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We’ve all had to make decisions. When they are profound or important, we call them ‘do or die’ – and since we’ve all been there, there’s no need to explain it much further. But you know what? We’ll all be back. Because we’re human – and sitting on the fence, pondering a decision – it comes with the territory. We’re not talking about those times when it is necessary to face major life decisions. Nope. We’re referring to those less critical, normal, everyday decisions – the kind of a decisions that we can get stuck agonizing over only to find later that we spent too much time and energy as we refined our ambivalence. Wellness coaches see this A LOT in our coaching interactions.
It all comes down to that final moment when we have to trust ourselves and just dive in – and for Pete’s sake, just choose! We can review, analyze and get opinions from others all we want, but in the end it’s still the same: we need to listen to our Inner-Voice or our Inner-Wisdom and just decide. This is where so many of our clients get stuck! Here is a list of some great decision-making tips. This is a way to supplement Decisional Balance.
Use these ideas on yourself first and then see if your client can select a few usable types from among them, taking into account the nature of the decision the client needs to make.
Depending upon the importance (importance ruler, anyone?), type and immediacy of the decision pending, some of these tips and tools will be more useful and applicable than others. Now, don’t get stuck trying to decide which type of tool to use!
Tips to Simplify Decision-Making
This process is ideal for those times when a client is stuck in indecision mode and can be quite valuable. To do so, simply have the client Stop action the next time they are struggling to make a choice. The next step – to take a deep breath and pay close attention to what is happening during this internal struggle. Have the client take Notice of the details of their breathing, posture and any tension in their muscles. Encourage the client to notice the prison of indecision created by their own mind – are they telling themselves that the choice is critical? Are they stressing out wondering whether they should go one way or another with something? Just have them take notice. Then the final step – to take another deep breath and, using intuition, simply Choose.
Notes: This technique is useful when clients have already over-analyzed a situation or when the stakes are not too high to risk an unanalyzed choice.
2. Ask their “Joint Chiefs” what they would do. The client shouldn’t worry if they don’t have an actual Joint Chiefs committee… but this technique involves some active imagination and is maybe one of those phenomenon’s that are often better accessed while in the shower.
When they have a few minutes of solitude, have clients close their eyes and bring to mind a large oak table in a vast meeting room – perhaps a room with large windows overlooking a forest and creek. Now have them picture their ideal committee sitting around the table — all of them present to help them in their decision-making process. The Joint Chiefs can be anyone they choose, presently living or not, and real or animated.
They can vary who they “invite” to sit on their committee, depending upon the type of decision they’re making. Donald Trump, if it’s a decision about real estate; Martha Stewart if it’s to make a social call….you get the point; an entire baseball team if they’re making a decision based on good teamwork input or John F. Kennedy, if making a leadership decision.
Have the client go ahead and put anybody around that imaginary table that their big heart desires. Now put the decision in question before their committee. Encourage them to take on the voice of any and all of their Committee Members as they each say what they would do. When they have had enough input, thank them all and send them on their way. Emerge from the “session” (or shower) with a fresh perspective on the decision.
Notes: This is one of the best tools because it also allows imagery. It can be used in either the beginning or final phases of making decisions that are as important as whether or not to hire a specific employee, or which product to sell, or as simple as which color to paint their office.
3. Act “as if” for an hour or a day. This tool also requires some imagination. If they are deciding between two options (i.e. deciding which of two new pieces of office equipment to purchase) or two actions to take (i.e. deciding whether to attend a week-long seminar or stay home and work on that new book), this technique will be helpful in the decision between the two options they’re considering.
Depending upon how much time they have available, and also depending upon how big of a choice this is, set aside an appropriate time period (1 hour, 1 day, 1 week).
For that entire period, instruct the client to act “as if” they have decided on Option A. Get into it. Absolutely pretend that they have decided on this option, are excited about the choice, and get on with the rest of that period “as if” they’d really made the choice. Put aside any consideration for the other option. Don’t even think about it.
Teach the client to speak “as if” they’ve made the choice for Option 1, try it out by telling someone else they made the choice, and feeling the freedom of having made a decision. Now, when the hour, day or week ends, go ahead and set another time period aside, identical in duration.
Now they will act “as if” they in fact, made the choice for Option 2. The same guidelines apply. Talk, walk, and act “as if” you’ve opted for Option 2. When the entire experiment is over, they will have a much better idea of which Option is the right one for them. This is really close to performing a decisional balance exercise. In the end, it gives the client more choice and re-powers their self-confidence and self-esteem.