Decisions, decisions and more decisions!

Have you ever played ping pong with your decisions?  Ponder, ponder, ponder… decide… no maybe…. Ponder, ponder, ponder…. Decide… Okay but… no…. ponder, ponder, ponder…  All right now we’re are getting somewhere…. Ponder, ponder, ponder…

Or even worse, after an unreasonably long ping pong match, have you reached a decision and your ‘gut instincts’ just twist into a knot with an unarticulated cringe.  But then you proceed anyway? 

No matter which side of the decision ping-pong table I ended up on, despite long and excruciating debate, I often found myself dissatisfied with my decision, irrespective of the consequences of my decision.  So I started defaulting to other people’s opinions.  Other people I considered more informed… very, VERY bad idea!

Soon after finishing residency, ready to relocate closer to my family, I went on a house hunting trip and explored homes.  After my usual ping-pong match, swayed by the real estate agent, I bought a lovely Century home….“You will never have trouble selling a century home….. great location close to the hospital…. nice big yard for the dog.”  I trusted her, not my instincts.  My heart sank almost immediately, but I proceeded.  

As always, life happens and an unexpected turn of events triggered a need for relocation a few years later.  She was wrong or she lied to make the sale (I am trying to believe the former!)  Not only did I lose considerable money, but it took over 2 years to sell.  Though I have since purchased another home which I love and where I wish to remain until I am no longer cognizant of where I live, it is unlikely I will trust a real estate agent again. 

Since that somewhat miserable experience, I make my own decisions for good or bad. I continue to seek advice, but now I listen for that unarticulated cringe and respond accordingly.  Even when the cringe seems completely crazy and counter-intuitive, I listen and listen carefully.

Being an academic, I actively searched for advice about making better decisions.  Now there is a rabbit hole with lots of diversions – WHOOSH!  I thought nutrition advice was confusing until I dabbled into the psychology of decision making. 

Some of the ideas I pulled from that particular rabbit hole…..

  1. You do not have to defend your decision to anyone except yourself.
  2. Have a plan to manage the inevitable “What have I done?” disaster scenario, because it will come (guaranteed) and haunt you, probably more than once.
  3. No matter what decision you make, make sure you are happy with the reason behind your decision.
  4. Limit the decisions you need to make routinely – develop intentional habits instead.  Don’t waste your ‘limited decision making energy’ choosing between 25 different brands of toothpaste – seriously does not matter.  Pick one, stick with it, move on.
  5. Whenever possible make decisions ahead of time, based on your values and priorities.  Schedule an appointment with yourself and honor that appointment as you would respect an appointment with a friend or colleague.  Consider how different your life would be if you followed through on the daily decisions we ‘skip’ in the moment.  We never feel like working out until we are actually 5 or 10 minutes into the workout.  Workout anyway. 
  6. Believe that every decision you have ever made was the right decision, regardless of the outcome.  No one intentionally makes a poor decision.  We always make the best decision possible with the information we have at the time of the decision.  Stop second guessing.
  7. Believe you will succeed irrespective of which side of the decision ping-pong table you land on.  Then which option would you choose?  Take a new job in a new city and be wildly happy.  Stay in current position and be wildly happy.  Being wildly happy is independent of the decision and your choice – always (how incredible is that?) 
  8. What would your future, successful self recommend?  This one is a bit tricky but incredibly helpful.  It’s the reverse of “What would you have told your younger self, given where you are now?”  The difference is, you cannot change what your younger self did, but you can influence your present self, based on what you believe your future self would recommend.  What a powerful thought experiment! 
  9. Believe in yourself and what you are capable of!
  10. Believe in yourself and what you are capable of… worth repeating!

We are happiest when we live in alignment with our values, priorities and our dreams.  Our decisions need to align with those values, priorities and dreams.  Everything else is non-essential. 

Listen for the unarticulated cringe – no matter how crazy and counter-intuitive. 

Buff it up, my friends
Dr. Karen

Are you ready to Buff Up Your Brain? Ready to, lose weight and the brain fog?  Ready to polish up your thoughts? Let’s chat.