Decision cubeI’ve discovered that I make decisions while talking with other people.

It feels strange to me, because I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert.  But this requires actual human interaction, right?

I think it’s because I can go round and round in my head, it becomes an echo chamber of indecision.

Once I recognized this about myself, I realized that there’s some big traps I can fall into: I can become TOO responsive to others’ opinions.  So here are my principles for how to use these discussions.

1. For emotional decisions, take time to internalize.  I’ve found that decisions with high emotional content are easy to make without considering all the implications.  Whether it’s positive or negative emotions, they tend to outweigh the rational side of my brain, and I tend to disregard long term consequences.  I’ve learned to insert extra time so that I can come to the proper balance.

2. Having agreement doesn’t mean the decision’s made.  A good discussion is often one where differences are resolved and we come to agreement.  But it’s quite possible to agree in the moment, then have additional considerations surface afterward.

3. The best decision isn’t always liked.  I’m a people pleaser, so I find myself saying “yes” in the moment.  But that “yes” always hides a “no” to something else that I could be doing with my time and resources.  I have to consider the broader consequences.

Here’s the quandary: These all sound like delaying tactics.  “Don’t make any decision now, wait until later.”  But that just slows you down and can waste time.  I like being able to move quickly.

I address this with two more principles:

4. When possible, be clear on decision criteria and goals in advance.  As I get a clearer understanding of my bigger picture, it helps me to quickly ask, “Does this take me closer to my goals or further away?”  When I have that, it’s often simple to make a decision in the moment.

5. Forgive myself.  Life is messy, and we’re all constantly making mistakes.  That’s part of the joy and frustration of being human.  So I try not to take everything so seriously; often I’ll still learn something valuable on the journey!  Some of my best life experiences were accidental.

Look at how you prefer to make decisions both large and small.  Then look at the big picture – would some guiding principles make you happier?

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