Often I make really good decisions. To often I don’t.
This is my effort to make sense of how I make sense, in particular how I sometimes make little sense. How do I make decisions and what are some of the easiest ways to mess up. I share this because I wonder if your obstacles are not remarkably similar to mine.
The concepts I use are not particularly original. To me they more or less make common sense. I look at the decision making process as comprised of 4 parts. The four parts are all related to each other and their territories to some degree overlap.
1. What….. Any decision is based on large part how I frame the issue. What happened? If I frame the issue narrowly some options I just don’t see and if I do I give them far less importance than they deserve. This is particularly true when I see things as a binary choice. Either do this to make it good or do that to make it bad. Somethings in life are either or but an amazing amount of things are not. They are not either or but both and. They are not either you win or I win but can we both win. They are not black and white but gray. Many things I may not be able to make good but I can make them better. Either /or leads you to often to feeling like you have to control things you cant control, feeling helpless and hopeless, and either striking out in blame and resentment or giving up. Making things better count and in time success acquires a momentum of its own. When I see things either/or I do often miss options that might make it better.
2. So what….. The significance of anything is often determined by the things we assume to be true. And we rarely test out those assumptions to see if they have any basis in fact. We assume often that people’s behavior is a reflection of some type of permanent trait rather than the situation that behavior occurs in. We assume we know what people feel, what they really intend to do. We regularly distort. Part of every good decision is realizing there is a possibility that you are full of shit. We regularly assume something is going to mess everything up when it is not. We regularly assume that something is going to last far longer than it really is. And we assume that things are about us, or reflect on us, or give a verdict on us that just don’t. Examine the significance you attach to any circumstance. Somethings are more a reflection of how we see than what we see.
3. Now what….. There is a difference between deciding what to do and justifying what we want to do. We can justify anything. We often mistake our reasons as why we have decided rather than a justification for what we have decided. We need perspective. When I lose perspective I make decisions based on what I think is urgent rather than what I believe is important. They may be the same thing but often, very often they are not. Simply it is important to consider before we decide and too often we do things that feel good only to find ourselves picking up the broken pieces later.
4. What Now….. Any decision works best if we see it as part of an ongoing process of changing it for the better rather than a finished product. Decisions that can’t be revised or if improved with real life evaluation leave us handcuffed to our mistakes. It isn’t a question rather or not we bend or not as much as it is a decision of rather we grow or not.
When I mess up it is frequently because I capsized in one or more of these areas. When I make good decisions they are often my road map to good decisions. People often see things as either/or that are not. We blind ourselves to other options. We often don’t check out our assumptions to see if they indeed reflect reality. We make assumptions impulsively without perspective. And we often miss our chance to make things better by not revisiting decisions made to see how they are working. It’s called being human. But we also have the ability to see options not previously seen before. We do check our assumptions against reality and we do try to insure we have perspective before we decide. And we frequently are very invested in changing what we have done to be be more successful in what we choose to do. That is also human.
I mess up but I learn. There is hope for me. And no matter how hard it is right now for you there is good also for you.