Friday, August 9, 2013

How Do You Decide?

How do you effectively make decisions?  What new approaches are you willing to try to better make decisions?  How has the way you make decisions changed from when you were 21 to 29?  Do you make personal decisions the same way you make professional choices? 
How does Hillary Clinton decide if she wants to run for president?  That's a tough one, good luck Hillary!  I do hope she will run! I do hope you will decide to keep reading please!

I believe one of the most important things to a happy and successful life is to know where you want to be going.  You've got to know what you want, in a clear way you can visualize it so you can then take actions to make that possibility your reality.  So how do you decide what you want?  Below are some strategies I have tried, some more effectively than others.

1) Know your strengths and weaknesses and how they impact your decision making style.

One of my favorite books is Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  You actually need to buy the book rather than borrow it from a library because you need a special code to take a strengths finders assessment online.  You then read the book based on those test results.  At the end of each chapter, you learn how your different skills manifest in your interactions with others, and how they influence your decision making habits.

2) Seek out the opinions of mentors and your kitchen cabinet of close advisers.

If you are exploring a new path, seek out the advice of those established in those areas.  Go on informational interviews with many different people. Work with a career or life coach.  Also, gauge the opinions of people from different communities in your life such as your friends, family, colleagues, mentors, etc.  However, set a limit for yourself on how many opinions you will consider.  Ultimately, you need to make this decision for yourself and not be too influenced by what others think.

3) Make a list of the pros and cons of not making a certain decision.

My girlfriend who is an architect recently told me a best practice she learned from one of her professors.  Usually when we make a pros and cons list of our potential decision, we generally only list the pros and cons of making that decision.  However, we can also consider the pros and cons of not making that decision.  Her professor taught her that is the best way to prove her design was the most effective choice.  

4) Retreat and reflect.

Spend time alone to sit with and process your thoughts and feelings.  Meditate.  Spend time in nature.  Go on a retreat.  I am really excited to do my first silent retreat next week at the Omega Institute.  I'll let you know what I discover soon! 

5) Find examples of what you definitely do not want.

On the path to figuring out what we really want, learning what you really do not want can help us figure out what it is we really do want.  Even if you have a bad experience, take it as a learning opportunity to clarify what really makes you happy.  

6) Recognize how you are influenced by societal expectations, and choose how much value you place on those.

I'm about to turn 30, so I should be financially stable, have finished my education, be buying a home, be getting married, etc.  Watch for your use of the word "should."  Why do you think you should be at a certain place right now?  Is that coming from what your parents  think you should do?  Is that coming from your religious background?  Is that coming from peer pressure or the need to keep up with your peers?  Reflect on where this influence is coming from and how important that really is to you.

At the end of the day, only you can create your life, and make whatever decision is right for you.  Trust yourself! I support your path of decision making!  Please share your journey with us by commenting below.

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