How to Make Better Decisions
It may come as no surprise that the quality of our life, relationships and career and that of our coaching clients, is created by the ability to make sound decisions. In fact, anything and everything we deal with day-to-day is improved by our ability to make better decisions. Below I will have a downloadable, free form for you, that you won't want to miss.
Isn't it interesting then, that so few of us are ever taught how to make decisions? And how many of us struggle with decision making?
It is not unusual when we are stuck, to ask another’s advice. Maybe we feel we need to research our options more. Yet we can still be unsure. After all, there are consequences!
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all
without reproach, and it will be given him.” ~ James 1:5
If we make a wrong decision, it can turn our entire life upside down. If we succumb to temptation, it can jeopardize our job, relationships and most certainly our diet!
Many of us recognize our challenges with making better decisions. We have subscribed to one of the following labels … describing ourselves as a procrastinator, perfectionist or over thinker.
Having trained thousands of coaches, one thing is for sure. We cannot navigate life well without a moral compass or without defining our values. In fact, making decisions that conflict with our values is one of the greatest causes of stress in our lives.
Unclear choices can leave us bewildered and disoriented.
Inner conflict can even make us ill if we don’t get a handle on the situation.
Yet if we are not confident about our choice, the more we think about it, the further we get mired in analysis paralysis. This has happened to me and I suspect to most of us.
I heard recently that a majority of our decisions are already made in our subconscious mind by the time we reach adulthood. It takes a deliberate focus to revise those decisions for better ones.
Certainly we should pray about your decisions, then listen to that still, small voice. But in practical terms, we still need to walk this out.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your
own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6
It’s not as simple as making a new decision to do things differently. If we don’t remain present with that new decision, when the time comes, our subconscious will take over and we are back on the same, old track.
But it’s really not your fault. It’s not that you are weak-willed. Rather it is because of the way our brain is created to function. It is to keep us safe. Neuroscientists now know that our brains will always default to what is known and safe. Many generations ago, in more dangerous times, our very survival was at stake. But that's not the case today and we will need to retrain our brains for better results. There are a couple ways to do this. The first is prayer.
If we can identify the problem and understand it, we can work towards changing our default decision ... but sometimes we can't. In those cases we need to ask God for revelation, as in, "Lord, show me what I might be missing here." Furthermore, if we see that a change is needed but we don't have a strong desire to decide to make that change, we can pray and ask God to change our mind and heart. The latter works really well for people who know they need to lose weight but don't have strong, internal motivation. Prayer and God can change all that. An example of such a prayer might be, "Lord, please give me the desire to eat only what is healthy for me."
The human brain subconsciously makes decisions we are highly familiar with because we have made them over and over again and they are deemed safe. The subconscious brain doesn't discriminate and will repeat decisions even if they weren’t the right decisions and we lived to regret them. Our brain favors the familiar over better, lesser known alternatives.
This being a presidential election year, the news reminds us frequently now, about voting habits. So many of us vote for the same political party every time, predictably so, even if the results are disappointing. The polls tell us this. And the rationale is, “My parents voted this way and that’s why I vote this way.” Or, “I have always voted a straight party ticket and always will.” Why??? We continue to believe the same rhetoric we always hear from candidates we deem as "safe" choices.
Is there a better way? That will be our challenge.
Neuroscience suggests we keep repeating our choices because our pre-frontal cortex is rather lazy and would rather our default (subconscious) settings take over certain repetitive decisions, so that we don’t have to spend too much time educating ourselves, in this case on new candidates and issues. Sometimes it works out well but often not because new issues and options arise.
Our brain favors the familiar over better,
lesser known alternatives.
We are in a new day with new challenges and we need new answers. With new global threats, what got us here, won't get us there, to the kind of future we say we want.
This year’s election will define who the United States will be as a country. We must become a highly EDUCATED electorate in order to make better decisions. If not, we could make mistakes at the polls that are impossible to reverse in our lifetime. Today I am using the elections as an example so enough said on the topic for now.
(And don't worry. Even though I am a degreed Political Scientist, I almost never discuss politics in a public forum. So if that's not your thing, it's safe to keep reading and return for more great stuff!)
Let’s all take a deep breath and focus back on the topic of making better decisions.
So how do we improve our decision making process?
First we need to acknowledge our predisposition to repeat the same decisions again and again. Then we need to get super clear about our current values. Values do change over time as we grow and learn. As we mature, we are able to prioritize our values and they will begin to define who we are, based on our decisions.
I have a phenomenal values exercise in the Christian Life Coach training course that you may already be familiar with if you took the CCLC course.
That said, we have to admit though, that there are major decisions that occur rarely in a lifetime. They may involve career choices, selecting what college to attend, deciding who to marry or even IF you should marry, and more. There are also less major, yet important decisions about what car to buy and whether or not to continue a friendship that has been declining.
Know Someone Who Needs Help
Making Better Decisions?
To help with making major decisions carefully and thoughtfully
for the best outcome, I have a complimentary, downloadable,
value-driven result form, the Decision Making Template© for you today.
(As always, pray for wisdom as you do this.)
Just enter your contact info for immediate access!
Now I would love to hear from you. What types of decisions have you struggled with? Did you go it alone with just you and God, or seek a coach or other professional to help? What did you learn in the process?
Please leave your comments in the section provided below!
© 2016 by Leelo Bush, PhD
“Leelo Bush, PhD is recognized globally as a Christian Coach training curriculum creator, speaker, host of the Reach Higher Show (http://reachhighershow.com) and innovator as well as a marketplace ministry and business training expert.
Discover your hidden potential with her FREE 5-Minute Success Predictor Quiz at https://pccca.org/welcome/