
emotions, and prior experiences. Again, when making decisions, it is usually
best to consider both. If we rely strictly on information from sources other
than ourselves, we may make choices that donít really fit for us. On the other
hand, decisions made strictly on the basis of feelings may not turn out the
way we expect. For this reason, it is best to take both facts and feelings
- Hasty vs. patient.
Finally, it is valuable to think about the speed with which you make your best
decisions. Some decisions are easy to make; sometimes itís okay to be
impulsive. But other decisions have long-term effects and should be made with
great care. Problems arise when we spend too much time on the simple decisions
and too little time on complicated ones.
Again, we canít be
right all of the time but itís possible to feel more confident in your decisions
when you have covered ďall your basesĒ. Clear thinking is a skill which can be
improved. When faced with a difficult decision, try writing down your thoughts
along these dimensions. Look inside and outside of yourself, consider the past,
consider the future, check your facts and your feelings, and then whenever
possible, make your decisions within a time frame which is comfortable for you.
Each of us has a lot of decisions to make in life. The real trick is to make
your best decision before it gets made for you!
©Copyright, 2008, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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