Every option seems to have a downside. How do I know what’s best? I’m so confused,” a friend recently complained.
My friend was caught in a quandary familiar to many of us. After losing a well-paying job and pounding the pavement for months to find another, an excellent opportunity had just come up – but it required moving out of state. Now a decision had to be made: stay on unemployment and hope for something to turn up locally, uproot the family to accept the offer out of state… or consider something different altogether?
Every option offered potential benefits as well as the potential for failure. The conversation reminded me of six principles of effective decision-making that the school of life taught me.
1. Decision-making is easy when there are no discrepancies in your value system
Fact is, there are decisions to be made every moment of life. Over time, these choices tend to unfold as failure or success, fulfillment or disappointment, or any of the myriad choices in between. So how can we optimize decision-making and minimize the downside?
A clear understanding of your core values will help you choose well at the decision-making junctions of life. These inner values and your emotions around them form an integral part of the decision-making process. Awareness of your core values makes it easier for you to choose options that are in harmony with those values. In the example above, a bit of probing help my friend recognize her core values, which includes being able to provide for her family. Once she recognized this core value, it was easier for her to embrace the idea of working out of town for a while instead of clinging to the security of the known.
2. Effective decision-making deals decisively with fear
I’ve found that most folk who cling to the comfort and security of their known environment, are doing so from fear: fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of making mistakes. If you want to make great decisions, you absolutely need to evict fear from your life. It is a dream killer and a useless waste of energy!
3. Effective decision-making looks at content as well as context
Your inner values and desires constitute the immediate content of your decisions. Beyond that inner world of content, effective decision-making also requires you to consider relevant factors in your external environment. When external factors are ignored, even great decisions can lead to failure. In the example above, some of the external factors my friend needed to consider included the timing of the job offer, overall economic conditions, the availability of other opportunities, and how each decision might impact the family.
4. Effective decision-making requires you to be truthful
Decisions based on inner truth lead to empowerment. Choices that compromise your truth, lead to conflict and confusion.
Socrates observed that each of us chooses what we believe to be optimal, given our level of awareness and insight at the time. Our choices create a resonant frequency field which attracts resonant energies and repels dissonant frequencies. Over time, particles of probability in this attractor field evolve into possibilities that manifest as reality. Our thoughts and choices ultimately manifest as things, so it behooves us to focus on truth!
You cannot live an authentic life while dishonoring your inner truth. There comes a time for each of us when we must choose to honor our truth and let the chips fall where they may. As Marianne Williamson has said, our playing small does not serve the world.
The Course in Miracles teaches that Truth is not frail. Truth can withstand the demands of the ego. It can surmount envy, misconceptions and judgment, because it needs no defense.
True power lies in choosing from within, from the strength of having owned your fears, from the gentleness that you carry with grace. Each time you choose to honor your truth, you are creating more resonance to empower your journey.
5. Effective decision-making needs focused intention
Do you know what is really motivating you? A great way of drilling down to your true intention is by asking yourself effective questions. Answering these questions will help you uncover patterns of self-sabotage, fear or compromise so you can make clear decisions. Author Debbie Ford outlines great questions in her book, The Right Questions. Here are a few:
- Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future or keep me stuck in the past?
- Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment or short-term gratification?
- Am I standing in my power or am I trying to please another?
- Am I looking for what is right or for what is wrong?
- Will this choice add to my life force or rob me of energy?
- Will I use this situation as a catalyst to grow or as an excuse to beat myself up?
- Does this choice empower or disempower me?
- Is this an act of self-love or is it an act of self-sabotage?
- Is this an act of faith or is it an act of fear?
6. Effective decision-making requires involvement of body, mind and soul
Finally, sound decision-making requires that you listen to the subtle messages within you at all levels: body, mind and soul. You can learn to tap into your innate wisdom by cultivating healthy connections among your body, mind and soul. Each of these levels communicates in different ways. Take time for meditation or contemplation. It will help you stay centered and at peace. Remain aware of your spiritual core guiding you through the physical challenges of life, and you will become effective at decision-making.
Once you’ve made a decision, stay flexible and embrace ambiguity. As additional information surfaces, you may want to adapt to it. Remember, change is usually a messy process! Flexibility makes it easier to navigate through change so you can optimize outcomes.
©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.