“If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.”
– Mark Twain
When we are uncomfortable, it is easy to jump and make a change impulsively without weighing the consequences of an unguided decision. We may unwittingly ‘jump out of the frying pan and into the fire’ by getting out of one situation, only to end up in a worse one.
For example, a particularly common occurrence is jumping from one relationship to another or changing jobs frequently because we don’t like our boss, or coworkers. Oftentimes, we can end up in a worse situation by having more problems in the new relationship or job than we did in the old one.
Even if we don’t choose to leave a relationship or quit our job; having a prolonged bad attitude can cost us the loss of a partner or job just the same.
Therefore, rather than just exchanging mates or changing jobs; it may be more important to look at our own attitudes and judgments and see how we might be contributing to the ineffective results we are experiencing.
By looking at our own behavior and reactions, we will be less likely to give our power away every time we encounter someone we don’t like, and disrupting our lives as a result.
So it is good to weigh our decisions carefully to avoid experiencing the ‘heat’ from making poor choices. Many of us have metaphorically ‘put our hand on the stove’ and gotten ‘burned’ a number of times. Hopefully, we learned essential information and wisdom from it and found better ways of making decisions as a result.
Making effective decisions is not just a matter of luck; but a matter of self-reflection.
By honing in on what is truly meaningful to us; we will make more informed decisions that complement the direction we desire to travel.
First, we have to know the direction we wish to go. Too often, we rush into random actions without knowing what the ultimate destination is. By relaxing and surveying our mind’s eye and heart for exactly what we want and need; we are better able to forecast possible outcomes that serve our situations the best.
Below are some ways we can weigh our decisions and actions more carefully:
- If we are not sure what course of action to take in a present situation, or what decision to make, we can give ourselves the necessary time and space until we receive more clarity. Often, we can get clarity by thinking about what we would tell a friend or client who was facing the exact situation we are and see what advice we would give to them. This mental exercise can give us the objectivity and distance we need to see the situation from a less personal position, and not be clouded by negative emotions or biases.
- Once we know what we want, we can start to set goals and outline what steps are needed to complete the goal before us. We can gather information and lay out a blueprint of the big picture and take the necessary day to day actions needed as well. It is important to note that there is usually no rush to make a change or meet a goal. This helps us avoid any undue pressure or forcing a solution when we are feeling stressed.
- There is not necessary a universally right or wrong answer to a problem but there is a best one for us and our particular situation. Usually, if we feel excessively anxious or nervous about a decision we are making, it tends to be one that may not be the best for us. If we feel empowered and good about the particular decision that is a huge indicator we are most likely on the right track. If we have spent quiet time alone and sorted out our true desires, we will usually feel good about our choices.
- Listing our options on paper is a huge help because we can then see them in black and white and not from the sometimes fuzzy, undefined thoughts in our head. Writing out some possible outcomes for decisions we are attempting to make, usually helps us map out the best choice.
Fortunately, there are some decisions or goals that require less information or contemplation and just need action. For example, if our goal is to be physically fit, then making a workout schedule we can routinely follow is often all that is needed. That way we don’t have to revisit our schedule repetitively.
If we concentrate our energy in the right places, we don’t waste it on the small stuff.
What helps you make good decisions?
Begin to ask yourself what you would tell a loved one if they came to you with the same concerns you are struggling with today. See what revealing answers and decisions you come up with.