Many people feel stuck these days, for fear of making unwise decisions, given there’s so much uncertainty in the world. Yet, making a clear decision in an important area of life, can turn your life around. In this episode we’ll look at 4 ways to gain the clarity you need, to move forward in a powerful way.
1:04 – People who make quick, wise decisions are indispensable
10:12 – How to reconnect to the big picture behind the indecision
18:00 – How to rebuild trust in yourself to make good decisions
29:00 – Why it’s so important to have your own back on all decisions
MindStory Inner Coach Book and 2 Free Neuro-blueprints
The Art of Reinvention: A 5 Step Process to Break You Free into Clarity of Purpose https://mindstoryacademy.com/the-art-of-reinvention-regular/
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This is episode 82 – How to Make Smart Decisions Quickly. Many people feel stuck these days, for fear of making unwise decisions. There’s so much uncertainty in the world. Yet, making a clear decision in an important area of life, can turn your life around. In this episode we’ll look at 4 ways to gain the clarity you need, to move forward. Hi, I’m Carla Rieger and this is the MindStory Speaker podcast.
If you’ve been mulling or looping on a decision for a long time it’s probably making you feel tired and anxious. On the other hand, making a decision breaks you free into higher energy, and inspired, clear, focused action, which inevitably leads to better results…whether that’s in regards to your health, finances, relationships, home, work or life fulfillment.
So, to start with, think of or better yet – write down – something you are feeling indecisive about. This episode will be far more useful to you if you apply it to something specific in your life. It could be about how to get healthier, a career change, which job candidate to choose, where to move, etc.
So, take a moment right now to write something down.
People who can make quick, wise decisions are the indispensable people in the 2020’s. Whether you are working in a job or have your own business or both or neither. People want to interact with people who are quick and effective decision-makers, people who can make the kind of tough decisions that mean the difference between long term success or on-going inertia.
The problem is that many people in the world, especially lately, have what I call “change challenged” habits of mind. Many of us have survival brain programs picked up from parents, school, society to avoid change, even if the change is good for us. And of course decisions usually mean change. Some of us get change challenged from time to time, but some people live in a change challenged state most of the time. Either way, it can be very hard to make wise decisions on a regular basis if you do this. Here are 4 examples of what I mean by change challenged and how to override them.
The 1st change challenged habit is sweating the small stuff instead of zooming out and seeing what’s really important in the big picture. Have you ever found yourself getting overly worried or irritated or perfectionistic about something that in the end turned out not to matter? Millions of people do it every day, especially when you feel like your external world is uncertain or out of your control, like these days. For example some people, since the lockdowns, have become overly focused on orderliness, cleanliness and efficiencies around the house. They are stuck there far too long throughout the day, without a clear, forward, positive purpose, so they obsess about things and drive others around them crazy. In the end, what they obsess about makes very little difference and often creates bad relationships in the family. It’s very hard to make a wise decision when you’re sweating the small stuff.
A 2nd change challenged habit is focusing on the negative, worrying about making a wrong decision, or worrying what other people think if you do make a decision that feels right for you.
A 3rd change challenged habit is to use too narrow a range of criteria in choosing. For example some people may choose a life partner based on how romantic they behaved on a first date, only to realize that over the long-term they have very little in common. Some people choose a job based on the salary, only to realize that the culture of the organization isn’t a good fit for them.
A 4th change challenged habit is only using logic to make a decision. So, say you’re someone that spends a lot of time looking for the right life partner. They tick all the boxes of your criteria, but something is amiss. People who only use logic may miss out on the intuitive hit that the person is not really and truly interested in a long term commitment. Or, I went house hunting once and found a house that matched all our criteria, but I just couldn’t bring myself to commit to it. I let go of that as an option and went in another direction. Three months later I found out that house had hidden black mold. So, our intuition can know factors that the logical mind doesn’t have access to.
So, change challenged mindsets are not natural. They form when we are children. For example, my mother was very strong willed, and if we in the family didn’t go along with her ideas, then there would usually be an intense discussion to be had. When I was really young, I got intimidated by her. At the same time, she was trying to be a collaborative, cooperative parent in contrast to the strict upper class boarding school training she had, but the programming in her to dominate children was strong in her tone of voice and gestures. And I didn’t want to get on her bad side. For example, I remember as a kid my mother would ask what I wanted to do on Saturday. This was our day together. I wanted to say, let’s play in the park all afternoon, but I suspected she wanted me to say go shopping because that’s what she usually liked to do on Saturdays. I’d go into indecision. I’d say, I’m not sure. She’d stand there looking at me tapping her foot, come on make a decision, I don’t have all day. That would freeze my brain up even more. Finally she’d say, well, if you can’t decide, I’ll just decide for us. Let’s go shopping. This kind of situation created some subconscious bad programs for me that carried on into adulthood, where I’d freeze up around a decision if I thought the other parties involved wouldn’t like my decision. So think about that for yourself. Our decision making habits often form as children than go on autopilot guiding our lives into our adults years. I had to untangle that MindStory of me as a bad and slow decision maker to become a wise and efficient one, first by clearing out the 2nd change challenged mindset of worrying about making a wrong decision.
The good news is that once your brain has been shown a less stressful and more peaceful and efficient way of operating it will tend to default to the new program.
So, there are 3 habits of mind that I call the habits of a Change Artist. Change Artists are the opposite to change challenged people. These habits underlie all good decision-making and counteract the change challenged habits of mind. They are also innate habits we can all access, that just got covered over. This information, by the way, is based on 7 years of surveying and researching highly creative and resilient people in high-pressure careers. Asking them, their teams, what made them so easily able to adapt, thrive and lead in the face of uncertainty when others couldn’t.
On the surface they were taking appropriate actions, but I noticed that trying to get people to take an action when the underlying habits of mind weren’t in place made it impossible to help people. I realized I needed to start not just at the level of thinking and attitudes, but even deeper at the level of subconscious, default ways of looking at the world. As a coach, if could help them get to the point where they could install or reinforce a good MindStory around decision making, then they naturally became an excellent, smart, wise quick decision-maker.
Now it might be that you already are one, then hopefully this information will make you be an even better one. And if sometimes you get stuck in indecision or make unwise decisions this information could be life-changing.
Change Artists are, to use a well-used metaphor, like a surfer. They can stay balanced on the board in a creative way on the waves of change, not falling into the white water, nor staying behind the waves waiting forever to take action. They are comfortable with the discomfort of constant change whereby they continually live in uncertainty, not knowing what’s around the corner. This is the kind of world most of us live in now—before you even have the chance to get comfortable with a new change, it’s changed again. And that’s just going to speed up. Whether it’s governmental policies, finances, technology, ways of reaching clients, type of clients to serve, ways of creating income, systems that need to be entirely redone, demographics changing. It’s complex and constant. There are huge costs to being change challenged because either you don’t make any decisions and miss out on great opportunities, or you make poorly thought through decisions that lead to disaster.
So let’s look at the 1st Change Artist habit of mind which is seeing the big picture. This can nicely counteract sweating the small stuff. This is best done through giving yourself regular time out for introspection. This means time away from distractions and obligations. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes on a Tuesday afternoon, it’s a vitally important for being a wise decision maker. Most people don’t give themselves any time out for these kinds of things and as a result are running around just trying to just survive each day. Then what they find is years have gone by and they’re still not moving their life in a direction that they want to go in.
Now, the fact that you are listening to this podcast right now means you are actually giving yourself a timeout for learning and introspection, so that’s brilliant. So let’s take some time to do that right now. Now I used to sweat the small stuff a lot, so I know that for me and for all my clients, taking this regular timeout can make all the difference in the world.
For example, when a person speaks to a groups, when they lead a team, or put content up online – there’s a lot to get right – so it’s easy to sweat the small stuff. I’m sure you’ve done it a few times. I remember when I led my first facilitated meeting helping two organizations come together as one. It required being very present and spontaneous so that I could continually shift the structure of the day to align with the emerging needs of the group. But, strangely enough, I stayed up half the night redoing my flip chart stickie notes because I didn’t like my handwriting. Of course, I looked and felt exhausted the next day, and so my brain didn’t work very well and therefore did a poor job of engaging people and couldn’t think on my feet to really serve them. When I relooked at the old stickie notes and the new ones they were almost identical, and the stickie notes themselves – I never actually used. So, sweating the small stuff is often a sign you’ve lost sight of the big picture, of your purpose, and is a sign you’re operating from the survival brain instead of the whole brain. You can’t make important, wise decisions in the moment when you’re in your survival brain, which does tend to exhaust your resources.
So, think about that in regards to an area of indecision in your life. Have you lost sight of the big picture for yourself? What was the underlying purpose? What’s most important here?
The 2nd Change Artist habit of mind is reframing wrong decisions. This helps counteract the change challenged habit of negative focus.
Now of course, bad decisions are an important part of life. They help you learn and grow. As the old saying goes… Good judgment comes from experience …which comes from bad judgment.
Because I was someone who was indecisive, I studied this topic a lot. I was always very good at seeing multiple perspectives to any situation, which could help me be more impartial and make wiser overall decisions, but it meant being a slow decision maker. You might relate to that strength also getting in your way when making decisions. The good news is that you can speed up that process when necessary.
Some people are more naturally impulsive decision-makers, they don’t dwell over anything for too long, they just make a decision and then take action, and have their own back about the decision. They don’t look back. This was a quality I needed to marry with the ability to see situations from many perspectives.
Now, of course, it’s important to reframe the whole concept of wrong decisions since the fear of making them drives a lot of indecision. Success can actually only happen through a series of wrong decisions. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but it seems as if most of need constant reminder to break free of that fear. Many of us went through an education system that taught you that there are wrong and right decisions and you’re very very bad if you make a wrong one. That you should live the rest of your life in shame, guilt and regret if you did make a wrong decision. And if I were to ask you personally, have you ever made a wrong decision that you regret, chances are you’d say, dozens! Yet look at it this way. If you think of anything in your life that you are good at whether it’s Excel spreadsheets, salsa dancing, public speaking, long term relationships, or dealing with a child having a temper tantrum….chances are you made a lot of mistakes, wrong decisions, failures, setbacks in order to gain the wisdom, skill and expertise that allows you to now be successful at it. So anything that has happened to you recently that has felt like a mistake, wrong decision or failure you could just view it as feedback along the road to being very successful at it. You simply cannot be good at something and not made wrong decisions to get there.
If you stay in a state of reaction, regret, self-judgement to those wrong decisions it can make your whole life more challenging, and wise decision-making almost impossible. A life of reaction and regret is a life of slavery, slavery to the old MindStories, the old programs, the survival brain trigger cycle. You can train yourself to shorten your recovery time from wrong decisions, and even train yourself to not even react to things you always used to react to. I know you can do that because you’ve probably done that many times over with many things in your life. For example, I have a client who used to get really angry with himself if he made a technical error when giving a presentation online. Now he just laughs about it.
So think about how you position wrong decisions in your mind. Think of one decision you made that you’ve labelled bad or wrong – in any area of life, an investment you made, a relationship you got into, a business you started, a job you took, a vacation you went on. Bad, wrong. Something you committed a lot of time, energy and maybe money to that you later regretted. Or something you passed up on that you wish you hadn’t, like the time my father was offered a piece of real estate to buy for 20K, and turned it down. Within 5 years it was worth 1 million. It can be big or small. I remember deciding to get a perm on my hair. Remember those? It fried my hair and turned it a weird green-red color. I had to live with short, curly green-red hair for many months. Here’s a bigger one. I noticed a bathroom leak but was rushing out of town so I didn’t do anything about it except put a bowl under it. I came back to find the entire ceiling below the bathroom ballooned with water and exploded, causing thousands of dollars and months of renovations. We all have them. What’s one of yours?
So, I used to regret things and beat myself up about them for years. Now I move through it all very quickly, and use those situations to grow and learn. Here’s one way to do that. Make a list of all the things you learned from that wrong decision. The more things the better. This moves the experience or MindStory out of the survival brain area, because of this reframing process. That way it moves from getting stored as trauma, to getting stored as wisdom in the neo-cortex.
So when I first did it, I could only think of one thing…always take care of a leak as soon as possible. But then I made myself keep focusing on it. Because I had to learn a lot to deal with it. For example, the type of plumbing to begin with, I learned a lot about that. Also, ways to seal leaks, ways to insulate flooring and ceiling. Ways to renovate so that it’s less costly and time consuming. So, if you reframe all your challenges in terms of what you’ll know better for next time, your survival brain goes “Okay, it looks like she’s learned enough not to cause that issue again,” and releases the constant pinging on your nervous system. However, if you just feel like a victim about it, having learning nothing, the survival brain may keep pinging you every time you go in a bathroom, see a leak, talk to reno people, and on and on. I’m sure you’ve met people that have phobias about weird things and they tell you its because of this thing that happened before. Chances are they didn’t do an exercise like this.
Often we make wrong decisions because we’re trying to please someone else, like our parents, teachers, spouse, kids. It’s a short term gain for a long term bad result.
One of the worst things you can do is re-wound yourself around decisions you’ve made—that’s the number one reason people stay locked in indecision. They stop trusting themselves to make good decisions. An ongoing battle happens between the inner parent and inner child. Gathering wisdom from the situation, helps the inner parent back off and trust again.
If you’re not growing, you’re dying. I’m sure you’ve heard this wisdom before. Many neuroscience studies show that your brain actually stops writing new neural pathways if you don’t continually stretch yourself, don’t learn new things. This can lead to premature aging both physically and mentally. So, the common wisdom to avoid this degeneration is to commit to learning, testing yourself physically and mentally, like learning a new language, doing puzzles or lifting weights. But since we’re all making bad decisions from time to time, learning from those experiences is another way to keep your mind sharp.
Now, Sometimes you cannot make a decision on something because you need more information to come through first. So, that’s okay. But learn to discern between that kind of stall on making a decision and complacency. To be complacent is defined as a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger. Often the danger of complacency is that you are avoiding moving forward. If you stay back you will miss out on great opportunities, you will not feel fulfilled, you will not be living your true purpose and values. Especially these days with all the things that induce fear in the media trying to make people feel continually unsafe. If you live from a place of always just trying to be safe, you will live a very stunted life. Sure, take smart precautions, but then live your purpose, live by your values. Don’t let fear mongering keep you from making decisions that would bring you and others great fulfillment.
Of course sometimes it’s important to stay in the comfort zone because you need to heal, to recuperate, to regroup, to regain stability; however, if you stay there too long then it might be that you are actually trying to avoid making a wrong decision. As John Maxwell once said “All dreams are outside our comfort zone. Leaving that comfort zone is a price we must pay to achieve them.” If you think about a time you were most fulfilled in your life, I bet one reason was that you left your comfort zone, took a wisely thought-through risk and it paid off.
So, by the way, I think that living your life purpose can be defined as a state of being that feels congruent, in alignment with the true self, the deeper self, not the personality structure built from the ego that’s full of programs. It means you are living by a set of values that keep you vital, alive, growing and excited about life. It can mean a certain type of career or life path, but often it’s not so much WHAT you are doing as HOW you are doing it. And if you lead or mentor people, one of the best things you can do for people is to be living your purpose, as you will be a living bridge for them to connect to their own purpose. Often you don’t even need to say anything to them, just be a shining example.
One of the big reasons people are fearful of leaving their comfort zone because of having to face opposition. This can be opposition from others, from circumstances or from within your own psyche. The person living their purpose is willing to make the tough decision that the off purpose person is unwilling to make. For example, have you, at one time, made a decision that felt on purpose, but then someone close to you got uncomfortable about that, like a life partner or a family member or social circle. I remember when I chose to give up drinking alcohol in my late twenties I immediately became somewhat of an outcast with my friends whose lives centered around drinking. Or maybe the new decision meant a lot of inconvenience, like moving home or finding a new source of income. And as you’re in the middle of the opposition, challenge, inconvenience you might start having thoughts such as…maybe this was the wrong decision.
So, here’s the way to know. Does the end goal of the decision make you feel more alive, do you sense it’s going to help you grow, learn, and to become more fulfilled in an important area of life? Or, does the end goal of the decision make you feel less alive, do you sense it’s not going to help you grow, or learn, and the end result will not feel fulfilling? Just make sure you’re focusing on the long game, and not the obstacles along the way. Making wise, smart decisions should shape your character, they make you stronger, wiser, and inherently more of value to the people you are here to serve. There’s an old saying…peacefulness follows any decision, even if it’s rough going to get there.
If you stay in indecision for too long it can lead to fatigue. It keeps your mind in a loop going back and forth between one option and another which can create agitation. So if you are regularly agitated and fatigued, take some quiet time to find out if you’re looping on an important decision. Give yourself the gift of making a decision, even if you aren’t sure. Put your entire life energy in that direction and notice what happens. Even if you take no action yet, just imagine you’re settled inside, that’s the direction you’re going in. How do you feel emotionally, physically?
And, of course, no matter what decision you make, one the wisest things to do is have your own back about that decision no matter what. Even if it ends up seeming like the wrong decision later on. This is based on the philosophy that life is meant to be a learning ground. Many of us get taught when we’re young that life is about being happy. You know how parents say, I just want you to be happy? Or, find a life partner that makes you happy? Like it their responsibility. You’re the only one responsible for your state of mind, because it’s all based on your interpretations of life. So, even a wrong decision becomes a right one if you gain rich deep learning from it.
So let’s look at the 3rd Change Artist mindset which is using a wide variety of criteria for making your decisions. This is like looking at your decision through a variety of lenses, points of view, perspectives. It’s as if you were asking a board of directors who all have different backgrounds to comment on the best direction for you given their background and expertise. You can actually do that in real life – ask others their opinion, but you can also do it within your own psyche.
One thing you can do is to create a list of criteria that the decision needs to meet. For example, one of my clients had been in human resources but had been laid off after a period of time working from home. She felt stressed about it at first, but then began to enjoy the idea of reinventing herself. So one exercise we did together was a list of criteria for her next career move such as a certain income level she wanted to achieve, schedule flexibility, working with skilled helpers that would do jobs she didn’t like and wasn’t good at, doing something that allowed her to be innovative and creative. Something that used her coaching, training and leadership skills. Something that challenged her to grow professionally, working in a growing rather than shrinking industry, getting to work from home, being there more for her family. So think about that for your area of indecision. What is your ultimate criteria, even you if you think you can’t have it all. Write it all down. You’ll be amazed that when you look at your options, one will either stand out as the clear winner, or it will become obvious you should not settle and keep looking for a direction or solution.
Now let’s look at the 4th Change Artist mindset which is using your intuition. While it’s good to use objective data and logical criteria, there is an innate, subconscious wisdom everyone can tap into that should be used as one of your ways of making decisions. The better you become at this, the quicker the decision you can make. There’s a higher mind within you that can access all the data, all the facts, all the complex situations around the decision and match it to your criteria. It’s when you see a possible direction and it just feels right.
You may have used this way in past on certain decisions. It’s common if you don’t have much time to decide, or if you going through a time in life where you feel free, or more closely connected to yourself, like when you went traveling in your twenties, or when you had a rejuvenating time out from the daily stresses of life.
Some people use intuition a lot, some people never use it, some people have no idea what I’m talking about when I say intuition. For example, you could be interviewing a job candidate and everything looks good on the surface, but you get an uncomfortable feeling about the person only to later find out they were fired from their previous job for company theft. Or, getting a hunch to call someone only to find out they really needed to talk to you.
This is an immensely important skill to develop, or I should just say…uncover…because I think it’s an innate skill that gets overridden by bad subconscious programming in our youth. Especially these days when the world is changing so dramatically. More and more you need to be able to make decisions in the blink of an eye. You may not have time to measure all the criteria in a logical way. As we’ve talked about a way to cultivate this skill is to pay attention to how your body feels, how your heart feels when you are making a decision.
For example, right now think of something you love. It could be a person, a pet, a vacation spot, an activity you love to do. Got one? Think about it. Notice the vitality level in your body. It probably went up just now, right? When you are making a good decision you should feel that same level of higher vitality. When you are making a bad decision, your vitality, happiness, and energy tend to go down.
So we are going to do a quick process to access your intuition right now. I’d like you to just put your feet flat on the floor, and close your eyes if you can. If you’re driving don’t do that. You can still do it with your eyes open. Some people just find it easier with eyes closed. and So just imagine yourself right now – it’s during your workday and you have a huge amount of priorities coming at you and you have to make a quick decision on something that is important to do first. Imagine yourself straightening up your posture as you’re sitting there, taking in a low, slow deep breath, exhaling slowing and fully and continuing in that pattern to keep your brain capacity as high as possible. Now hear yourself saying – how can I make the wisest possible decision here? See yourself taking the time to wait for your higher mind to give you an answer. See yourself writing down any wisdom you get from your intuition. And now see yourself making the right decision that is the best use of time, energy, money and resources and that feels right in your gut, your heart, and your mind. And taking a deep slow inhale and exhale again. Good. That’s a quick example of what we call a neuro-blueprint that trains your brain through mental rehearsal to build on good habits of mind. If you want to get a couple of free samples of these just look in the shownotes for the link or go to MindStoryAcademy.com and get our free book. You’ll get two free neuroblueprints by downloading the book.
Also, if you are in a huge life transition and want to seriously reinvent yourself, you might want to consider getting the downloadable process called: The Art of Reinvention. See that link in the shownotes. It will help you get clear on what’s next in your life. You get a neuroblueprint audio, a short video tutorial and the downloadable process. MORE INFO HERE https://mindstoryacademy.com/the-art-of-reinvention-regular/
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If you go to MindStoryAcademy.com\podcast. https://mindstoryacademy.com/Podcast you can also subscribe to hear about more episodes. Until next time, I’m Carla Rieger. Thank you for listening.