Guest article provided by jilljerabek.com
How we typically go about making a decision doesn’t always result in a confident decision. We weigh the pros and cons. We follow our emotions. We respond out of fear and/or pressure from others. We feel like we “have to choose something”, so we make a fast choice. We worry about what others think and what’s expected of us. How often do you find yourself making decisions based on one or more of these tactics? I would guess I do it way more often than I realize. That’s why I have decided I want to incorporate a more empowering strategy for my decision-making process.
Looking at the above list of tactics, I realized we make decisions primarily to feel safe, secure, and successful. There is nothing wrong with that, but what if we could have both? What if we could make informed, empowered decisions that led to feeling safe, secure, and successful without compromising our values or self-agency?
Upon reflection, I decided there are three typical decision-making patterns that each of us will use from time to time and we all most likely gravitate towards one pattern most often. I believe understanding your decision-making pattern is the first step towards empowered, confident decision-making.
Pattern one is the Act Before You Think pattern. The person using this pattern makes quick, impulsive decisions in the moment based upon impulsivity, pressure, and/or performance. The positive side of this pattern is it creates confidence and the person using this pattern is a great problem-solver able to choose a different approach quickly when a decision doesn’t work out.
Pattern Two is The Great Debater pattern. The person using this pattern plays out all possible scenarios in their head often with pros/cons lists often because the fear of the unknown is overwhelming. This creates calm and order. The positive side is this pattern is preventative in nature and creates a long list of possibilities in resolving challenges.
Pattern Three is the Hand It Off pattern which decides by giving the decision to others. This pattern is based upon a fear of disappointing others or making the wrong decision.
The positive side of this pattern is it is collaborative in nature and promotes everyone being heard.
Knowing your dominant process and using your process is important because you can use it to your advantage instead of allowing your pattern to hijack what decision you make. Healthy decision-making operates in all three styles depending on what is needed. For example, a dinner decision might use quick decisiveness while a big project might use a combination of all three decision-making patterns. When decisions come from the inside out, we feel confident, empowered, and purposeful no matter how small or big the decisions!
Making decisions from the inside out takes some practice and slowing down to maintain awareness and stay in touch with your intuition. Try these three steps for confident, empowered decisions every time.
Step one is to eliminate the obvious by asking yourself:
~What do you for sure NOT want?
~What is too complicated or heavy?
~What blocks the possibilities?
We often miss the clear signs of what NOT to choose because we are trying to find ways to resolve the obstacles. Instead, think of those obstacles as clear signs that this is NOT the direction to go.
Step two is to ask what is the higher value right now? This could be a life value, such as this decision does not align with my value of generosity. This could also be a value in the moment, such as we need to finish this project by this date so what is most efficient right now. Think about what value will open up or resolve all the needs being considered, as if it is the key that opens the lock to the rest of the values you desire to honor as you make the decision.
Step three is about intention or asking what are you willing to do? Too often we are in resistance about a decision simply because we aren’t willing to do what that decision requires. If you aren’t willing, it’s definitely not the right decision! Use this formula to guide your decisions: Willingness=Empowered Action + Confidence
I have some go-to questions and mantras I use to guide me and slow me down when I am feeling like I might make a decision based on something or someone outside of me. Try these out for all kinds of decisions and see how they transform the process.
- Does it feel light or heavy?
- Do I feel good?/What would feel good?
- Where do I feel peace?
- What’s the next right move?
- One step, not all the steps
- Step one before step fourteen
Confident decision-making takes patience and practice, and once you’ve got it down, you will never give up making decisions from the inside out. You’ve got this!