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Making A Decision

Saturday, 20 January 2007

All of us at several times during our lives are forced to make decisions that are difficult to make. We are put in a position where we do not know the best path to take, often at least one choice will be emotionally painful.

When I am stuck in this position here is how I quickly come to a decision.... 

First up though I am going to introduce two other methods that have been useful to many people for years as they also are form the basis of how I make decisions.

To make the best decision for you in any given circumstance you need the facts. Do not go off 'half cocked" and make a decision based on things you have heard 2nd hand, and DO NOT make a decision while you are emotional.

Currently I find myself in such a situation. Rather than even discuss, let alone make a decision, while I am feeling emotional I have instead chosen to leave the situation alone for three or four days until my immediate emotions are completely settled and my mind has had time to mull over all the outcomes by itself. Then I will speak with the person involved and collect the facts, then make a decision at that time.

So after you are sure you are making a rational and not an emotional response, here are a few methods you can use to help make the right choice for you:

Bonnies "I know what I don't want in my life"

I learned this from a close friend many years ago. She was successful and I once asked her how she made decisions. Here answer was I know what I don't want in my life so I make my choices so these things do not come into my life.

This is a great tool to use. Often it is easier to decide what you do not want in life than it is to decide what you do want in your life.

There is one problem with this method though, it can often lead to stagnation in life as people choose to take the easier safer path that they know rather than facing uncertainity, so do not rely on this method exclusively.

Benjamin Franklin Method

I learned this from a series of tapes on the art of selling back when I owned a physical business. The idea here is to get a sheet of paper, put a line down the middle then on one side write BENEFITS and on the other DISADVANTAGES.

Then proceed to write down every good thing that will happen if you make the decision, and then every bad thing that can happen if you go ahead with the decision.

Once you finish leave it for a day or two, come back and see if you can add any more to the list.

Then weight the advantages vs the disadvantages. Make an informed and logical choice, this method allows you to evaluate whether the risks are worth the potential benefits. 

Richard Bandler NLP Dualities Limitations

Richard Bandler claims that to many people see life as two choices:- yes or no, black or white, good or bad, and the famous "either you are with us, or against us" when there is in reality an unlimited number of choices you can make at any given moment. He says that people limit themselves by doing and acting as they are expected to by their social rank, peers or their own preconcieved ideas of the way they should act.

I have also heard this described as people building their own prisons and acting as their own gaolers (jailers for my US readers). You see this time and time again. "Oh I could not possibly do that, it simply would not be fitting"

To illustrate let me give a few examples from my own life experiences of myself or close friends that I know well:

  • Playing a sport, getting good and with a good prospect to go professional, while my mother wantd me to study more and get good grades to get into University so that I could get a "good job". Should I have stayed at basketball, or should I study harder to get a "good job"? Or could I make the coice to do something else? I chose to go to the gym full time instead to become a bodybuilder, then a wrestler and then chase my ultimate dream of becoming an actor like Arnold Schartzenegger
  • A friend was working 9 to 5 but wanted to travel a lot more. What was he to do? Continue with his job and his good position in the company at a high wge or throw it in and go travelling for 6 months at a time? He made several slow transitions over about a 2 years period whereby he was able to telecommute to work from his home office, 1 day a week, then 2 days, then 3 then full time. Once he was full time he packed up and went travelling around the world, still working his 36 hours a week but from where ever he wants.
  • Current career choice is failing, just getting by financially but you enjoy the work. What do you do? Continue on facing financial hardships for the rest of your life as the market  is not strong enough or do you throw it in and get a "safe secure" corporate job? OR do you throw the lot in and move to another country where the market is strong enough to support your career and lifestyle choice - for me it was welcome to Thailand and it's booming movie industry.

Here I am not saying what is right for others is right for you but it shows that there are always other alternatives always available.

In the above samples the people concerned where expected to make one choice or the other, when I made my choices people often said "What if you fail?" 

Last point:

Do not make a decision based on fear

What if you fail? - that was asked a lot when I told people I was moving to Thailand to try my hand at action films.

What is failure? Experiencing a new country, struggling and growing as a person, gaining self confidence by facing and overcoming daily difficulties in a new culture, learning a new language, metting new people, chasing my dreams and gaining experience for the next step.

Hardly what I call failure.

Worst case scenario for me was that I would end up broke and destitute then someone would put me on a flight back to Bondi Beach, Australia and possibly be told never to return to Thailand - wow big failure that would be - sent back to my comfort zone with friends and people who care about me.

Bondi Beach People From All Over The World

Sent back to Bondi Beach? Wow how frightful



I make decisions by knowing where I want my life to go. I have an overall plan. I know where I want to be at the end of the day, I know what I enjoy in life, I know what I want from life.I know where I want to be when I retire (and I'm not talking about location).

Therefore I ask myself which choice will take me closer to my dream and which will hold me back?

Once I know the answer here I then ignore the duality and look for other options available that would be even better for me.

 Crazy, stupid, idiotic -I have been called all these things but I can guarantee you that my life has been 1000 times more exciting than if I'd stayed working in an office and I have done things I could previously only dream / fantasize about.

Though my life also has a lot more downs than someone with a more traditional career, I would not trade it for anybody elses and if I had to do it all again I would. Though not all my choices have been good for me or my career they have made me who I am, and being that person allows me to be where I am in life now and I am happy with that.

Life is about making yourself  happy, doing what you want and enjoying it.

There are always more choices available than first meet the eye, look out for them, and get yourself a LIFE PLAN so you know which direction you should be heading at least.

I hope you find this article useful. 

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