Decision making used to be torturous. I was afraid I would make a bad decision. I was afraid I would make a decision that others wouldn’t like. I was so afraid to make the “wrong” decision that I would procrastinate and not make any decision. But, no decision is a decision and inevitably, I had to face the music.
Now, however, decision making is easy, in fact, it often seems effortless. No longer afraid of making a bad decision, I do my research, come to terms with the conflicting interests, and then trust my decision.
How did this happen, you ask, and what do I do?
How did I move from torture to ease? The experience of second guessing and being stuck was so unpleasant when I was in my early twenties that I committed myself to finding a way out.
The way out happened to be a “way through” rather than “out.” I realized that my difficulty making decisions came from fears about myself that manifested in various aspects of me arguing about different solutions. “What if this happens, how will you deal with it?” “What if that happens? You’ll feel like a fool or a failure.” Those hypothetical circumstances (which were all negative) and the concomitant fears kept me stuck. However, when I learned the “way through,” i.e. how to negotiate with these conflicting parts, I found that I could come up with a solution that allowed me to move forward.
The conflict and fear dissipated as I realized that I could trust myself to pick up the pieces if the decision turned out to be less than I wanted. When I realized that I could cope with whatever happened, it was easier to implement the solution that emerged from all the aspects of me that had been in conflict.
I realize that some people make impulsive decisions rather than procrastinating. Both are manifestations of a similar struggle. For all of us humans who struggle with decision making, I mapped out a simple way of looking inwardly to discover the impediments that are in the way and to dissolve or at least resolve them.
That process of self-discovery informs how you can move forward with making decisions. You can apply it to a model for decision making that I created and for now, am calling the, “Mindful Decision Making Approach” or MDMA. This 6 step model begins with defining the problem and stating your goals and ends with the moment of choice when you commit. I’ve already added an addendum that evaluates your decision and helps you use what you learned for future decisions.
I’m excited to bring this work out publicly, which I’ll do at the California Institute for Integral Studies this November. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay area, I hope you’ll join me. If you live out of the area or are unable to attend, let me know of your interest and I’ll keep you in the loop as I share this body of work publicly.