What is a decision?
The dictionary says a decision is a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration; the process of resolving a question.
That doesn’t sound so scary, yet for many, just the thought of having to make an important decision like who to marry, what career to pursue, or what house to buy can be terrifying.
The reason why you don’t want to make a decision is that you are afraid you’ll make the wrong one.
But what if I told you that you could be happily married to any man, with any career, living in any house. Would you believe me?
A husband. A career. A house. They do not make you happy. The only thing that has any impact on your happiness is you, and your thoughts. Always.
The next time you have a decision to make consider these 5 tips:
1. There is no right decision.
When you believe that there is one right choice, and all others are wrong or less desirable, it creates unnecessary pressure. If the choices were between one awesome thing and one lousy thing, it really wouldn’t be a decision.
A decision implies that you are choosing between more than one good thing with nearly equal pros and cons. But can you open your mind to the possibility that there is more than one right decision?
I recently heard this phrase that has brought peace to many of my decisions. There is “a” way not “the” way. Your way might look different than mine, and that is ok. Our decisions will be different based on our experiences, values, and goals. Many different ways, not a single way.
2. Excessive time researching and thinking don’t always produce a better decision.
“Analysis paralysis” refers to the effect too much information has on our ability to mentally process and filter data. And it is real.
We have moved several times, and each time I do practically the same thing. I spend hundreds of hours researching the area, housing market, and available inventory months before a decision actually has to be made. In some cases before a job offer arrives! What you likely know is that whatever is available when you are looking might not be available when you are buying. You can research too much!
Did 100 hours produce a different result than 50 hours? At what point did the research become unnecessary to the decision-making process? If I am being honest, it was probably well before the 50-hour mark.
Ironically, the home we live in now I found during the first 10 hours.
Collin Powell is known for several things, but making decisions is one of the hallmarks of his leadership. He says “every time you face a tough decision you should have no less than 40% and no more than 70% of the information you need to make the decision.”
There are risks with too little and too much information and research. Learn to listen to your gut. Trust yourself. Commit to standing behind your decision.
3. Making a decision is better than doing nothing.
Not making a decision is in fact a decision. But unlike a decision that moves you in one direction or another, not making a decision is a choice to stay stuck or confused.
If you’re unable to make the decision to accept a new job, you have rejected it by default. If you’re unable to make an offer on a house, someone else may purchase it from under you.
Not making a decision is rejecting possibilities ahead of time.
I love this from my mentor Brooke Castillo “Indecision pretends to be responsible, but really it’s just procrastination.”
Your brain, and mine, will always prefer what is known to the unknown. Once you know it, you can use it to your advantage. “Thank you brain for your input, but we are going to do something different and I know you can handle it.”
4. Decisions are not set in stone, you can change your mind about anything at any time.
Decisions are not as final as you think they are. People change jobs, spouses, and houses all the time. Very few decisions are permanent. The situation you were in at the time of one decision, may not be the situation you will be in the future. New circumstances require new decisions. It doesn’t mean that your initial decision was wrong.
I remember thinking “if we were supposed to be in Texas, why did we build a house in Arizona that we only lived in for four years?” I happen to value efficiency and the discrepancies in these two choices we thought were right bothered me.
Often we are too focused on the destination and miss the beauty of the journey. We learned so many things through building a home, living in that neighborhood, meeting those people, and being near our family. Decisions are ultimately experiences.
Living in Arizona was the right decision until our circumstances changed, and then it was no longer the right choice. That fact doesn’t mean that the decisions before were wrong. Each decision was part of our journey that brought us here.
5. YOU determine whether or not a decision is a good one.
Ruth Chang is a philosopher who gave a great Ted talk on How to Make Hard Choices. She says that we “create reasons” for ourselves that make our choices good. We create those reasons with our thoughts.
We just celebrated the one year anniversary of our home purchase in Texas. It represents a number of decisions that were made and acted upon over the last several years.
But were they good decisions?
Most days I think they were good, and other days when the roof leaks and the trees are diseased, I second guess myself. On those days it is very tempting to believe we bought the wrong house and that the right house wouldn’t have these problems.
That the right decision would prevent us from unexpected expenses or inconvenience.
That the right decision would guarantee happiness.
It doesn’t work that way.
No matter what job you take, the home you buy, man you marry, or state you move to… your life will have moments of joy and sorrow. There is no decision that can bypass that truth. Knowing, embracing, and accepting that can take much of the fear out of the decision-making process.
You are the only person capable of making a decision well. Reclaim your power and use it.
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