Monday, March 17, 2014

How Do I Decide ?

Life presents us with an infinite number of choices.  Almost every decision has numerous choices or options.  Which choice is right?  Which choice will make me happy?  Which choice will give me more fulfillment?  And most importantly, how do I know which option to choose?

I have been pondering on this for a while and have recently had several conversations that have brought me some clarity around this important question.  These conversations areand feel good about their decision.
 likely an answer to personal prayer, although I have yet to apply the lesson for myself.  Instead, I have simply been fortunate enough to share this thought process with people close to me as they ponder their own important decisions ... and it seems to have helped each of them to commit to a choice

It all begins with defining your core goal.

What, above all else, do you want to accomplish with this decision?

If you can define that core goal, then everything becomes easier to decide between.  I'll use a simple example to make my point.  If your core goal is to lose 5 pounds, then EVERY decision you make (from what to eat, when to eat, whether or not you exercise, etc.) is influenced or compared against that core goal.  You'll find it much easier to have the strength to avoid eating that piece of chocolate if you're truly committed to your core goal.

But how do I define my core goal?  I don't really know what main accomplishment I want to achieve in this situation.

Begin by listing those things which are important to you.  Think broadly.  Consider your bigger goals (think "life's worth" or "legacy" if that helps).  Then bring it down to two or three possible core goals.  Using the earlier example, your goal options could have been: lose weight, have more energy, or live longer through healthier eating.  Once you have that list, create a theoretical situation where you have to pick one over the others and decide what you would choose if that scenario were really happening (example: I could take diet pills to lose lots of weight ... but ... one of the side effects is less energy).  Through a relatively simple process of elimination, you'll find that one core goal always "wins" against the other goals.

This doesn't mean the other goals aren't important, but it allows you to make the majority of your decisions based on the impact to the core goal.  Almost nothing will be sacrificed related to that core goal, but your other goals can be moved to the back burner if there is ever a conflict between those priorities.  This allows you to feel good about all the little decisions that will come up later.  If you find yourself questioning your core goal too often at some point in the future, then you likely need to revisit the initial exercise and re-define your true core goal.

I would suggest that this process is not independent of your other considerations in making decisions.  I certainly advocate involving a higher power through prayer or meditation, but I also believe you will get a better answer if you've reasoned through your choices and instead of asking what to do you are asking for confirmation of the decision you have chosen.  As a parent, I am much more likely to provide comforting support to one of my children if I can tell they have really contemplated their choices and put some real effort into their preferred final decision.

Song Of The Day:
The audio quality on the youtube link is not as great, but the a capella version of "All These Things That I've Done" is fantastic on Spotify.  Sung by Boston University In Achord, this version is every bit as good as the original (linked HERE) by the Killers.  I personally prefer the a capella version, but I've shared both because people have different tastes.  The tie in with the post today is the lyrics saying "you've gotta help me out" and "you're gonna bring yourself down" although they also sing of being put on the back-burner.  Anyway, I think about choices we make and how we often seek help from others and we don't want to bring ourselves down later with stress over poorly thought out decisions.  It's also completely okay to put something else on the "back burner" if it is not as important.  In fact, you'll likely be unhappy on some level until you do prioritize to your core goal (or goals).


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