Often people spend ages trying to make a decision and worry about making the right one but the reality is that whatever decision you make you are going to get a result. Its up to you to decide whether you want to learn from that result or use it to propel you to the next level.
If you exclude the obvious like deciding to harm someone, there are really no bad decisions. If you make the “wrong decision”, one which does not give you the result you hoped for then you have learned something useful which you can put to good use next time you try for that result – in other words “that way didn’t work, do something different next time”!
Often the results of bad decisions are ultimately more useful that the results of good ones. When we do things right we don’t get any learning – the learning has already been done, that’s why we got it right. And often the results of what we call at the time catastrophically bad decisions, when we look at them 5 years down the line we can see that they took us on a whole new path which has given us better results than we could ever have dreamed of.
If life was a straight path where everything went according to plan, how boring would it be really? Enjoy the roller coaster – this is the ride of your life!
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The best advice I can offer about making decisions under stress is don’t! Your brain is not working at anywhere near its full capacity when your Inner Reptile has taken over so making serious decisions is never a good idea.
However, sometimes you just don’t have any choice, so here’s a great exercise that helps you to make good decisions when you’re under pressure:
Get a large sheet of paper and divide it into as many columns as you have options. Write the option at the top of each column. Then divide each column into 2 vertically, at the top of the first smaller column write “pros” and the second “cons”.
OK, now in each column make a list of 20 pros and 20 cons for each option. If you can get to 20 easily then go for 30. Don’t stop until you are really really struggling to find any reasons…. then do another 5!
Its important you try to get an equal number of pros and cons for each one. This may take some time, some people take a whole day, I have had one client take a whole month but that was a really huge decision!! Its ok to go away and do something else and let your subconscious do the work, then when an answer pops into your head go back and write it down. It is really important also that you do that last 5, that is where you have forced your brain to think outside the box – all of the answers that come easily to you are “how your brain works now” answers, and those answers are what got you in your current situation.
Don’t discount any answers as stupid. If you want to write “I like the view from my window in my current job” that is OK, even “I like the brand of coffee they use there” is fine. In fact sometimes the sillier the answer the better!
At the end of this exercise your answer should be pretty clear.
One other thing. It is very important that you WRITE, not type. I know doing it on the computer will be neater but writing has a direct connection to your subconscious.
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It always annoys me when people say “you can’t have your cake and eat it”. I mean, what is the point of having cake if you don’t eat it? Are you just going to sit and stare lovingly at it while it grows a fur coat and starts to smell odd?
Its the same with this “all or nothing” mentality that so many people have. The truth is that nothing is totally bad, or totally good. Nothing is totally wrong or totally right. Nothing is ever black and white. Within all failure is the seed of success. It is perfectly possible for good and evil to exist in the same place at the same time.
Holding on to the belief that things are black or white makes decision making unnecessarily difficult. If you are looking for an answer that gives you ALL the answer then you’re probably going to be looking for a long time. And all the time you’re looking you are probably not taking action – so while its a great excuse for procrastination its never going to get you the results you’re looking for.
Mostly you just have to choose the best answer at the time, with the full and conscious knowledge that perhaps with hindsight you will realise you could have made a better decision, but you’d never have known this if you hadn’t taken the decision you did. If you’d known better you’d have done better. That’s what learning is all about.
Most aspects of our lives have good bits and bad bits. No job is 100% fabulous all of the time – but would you chuck in a job because some aspects of it were no fun? No relationship is 100% wonderful all of the time, how boring would that be? And do you end a relationship because a part of it is not perfect? Some people do, but they rarely find happiness. No one has the perfect life all the time, but let’s face it, its better than the alternative!
Accepting that things and people can be both ways, both good and bad, is a big part of the growing up process!
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