“Am I making the right decision?”
“I just can’t seem to make any decision. I feel paralyzed.”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had many conversations about evaluating and making decisions. I believe we each have it within us to make decisions that feel great and feel right, if we only re-frame the way we approach them.
My first question for anyone struggling with a decision is:
what filters are you applying to make your decision?
I often get a blank stare. Here’s what I mean.
When making decisions, we force our heads to think through a lot of options, scenarios and forecasts. We try to predict, we try to keep everyone and everything in mind. What we often lose in the process is… ourselves.
If you’re struggling to make a decision or want your decisions to feel stronger, here’s what has worked for me.
1. Identify your core values. If you haven’t already, the quickest way to do this: go through this list of values, pick your top 20; then narrow it down to 15, then 10, and then 5; sit on those 5 for a few days to check that they really do resonate.
2. Write out your definition for each of your top 5 values. We all define and view words a bit differently, and it’s important for you to get clear for yourself, to know what you really mean.
As an example, one of my core values is intimacy. Many associate intimacy with only a romantic act or relationship. To me, intimacy means deeply meaningful, intentional, and attentive relationships with everyone in my life, not just my romantic partner.
3. From your core values, build 3 guiding filters. These can be worded the same way, or in a different way, whatever works best for you. These will be the filters you use to evaluate every decision against.
For example, mine are:
- learning & challenge
- contribution & meaning
- resources earned (time & money)
4. When you’re faced with a decision, evaluate it based on your 3 filters. Here’s the key: most decisions won’t meet all 3 criteria and… that is OK! Choices and trade-offs are what rock our world and as long as you’re conscious of acknowledging what those are, you’re on the right track.
5. If 2/3 filters are met- great! Consider how else in your life you can fulfill your 3rd filter- after all, your top 3 are must-haves and if your decision around work/volunteering/play isn’t meeting all 3, you will want to work on incorporating it into your life through a different avenue.
6. What does this choice ENABLE you to do? We often consider what doors will close when we make a certain decision, but we don’t consider what making that decision would enable us to do.
Would it free up some time that we could spend with family/friends/important projects instead? Would it remove some stress, worry, heaviness and allow our creativity to flow? Would it allow us to save away to fulfill a big hairy audacious goal? Would it enliven us? Would it allow us to come from a place of abundance? Would it enable choice and freedom?
Trade-offs are hard to make, but when we look at the whole picture, when we look at what we could get, just as much as what we would be giving up, we’ll make fuller, long-term focused choices.
7. Do a gut check. Does this feel good? Is it a #heckyes feeling? What is your heart saying? If you’re struggling to hear your gut, try committing to a decision to yourself on someone else, and seeing how you feel in the morning.
8. Commit. Decision-making is great, but taking the next stop and DOING is where the magic happens.
You got this.