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Addressing Decision-Making & Kicking Procrastination

Self-management involves making decisions. The more you make conscious decisions rooted in your sense of self is the better choices you make, and also the more you increase your self-knowledge when things don’t work out as you need or expect.

If you’ve struggled around decisions, it will be for one or all of the following reasons:

1. You have a negative association regarding making decisions, so you perceive drawing a conclusion after consideration of the information and then following through with a resolution as a loss. This can come from fear of getting things ‘wrong’, of ‘failing’, and even a fear of missing out so attempting to hedge your bets.

2. You are making some automatic decisions with little thought, even if they are choices that are working against you as part of an unhealthy pattern. With these decisions, you get the trigger or the cue, and your mental computer crunches the date and compares it with previous decisions you’ve made, and you get a ‘match’ even if it’s based on rogue and flawed data and you proceed. There can be all sorts of data in there including being influence by certain factors that you get blinded by or that sense of feeling afraid and based on responding in certain ways to that fear in previous times, you respond the same way again.

3. The decisions that you struggle over are ones where you don’t have anything to compare it to or that even if you do, you are stuck on something. It’s the ‘brick wall’ that you’re sitting on that will have you flip-flapping on the decision and essentially sitting on the fence in your own life.

Whichever it is, you need to evaluate which triggers and cues bring out responses based on negative associations and then work out what your response tends to be. You will see if you compare a few similar decision situations, there will be a pattern.

Should I move back to my home town?      

Keep thinking about going back
Keeping thinking about staying where you are
Worry about if you feel differently in 5 years
Feel increasingly homesick
Feel like you ‘should’ make a decision
Start working out what you will need to do
As plans take hold, begin reconsidering
Have a great day/week, reconsidering continues
Decide to stay
Worry about whether you’ve been too hasty
Something ‘bad’ happens, think you should move

 

Should I break up with my ex?

Keep thinking about going
Keeping thinking about staying where you are
Worry about if you feel differently in 5 years
Feel increasingly stifled
Feel like you ‘should’ make a decision
 Start working out what you will need to do
As plans take hold, begin reconsidering
Great day/week, reconsidering continues
Decide to stay
Worry re whether you’ve been too hasty
Something ‘bad’ happens, think you should break up

 

And lather, rinse, repeat

Your cues and triggers may continue, but it’s the responses to the triggers that need to be addressed.

Also, work out what your primary reasons are for avoiding making decisions or undoing them:

  • Is it because of how you fear that you will look?
  • Is it about fear of getting it ‘wrong’?
  • Are you afraid of failure?
  • Are you trying to have the best of both worlds?
  • Are you afraid that if you say YES to this that you’ll have to say NO to something else?
  • Are you afraid that if you say NO to this that all other opportunities will be removed?
  • Are you afraid of the consequences of being ‘assertive’?
  • Do you know what you want but keep getting a voice telling you that maybe you should want something else?

Certainly, you should not be making decisions about something without knowing what your needs are in the first place because you’ve made a decision by essentially peeing into the wind.

In the example above, the person would work out what their needs are in terms of lifestyle and where they live, what their goals are over the medium to long-term and also consider what their life has been like there in the prior three years. If they’ve felt dissatisfied, they would need to evaluate what is it that has them considering the move in the first place.

With regards to the relationship, they work out what their personal needs are as well as their relationship needs and then cross reference with the relationship. You cannot make a decision to be in or stay in a relationship without being clear on what your needs are otherwise you will wake up in a relationship that leaves you hungry, you won’t understand why, and then you’ll try to make them meet your needs and are likely to encounter resistance.

What is happening here when you consider your needs is…. consideration. It is the fact-finding, questioning and clarification stage in the decision-making process.

  • If you do not consider all known information related to the decision, you’ll make an unsound decision.
  • If all you consider is that you ‘love’ someone without considering the fact that your needs are not being met and you’re actually considering the love of someone within an abusive relationship, that’s a dodgy decision.
  • If all you consider about moving is that it would be a ‘big move’ or that you might feel like moving in five years, you will neglect to realise that if it’s the right move for your needs, ‘big’ doesn’t matter and that you still need to consider the five years in between. Why think so far ahead when you’re not even dealing with now and the medium-term? It’s like signing on to stagnate until the future.

Make your decision based on consideration. Don’t make decisions – unless it’s about being in a danger situation -based solely or the majority on fear. Base your decisions on knowledge because fear is about what’s not actually happening (if it were it wouldn’t be fear; it would be knowledge) and knowledge is based on reality.

Give up this idea of perfection. There are no perfect circumstances, there is no perfect outcome, and there’s certainly no such thing as a perfect decision. You must make the best decision that you can with the information that you have right now. Don’t go on some quest to search for the right answer for years on end – it does not need to take years to make a decision.

You can make a decision on at least 60% of the information. What I’m basically saying is that you do not need 100% of the information in order to make a decision. Work with what you have. Yes, you can give you some time, but limit the time because the truth is, giving yourself more and more time to gather information is procrastination.

When you make a decision, you need to see it through for a reasonable length of time before you reconsider. It doesn’t matter if you have to tweak later down the line – life is about on the job training and decisions are about trial and error. There are no perfect decisions. Whatever you learn from this decision will help you to make a better decision next time around. Basically, you shouldn’t be reconsidering immediately especially if the decision you made was with regards to something medium to long-term going forward or was based on knowledge gained from a situation that had been going on for a lengthy period of time.

When you keep bouncing back and forth on a decision, making it, unmaking it, making it, unmaking it, this shows that you are not allowing you to make mistakes and going through the trial and error plus it also means that you’re not making a decision.

Basically, put yourself behind the decision. Don’t make it and then immediately start thinking about the other decision because that’s being non-committal. If you make a decision, that’s where your thoughts and energies should be focused – on supporting it.

Find out what your needs are, align your decision-making, actions and thinking in that direction and trust your gut. If you have spent some time gathering self-knowledge – see this class – you can make decisions. If you don’t know how to make decisions, it’s because you haven’t done the work to gather data on who you are – do that work. This will provide information for your gut, and the more that you go through trial and error and learn from your experiences is the stronger that your gut gets.

If you are making a decision on a situation and the amount of time it is taking you to make that decision is disproportionate to the situation itself, you are not actually attempting to make a decision – you’re burying your head in the sand and avoiding admitting the truth while hoping that you can correct a bad situation. I hear from people who were faced with a decision at three months into a relationship and three years later are still struggling.

Lack.of.self.knowledge.and.lack.of.commitment.and.reality.

It’s tough to get over something or someone if you make what was a good decision and then basically undermine it with your subsequent actions. Difficult decisions don’t always come with an immediate reward especially if, for instance, you make the decision to end a bad relationship and then you keep engaging. Why would you be ‘rewarded’? The decision is not truly made.

Get real about the consequences. The consequences of not making a decision are far greater than making a decision. The overwhelming majority of decisions are not devastating, and the truth is, if you acknowledge why the decision was made in the first place, you will see evidence to support your decision. It’s why I find myself scratching my head when readers wonder if they made a bad decision about someone who right as they’re questioning themselves, is actually behaving in ways that exemplify why they made the decision.

Never unmake a decision on the basis that if you undo it, the other person will change to what you want. This will keep you out of a lot of trouble. Make decisions for you, not for other people.

Slow yourself right down and become aware of your triggers, cues, and responses around decisions and also ensure that you understand where you are likely to procrastinate – there is a worksheet on nailing your procrastination triggers. Grab it from the activities section in the module.

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