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Decision making starts when we are small, “Do I ask Mom or do I ask Dad to read me a story?“.
It continues on throughout our childhood and teen years, “Should I go to a local college or a state college?” or “All my friends are doing it, I’ll look stupid if I don’t.“.
As an adult, decision making becomes more important than ever, “It’s time for dinner, I have a hungry family and I need to provide them with a nutritious and filling meal, what should I make?“.
Decision making is part of our day to day life but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
Have you ever felt paralyzed by decision making?
Big or small, everyday we run into roadblocks that we must work our way over, around or under.
Most of the time our decision making is done on autopilot.
Decision Making: Are all decisions this tough?
I was reading a book recently (Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think) that discussed how many food choices we make in a day.
There was a study done by Cornell University that polled regular ordinary folks about how often they used decision making in relationship to food every day.
Most people thought that they used decision making to make choices about food around 15 times a day. The truth is, it’s actually more like 200! (source)
So many of our decisions are so effortless that we don’t even have to think about it!
Our decision making requires so little mental energy that we aren’t even aware we’ve been presented with any options.
On the flip side are those decisions that keep us up at night.
The ones that give us that tense butterfly feeling in our stomach.
The ones that cause ulcers and heart attacks and gray hairs!
- Maybe you are miserable in your current job, but are terrified to leave it behind because the money is too good.
- Maybe you need to see a doctor about a pain or symptom you are having but you are terrified to be confronted with the results.
- Maybe you want another child, but you worry too much about all the “what ifs”.
Or what about those decisions you worry about that are pretty much out of your direct control?
- You worry that your kids won’t go to college.
- You worry that your spouse will cheat on you.
- You worry that you will lose your job.
Now I’m not going to tell you I’ve found the secret to easy decision making, because if I had? Well I’d write a book and make a few million ;).
“Decision Making for Dummies” by Heather Shaw 😉 (you’d buy it, right?)
Decision Making: What can we do to make it easier?
I am going to encourage you to have faith though. To listen to your gut. To pray if you are a praying person.
To accept that the only thing worse then making the wrong decision is to not make a decision at all.
Spend some time in prayer or meditation and try to get in touch with that part of you that finds decision making easy and effortless. We know it’s there. Otherwise those 200 decision making food choices we make every day would torture us all day long!
I know so many people miserable in their circumstances because they are paralyzed by fear.
Maybe it’s because I lost so many loved ones at such a young age, but I personally refuse to live like that. Life is precious and it’s short.
Worry is the absence of faith. Sometimes our decision making will involve us taking action even if we aren’t 100% certain of the outcome.
Sometimes our decision making leads us to inaction, specifically those issues that simply are not within our own control.
Worrying about those things that are not in our direct control is pointless and damaging. It’s better to release that worry and have faith that it will work itself out, and if it it doesn’t that’s when you’ll deal with it. Until that time though, it’s just lack of faith.
Do you have something keeping you up at night? Like I said last recently, you have to choose to be proactive and move forward.
Decision Making: Don’t stay paralyzed any longer
This week, I want you to release that burden. Choose to take action or to have faith (if it’s out of your control) that the problem will work itself out.
If you choose to take action:
- Be realistic. Is this in your control? If it’s not, than there is no point in stressing over it.
- Give yourself a deadline and outline your plan.
- Don’t think about the “what ifs”, you’ll cross that bridge IF you get to it. That said, don’t be hasty. Don’t decide to quit your job without a backup plan. This is why we’re outlining our plan. Decision making is made easier when you can break a big decision down into smaller steps and reevaluate along the way.
- Take the first step. Then take the next step, and keep going until you’ve done all that you can do.
- Once you’ve done all you can do…let it go. Let go of the stress, let go of the worry and start living life again.
If you choose to have faith:
- First make sure that there isn’t something you should be doing. If there is a step you can take towards making your choice, don’t put it off.
- Know that it might still linger there in the back of your mind, so have a plan for when the worry starts to set in. Praying always helps me. As well as mentally telling myself “Stop it”.
Does decision making paralyze you? Tell me in the comments. This is my decision making approach, but I’d love to hear the approach of others!
Never let decision making paralyze you again!
“In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt (1854 – 1919), 26th President of the United States