The Powerful Art Of Decision Making and how to banish your What Ifs.
"Darren, I did a thing." "Oh good grief." He mutters, rubbing his temples. Not uncommon in our house. See, I don't hesitate when I get an idea. Or when I see something I like in a store, or picking from a menu. Or deciding on a days plans. Or considerably bigger things. This is not to be mistaken with impulsiveness, though I'm certain my husband may contest that. Admittedly, I can seem impulsive sometimes. (I actually can't stand changes in plans, it makes me super uncomfortable. So i'm either excitable and snapping from one thing to another quickly, or I'm fatigued and slow and sick, but i'm still making decisions and actions.) But the rest of the time my gait is bouncy, I'm excitable, and I'm an all out confetti thrower over small things, but actually, I just make decisions really fast.
I'm making sure I'm certain first, just like anyone would, I just reach that point quicker. I take a different pathway to get to the decision point.
My husband for example, is a solid slower, decision maker on the whole, but half the time when I say "heads up, I made this choice" I get the impression that he's happy to hold the reins of those horses I'm not holding, as he then didn't have to make the choice to hold them himself or not in the first place.
Because he can also mull to the point of over thinking and then the whole affair becomes quite stressful, and can affect him.
I know this, I recognise it, because I used to have the same thing happen to me.
In fact, if there was an award for it, I don't like to toot my own horn here, but frankly, GOLD BABY.
So what does decision making look like for me.
Simple, it's an educated, informed choice most of the time. I gather information fast, unable to drop the subject (perhaps subtlety and grace are areas for work here) and when I have the information for reasonable decision foundations, it's done. I've made my choice. Let's crack on people! Move it move it!
Back to the aforementioned unheld horses, Darren said earlier "You don't really hold your horses for long. You either keep the horses where they need to be or throw that gate open and hollar 'run for the hills!' and watch them go."
Galloping to their hopeful outcome. I used to bumble, and fret, and over think things. And although of course I still have my moments, in day to day life, I recognise that life is a constant series of choices made. We all occasionally make bad choices, or wrong choices, but is it worth the energy and time to dwell on them so hard that it alters your perspective, your attitude, your day or week? Making decisions fast doesn't mean I believe all of my decisions will be absolutely, unfailingly successful. I'm just ready to experience the consequences of potential negative scenarios at the same pace later. If, and only if, they occur. I've weighed it up well, I just want to reach the point and have faith in my decisions. Dread steals optimism. Fret is the thief of peace.
Making an informed decision with a positive head on, in relatively rapid fire pace, is how you chug through in life. You keep your process, your progress, your excitement, your groove. So here's your equation for working on such an abstract thought process, Sarah style. From my experience, you can better handle regular decision making without a Brain Beat Up, by approaching your What Ifs without letting them get foothold in your self esteem. Picture your What Ifs, like a Defence Against The Dark Arts lesson with Boggarts. For those unfamiliar with Harry Potter verse creatures, a Boggart, is a ghouly creature that hides in dark confined spaces, and occasionally will pop up and take the form of your worst fear.
In this analogy, Boggarts are your What Ifs. YOU get to come up against a worst fear/bad scenario before hitting it for real, and as we know in Harry Potter, taking control of the fear you feel, and using a spell so simple kids can do it, clamor back your cool and hit it with the spell to banish it. In this mind work, there's no spell, but you can look at a scenario, and play So What with your What Ifs. Map out the pathways of your decisions. (I'm not suggesting the implications of a decision going wrong isn't serious and worth attention, this is more regarding undue panic for a fretful mind.)
What If 1: The information which I'm basing the decision on is unclear. It could be a gamble. I should wait until there's more information and think about it until then. This What If looks like a creature who is forcing you to hold onto concern about a potential outcome for far longer than you deserve to carry it. You don't deserve that. Turn that What If into an adjacent decision. Look at another angle, a similar option, or say no, if the outcome to go in unformed is risky.
What If 2: a frantic, fizzling creature that has put you in a mind frame that has set you into panic because it's Too Big For You. It echoes of past interactions of being belittled, under valued and underestimated. Low self esteem. An intimidating decision like that can be terrifying. I would never suggest anything so reductive otherwise. But there are routes through it so this What If doesn't eat you alive. Map out what would be expected of you should this succeed. Don't even look at the negatives unless it really is relevant, because otherwise a build up exercise becomes a paper based session in self destruction. With the list of what is needed down on paper, without the negatives, I'm willing to bet its a refreshing angle of reflection. That's your new bar on which to make your decision. Never make a decision that big while sitting in a muddy puddle of panic. Build yourself a little esteem thrown, and look at it differently.
What If 3: This is a pokey, whispering ghast, and a completely irritating pain in the booty. What will people think of me? Will I be judged, will I be misinterpreted? Will I look like a complete wally? Now actually this one DOES come with a spell. Use 'So What' and the What Ifs hate it. Because it renders them a bit pointless and bored of taunting you. So they retreat. Sometimes they come back. Sometimes people can't manage a 'So What' and I totally get that. As alternative, you could navigate that decision with a self love exercise. Is the information you're basing the decision on valid to how people interpret you? Is it a piece of how that choice and opportunity relates to you? Or is it ganging up on you from the outside of that information. Ah, so the What Ifs are pressing their noses up against the window of the situation! How would you carry yourself in making that decision if the curtains are closed? Do you anticipate that decision differently from that point of view?
What If 4: This so and so stands in front of you holding up placards of your children starved and deprived of your attention, of other work suffering, or family and friends judging the neglect of your housework or communication. He spins the clocks too fast and plays the guilt trip. Melodramatically flailing over dwindling energy.
This What If can go do one.
Yes, we're busy human beings. We only have so much time in a day. Business shouldn't be a standard we feel we have to live up to. But if your decision is important enough to consider finding time, you could.
We orchestrate the complex existence of our lives, our family's, sometimes other dependents lives too. We have commitments. Priorities.
I once read that "if you stop prioritising your schedule, you can start scheduling your priorities."
Blending in your time, sharing where you are, looking at a week of slots of availability for everything you do, not just the key survival things, makes so much more feasible. Your diary need not eat you whole. But decisions based on the Illusion of our swamped worlds can be re-evaluated, and that is exciting.
There are so many What Ifs in the world. But once you handle a couple, the skill is transferable. I have a history of chronic anxiety. I am a cautious person about certain parts of my life. But I can spot a What If coming. And so, I try to take a deep breath and pathway the likelihoods and get out of that maze before I can no longer see the light. If i'm already in a good mood, I can generally tackle this at lightening speed.
Ultimately, a decision that leaves you deflated, anxious or flat before you've even committed to a pathway, is effectively impacting you and becoming a decision based on how horrid it would be if it went wrong, or the outcome was difficult or awkward.
If you think fast, and you have even a glimmer of an "I can do that" or "this is a realistic outcome for success" then that decision should place that image in pride of place. Plan A.
If the outcome didn't flow as hoped, realistically, how would it affect you? What is the realistic impact? Can you address that from a place of Plan A importance?
Deep breath and exhale.
It's either yes, no, or a brand new adjacent choice to be made. Actions that feel bigger than they are are suffocating, and you're worth more than that.
So pick up your pace, pocket doubt and replace it with practical hope, and either do or don't, and move on to the next choice to be made. But don't drag them. To drag them scuffs your life like it scuffs your shoes.
Gallop off into your hopeful outcome. And do it over and over until its natural to you.