Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An A to Z of personal development - decision making

“It doesn't matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off! You cannot make progress without making decisions.” ~ Jim Rohn

So often in our lives we have decisions to make. There are various techniques that can be used to aid the decision making process and I’m going to briefly run through a few of them in this posting, as part of my A – Z of personal development series.

1) Think about how you have made decisions in the past – what strategies and thought processes worked, what didn’t, what supported you, how did you handle the outcome.

2) Will your decision be in line with your values? This is so important – if your decision does not honor your values, you could self sabotage your choice, or fail to fully commit to it, and then you may feel bad that you haven’t achieved what you set out to do, or lose faith in your decision making abilities.

3) Flip a coin! This isn’t as frivolous as it sounds, as the idea is to find out what the reaction is to how the coin lands – is it disappointment, relief, a pang of fear, happiness or excitement? All these responses can give you clues into what you really want and into your underlying emotions. **

4) Work through this set of questions for each decision you need to make:

*What happens if you do
*What happens if you don’t
*What doesn’t happen if you do
*What doesn’t happen if you don’t

5) Imagine you have made the decision, (and can’t go back on it) then reflect on the emotions you are experiencing, what your initial thoughts are, who you would first tell and what you would say to them, what you are most looking forward to, and what it could be like in a years’ time. Then do the same with the alternatives. **

** my thanks to Michael Neill for these two techniques.

Additional resources:

1) In Debbie Ford’s book
The Right Questions she poses 10 thought provoking questions, such as: “Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?” and “Is this an act of self love or is it an act of self sabotage?” Clients I have worked with on decision making have found it very useful to consider all of the 10 questions – the answers often provide a new perspective and valuable insights.

2) In her book
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers suggests that one of the obstacles to decision making is our fear of being able to handle what happens to us as a result. However, if we can have the attitude that every choice we make will contain possibilities, together with the faith that we will be able to cope with what happens, then we can make decisions without being scared our choice will be wrong or that we will make mistakes.

"Whenever I'm faced with a difficult decision, I ask myself: What would I do if I weren't afraid of making a mistake, feeling rejected, looking foolish or being alone? Remove the fear and the answer comes into focus." ~ Oprah Winfrey
"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." ~ Neil Peart
"It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires great strength to decide on what to do." ~ Elbert Hubbard
"Decisions are easy when values are clear." ~ Unknown
"I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision." ~ Maya Angelou