I have a long list of decisions I made that I wasn’t very satisfied with, looking back. Though none of them are devastating or life-threatening, there are always a few that prod you to have a better decision-making process.
To be fair, I have a long-list of good decisions as well. Who doesn’t? If you are brave enough to be honest with yourself, and if you have “dared” in life, you should have a list that’s pretty balanced on both sides of the ledger!
One of my favourite thinkers John Maxwell suggest in his book Today Matters that successful people make critical decisions early and manage them daily. That’s great advice for everyone.
However, what about those trivial decisions that eat our time and attention daily?
When I analyze how I make decisions and what I can do better next time, I discovered a few insights. I hope they help you make ‘new and improved’ decisions:
Dealing with the “after-feeling”
This is the emotion we experience after an action is performed. For example, the positive emotions after a workout, guilt after spending hours on the internet etc. The after feeling can be positive or negative. If we train ourselves to develop the habit of remembering the after-feeling we are likely to experience BEFORE we embark on an action, we will likely make better choices.
Breaking the pull of inertia
This is the negative, dragging, energy-sapping downward draw of the status-quo, the comfort zone. This is the reason individuals and organizations never do anything remarkable or transformation. After a great seminar, person comes into the office the very next day and experiences the familiar inertia of his old setting and loses motivation to change.Motivation, pep-up, intentions, commitments, promises – all of these may fail to negate the pull of inertia. It is not easy to break free from POI, but the surest antidote is a series of small, easy steps planned to be implemented within an immediate time frame.
Having a ‘by-product’ perspective
Whenever you place anything in your attention-space, i.e., in your priority list, importance list, agenda or overall values, always ask the question, “Is it a goal in itself, or a by-product of a large goal or principle?”. Should this be pursued or will it automatically result from another larger pursuit?
For example, wealth is a by-product of knowledge and its diligent application
Profits are a by-product of great timely customer focus.
Legacy is a by-product of devotion to excellence.
So there are serendipitous by-products that result from adhering to greater principles and values. If you chase the by-product and make them the primary goal, you will achieve less, the principle may be at risk, and you will likely end up dissatisfied and feeling empty.
Whereas, if you chase the principle, the by-product will sooner or later be achieved. More importantly, the principle will be strengthened.
It’s a nobler goal to pursue, don’t you think?
Now tell me how do you make decisions? What works for you?