Decision Making, Part 2

by teresalaynebennett

photo of basement office piled high with papers, files, books, etc.

A basement office in need of decision-making

You noticed, of course, that Decision Making, Part 1, ends with a well-meaning encouragement to make decisions – as many as possible – all day long. But I’m betting some readers (including you, maybe?) are thinking, “But I’ll make mistakes.” Of course you will, darlin’. And how do you think you’ll learn if not by making some mistakes? (How do you think I became so incredibly wise, if not from making a fair share of my own, eh?)

No, it isn’t your imagination and, yes, I am contradicting myself – yet again. This entire PayAttention! blog is an attempt to help us all learn from others’ mistakes. But there’s just no getting around the fact that we all have to make some mistakes for ourselves. That’s the bad news.

The good news? Making decisions is like everything else in your life.

  • The more you practice, the better you get.
  • The better you get, the less you have to think about it.
  • The less you have to think about it and the more intuitive it becomes, the more you do it.
  • The more you do it, the better you get.

Do we have another circle thing going on here? You bet. Except this time, it isn’t a vicious circle. When you’ve practiced proactive decision-making so much that it’s just part of who you are, you rarely find yourself with a backlog of decisions to make. You simply make them as you go, and you acquire an unconscious habit of looking ahead and making decisions before they’re screaming, in-your-face emergencies.

FYI: you’re already
making decisions
all day long.

If the photos in this blog post look uncomfortably familiar to you, that’s a clue you’ve settled for the deciding-not-to-decide brand of decision-making. Remember the colossal list of junk at the beginning of Decision Making, Part 1, all evidence of a homeowner’s deciding not to decide? Look around you. What’s in your home?

photo of folded laundry covering dining table and chairs

Laundry HERE???? Postponed decisions.

  • Piles of files covering what used to be office work surfaces?
  • Piles of laundry on the dining table and chairs?
  • Piles of books all over the place?
  • Piles of magazines beside your favorite chair?
  • Piles of opened and unopened mail in the office, on a kitchen counter, on the kitchen desk?
  • Piles of food on the pantry floor?
photo of bookshelf in bedroom with stacks and piles of books all over the bed, floor, and piled in messy piles on the bookshelf

PLENTY of postponed decisions.

If this is what you see, that’s more good news. It means I’m speaking to the right audience.

Rather than decide to:

  • file the magazines for future reference,
  • read them in the evenings till you’ve read everything of interest,
  • pitch them into the recycling bin, or
  • pass them on to someone else for their pleasure reading,

you’ve decided not to decide. So there they all sit, perched in a precarious pile.

Rather than:

  • fold the clean T-shirts and jeans you dumped on the coffee table,
  • get up off the couch, and
  • carry them to your bedroom closet,

you decide not to decide. So there they sit, waiting to embarrass you when your girlfriend drops by – or worse, when Mom shows up unannounced.

Rather than:

  • driving to a furniture store,
  • buying a bookcase,
  • assembling it, and
  • organizing your books on its shelves, or
  • giving them to a charity shop,

you decide not to decide. So there they sit, an obelisk slowly and precariously reaching toward the ceiling.

Rather than

  • file,
  • act on, or
  • recycle

each piece of mail as you opened it, you decided not to decide. So there they sit, an uneasy reminder that an unpaid bill or a friendly letter from the IRS may still be lurking in the pile somewhere.

If I’ve just described your living quarters, it’s time to start practicing decision-making – and not the decide-not-to-decide variety. All this clutter you see around you? Merely postponed decision-making.

Pay attention:
postponed decision-making
is scarier than you think.

When we postpone – decide not to decide – the above relatively easy-to-make decisions, we could well be avoiding other, more important and vital ones, as well. And that’s the scary, surprise ending to this disagreeable saga. Life is full of REALLY important decision-making. If we aren’t very good at making little decisions, we’ll be abysmally ham-handed at making The Big Ones.

Make a list of the messes of your life that bother you the most. Decide to decide what you’ll do about the worst one. Follow through.

Okay, that wasn’t so bad.”

What’s the most next most annoying one on your list? Decide to decide what you’ll do about it. Follow through.

Well! That wasn’t so hard.”

Woohoo! Don’t you love positive momentum? Make another decision. And another. And another.

It’s astonishing how rewarding decision-making can be – when you’re good at it – and we simply DO NOT “get good” at things without practicing. Now, go out there and do yourself a whole lot of favors: practice productive decision-making – all day today, and every day thereafter.

Next up: Decision Making, Part 3. It’s all about those trivial, oh-pleeease, roll-of-the-eyeballs decisions that “everyone” knows aren’t worth bothering with. Or are they?

©2015, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: "We need to accept that we won't always make the right decisions, that we'll screw up royally sometimes - understanding that failure is not the opposite of success; it's part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

“Failure” = getting better at decision-making