Make a Decision Easier

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Do you hem and haw over the details of a decision so long that the actual decision is perpetually delayed? Do you get bogged down in the minutia and lose sight of the big picture?

Decisions needn’t be a chore. In fact, it’s a profound privilege to be able to make decisions for yourself. Consider the alternative.

Would you rather have someone else make your decisions for you? The ability to make your own decisions is a good definition of freedom.

Once you remind yourself how valuable your freedom is, it’s easy to see the decision making process from a broader perspective. Instead of laboring over the process and wearing yourself out, it makes sense to think about the act of decision making deliberately to make the process more effective, more fun, and more in alignment with your best interests.

Procrastination is a Decision Too

Life is a string of decisions — from little ones like what to have for lunch . . . to big ones like what career to pursue. Anytime you put off making a decision, that is a decision also. When you consider anything, you can decide yes, decide no, or decide to decide “later.”

There’s a fine line between being thorough in collecting all the facts before you make a decision and procrastinating. When you are thorough and make the decision in its own time, without feeling rushed, you feel good because you did your due diligence and have confidence that your decision is the right one based on the current information available.

If you procrastinate over making a decision, you diminish your personal power and erode your self-confidence. Avoiding your decisions makes you doubt your ability to chart the course of your own life. Instead you are pushed this way and that, and your life goes in the direction of any wind that happens to blow.

“It is in your moments of decision that your life is shaped. Develop your decision-making muscles.” – Tony Robbins

It’s better to evaluate the facts at hand and make a decision soon and move on to the next one. If you have developed the habit of putting off making a decision, maybe it’s because you are afraid you will make the wrong one. Realize that decisions don’t have to be forever. When new information presents itself, a new, improved and better informed decision can be made. Even if your new decision is a 180 degree about-face from the direction of a previous choice, that’s okay.

Remember that you are in control of your destiny by the thoughts you think and the choices you make. You are exercising your freedom and your individuality by making your own decisions. Nobody else can do it as well as you. You are the one with the most relevant information, the most to gain and the most to lose if you don’t make your own choices. Course corrections are common and inevitable as new experience is gained.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Zero In on Your Target by On-Going Course Corrections

If you are somewhere in the middle of the country – Oklahoma City for instance, and decide you want to live closer to the ocean, you may choose to drive to Los Angeles. You head in a westerly direction, but your entire trip is a series of small course corrections. You don’t point the car due west and then weld the steering wheel in a stationary position. Instead, you turn the wheel a little to the left. Then you straighten out. You turn the wheel a little to the right. You keep adjusting, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot, on a moment-to-moment basis, as needed, until you reach your destination.

When you finally reach Los Angeles, you may love it and celebrate your decision to come, or you may notice another decision would serve you better, based on the new information gathered along the journey. You may realize the smog is worse than you imagined, and the traffic is too heavy to tolerate. You may wonder if somewhere on the east coast might be better.

So, you make a new decision and chart a new course for Savannah, Georgia. You head in an easterly direction. Again, you make the necessary course corrections as you drive from L.A. to Savannah. Once you arrive, you notice the smog is not such an issue, the traffic is more tolerable, and you enjoy the sunrises over the ocean since you are a morning person. Your moment-to-moment course corrections may take you to a small village a few miles from the big city and you may notice you like that best.

You have learned much through the process of your decisions and you have exercised your freedom to choose the best life for you. If you would have frozen up and avoided making decisions instead, you would never know what your true preferences were. You may have never even imagined your affinity for the sleepy little fishing village on the east coast. You’d still be stuck somewhere in the middle — Oklahoma City, daydreaming about L.A.

Use Your Imagination

The imagination is a powerful tool to help fine-tune the decision making process. Put it to work for you by envisioning possible outcomes for each choice. Play it out in your mind first, and then pay attention to how you feel. Your feelings will provide honest feedback.

If you consider the “yes” decision in your mind’s eye and play out the ramifications in your imagination, how does it feel? Now consider the “no” decision and imagine where it might lead. How does that feel?

Don’t Bog Down in the Shades of Gray

There are only two emotions you need to be concerned about, regardless of all the different names of the shades of gray. One emotion feels good and one feels bad. That’s all you need to know to help you make a decision.

When an imagined decision stirs good feelings within you, that’s your emotional guidance system telling you this direction is in sync with your deepest desires and your current awareness of who you really are. If the imagined decision stirs bad feelings, that’s a strong clue that this direction is in conflict with your deepest self. This play-acting alerts you to the fact that this imagined course is in opposition to the direction that your innate wisdom knows to best serve your highest good.

Personal Insight Gleaned from One of Life’s Toughest Decisions

A dear friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Suddenly she was bombarded on all sides with conflicting information from the internet and well-meaning family and friends. It was all too much to sort out in order to make an intelligent, informed decision. She needed to make the decision of whether to have a mastectomy or a tricky double lumpectomy.

When she looked beyond the mental realm and began to pay attention to her feelings, she realized that whenever she imagined having a mastectomy, she got depressed — that felt bad. Whenever she imagined having a lumpectomy, that felt better. Compared to the alternative, imagining the double lumpectomy actually felt good. Her internal guidance system was sending her the nudge she needed when she realized that her emotions were providing an important conduit for information along with all the mental data she was learning. The procedure was a success and she is a survivor.

Recently, another friend asked for any insight she might be able to offer someone recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She agreed to allow me to publish her reply as part of this article:

Thank you for thinking of me with this question because I would love to help if I can.

I too had a lumpectomy (double) on the left side. The doctors pushed for chemo, but since my lymph nodes were clear, I opted not to do it. My cancer was classed Stage 2 because of the combined size of the two tumors. It barely eeked over the classification, so I decided to consider it Stage 1 and be very optimistic.

I did decide to do radiation, however. Thinking back, I don’t know why I did, but for some reason, I felt this was a safer alternative to chemo and not so damaging. I didn’t consider the effect it would have on my lungs and heart. This never occurred to me. I did do extensive research, however, and decided to go through with it.

I took a long time to decide what to do. It was 6 weeks before I had the lumpectomy. (By the way, it took me many phone calls to find a surgeon who was comfortable with doing a double lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy.) He agreed with me. Why not go the least invasive way, and if need be, we could go with a mastectomy later. I am SO grateful I found him. He was wonderful. So far, so good. It’s been over 3 years and there hasn’t been a problem. I believe the cancer experience is behind me.

Two months after the lumpectomy, I had 6 weeks of radiation. I had few side effects with the radiation. The main one being a tremendous dip in energy. I wasn’t used to this state of draggin’ butt, and it took its toll on me mentally and emotionally. I finally had to slow down and let my body rebuild. I had wonderful care during this entire time from the radiation team, doctor, nurses, and my wonderful husband. The doctor is still the one I go to for my once a year check up.

In considering what to do, this is the best advice I can give your friend:

Dear friend I don’t know,

Don’t rush into anything until you are ready. You have time. Give yourself the opportunity to come to the right decision FOR YOU. You will get tremendous pressure for different procedures and medications and therapies from the doctors (this is their business, after all), well meaning friends and family. Find out for yourself what feels right for you – and then stick with it. The only way you can do this is to be confident in your decision.

With my 20/20 hindsight, I learned a very important lesson through it all – one that still helps me to this day. When outside forces tried to convince me of chemo and/or a mastectomy, my spirit plummeted. I cried and cried. Then the surgeon would step in and say it was okay for me to have just the lumpectomy if I wanted. I was elated. Then a well meaning friend of a friend called to tell me her horror story and that I would be crazy to not have a mastectomy. I cried some more and indecision crept in. When I actually got my first physical with the surgeon the day before surgery, he was reassuring again. I told him of my concerns. He just said to tell him what it was going to be – a lumpectomy or a mastectomy – before he starts to cut!

This is what was happening. My inner core – my true self – had a hard time guiding me through all of these decisions because I was getting so many different opinions. It was very confusing. (I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.) So, the only way my higher self could communicate with me was through my emotions. I felt good when I considered having only a lumpectomy. I felt horrible when I thought I had to have a mastectomy. Simple. My emotions were guiding me, telling me what to do.

So, the big question is: How do you FEEL whenever you consider having radiation? I felt it was right for me. Don’t know how I knew this – I just did. No one was pushing for it, either, because the treatments took place in a town 150 miles from the surgery. My husband and I did all the arrangements. Perhaps it is because I didn’t want to do chemo, I thought that this would be just one more active thing I could do to make sure it was behind me.

I also cleaned up my eating habits. If you are interested, check out the book “The China Study”. A cliff notes version is on Tupelo’s website: TupeloKenyon.com. Here’s the direct link: “Finally the Truth About Diet — The China Study Review.” This will give you an good overview.

I truly wish you the very best in whatever you decide to do. There are no wrong choices. Breast cancer is no longer the scary diagnosis it once was. The survival rate is phenomenal and encouraging. Sometimes big events come along to give us a giant push along our spiritual path. We might stumble at first, but then we catch our stride. I am grateful for the experience. I’m a better person because of it. My life is enhanced because of it. What more could I ask for?

Sending love and encouragement that you listen to your inner guide,
Your new friend you haven’t met yet.

Being Receptive is the Key to Hearing What is Offered

The information is available from our inner guidance whenever we become still and pay attention. Sometimes this inner guidance is blatant and conclusive, like a two by four over the head. Other times, it’s more like a soft whisper offered gently — not forced. Either way, we must be receptive and listening for these clues or we could easily miss them altogether. (See previous article, “How Do You Feel — About Inner Guidance.”)

“Again and again, the impossible problem is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made.” – Dr. Robert H. Schuller (b. 1926)

Regret or Relief

In the decision making process, imagine a “yes” decision. Put yourself into the picture as clearly as possible. Imagine the details and ramifications, and then notice if you are feeling regret or relief.

Now imagine a “no” decision. Do the same detailed mental mock-up in your imagination and notice if it feels more like regret or relief. This simple question of regret or relief helps you to focus on what you really feel about the decision you are considering at your deepest level.

Let it Go or Embrace It?

A friend recently called, looking for a sounding board for a personal dilemma. She was having trouble making up her mind. A couple of years ago, she bought an expensive guitar and was excited to learn how to play it. Her husband was supportive and helped make it possible.

Recently she noticed the guitar was not “pulling” her to play. The excitement had waned. Instead she felt like it was something she “should” be doing since she had so much invested in it.

Someone asked if she might be interested in selling it. Her first thought was “absolutely not.” The guitar represented her relationship with her artistic side. It was something she had chosen to do for herself, simply because the expression of creativity felt good. But after a few days of hashing it over, she began to think about selling it. After all, she seldom used it. Was she turning her back on her creativity by considering letting the guitar go?

Here are some of the insights that came to light in our conversation: The guitar was only her temporary representation of her creativity. It was not her actual creativity. That was inside her, and her artistic expression could manifest in any number of ways. For instance: writing, sculpture, quilting, photography and more. All of these things brought her satisfaction and joy. She realized she has many talents and many choices.

The guitar was like a trip to L.A. She had to get all the way to the west coast before she realized she might like the east coast better. No problem. Just turn around and keep driving, while continuing to make course corrections until it feels better.

We talked about the technique of looking for regret or relief while imagining her decision. She realized that selling the guitar would likely feel more like a relief. Every time she saw the guitar, it reminded her of what she wasn’t doing, and what she felt like she ought to be doing. She had been beating herself up about not playing the guitar because it took effort and money to get such a nice guitar, and she felt like she “should” be using it more. She was also concerned because her husband had helped her make it possible and she didn’t want to let him down. (This turned out to be wasted energy because he was not concerned about letting the guitar go. He wanted her to feel good and would be supportive in her next creative direction, whatever it turned out to be.)

So instead of being inspired and joyous about making music, the guitar had begun to represent yet another thing in her life to add to her already long list of “shoulds.” This didn’t feel like art, and it didn’t feel like creativity or joy.

She realized that whatever regret she might feel about letting the guitar go would be far outweighed by the relief of releasing the “should.” She recognized that the money could be reappropriated into some other tool that more easily allowed her creative expression to shine through.

So the guitar gets a new owner and our friend gets to lose her sense of guilt for not playing the guitar. She also gets to enjoy the process of re-choosing a new avenue for creativity and personal expression — one that jazzes her now.

“Ever notice that “what the hell” is always the right decision?” – Marilyn Monroe (1926-62)

Decisions Don’t Have to Be Forever

Decisions can be fun. They don’t have to be hard work. It’s not complicated — it’s not brain surgery. It’s a process fine-tuned by daily practice.

Even when we make a decision that works against us (and we all do), we still benefit by learning something valuable. When the result of a certain decision obviously is not serving us, we fix it by making another decision that puts us back on track. It’s okay to change our mind. By trial and error, we learn to pay closer attention to our internal guidance system, and as a result, we get better at making decisions that feel good.

“Making a wrong decision is understandable. Refusing to search continually for learning is not.” – Philip (Bayard) Crosby (b. 1926)

We appreciate our freedom of choice and dive into decisions willingly, even though we know some choices will need to be adjusted later. That’s okay, it’s all part of the process of learning how to steer our own ship.

We are in control of the life we live by the choices we make. As we continue to practice making choices that feel good, we continue to get in closer alignment with our deepest inner self. We notice our inner guidance system helps us steer our choices towards those that feel best for us. As a fascinating result, those are the choices that seem to benefit others the most as well. Choose to feel good — it’s a win/win situation.

While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.

Listen FREE to the song samples below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.

Related Songs
Trash Our Treasures
People seem to have a history of awarding seemingly insignificant details with places of prominence in our lives, while ignoring or even destroying the most important aspects.
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescX.html#Anchor2

Flying in the Sea
Born at Coco View Scuba Diving Resort in Roatan Honduras, this song celebrates the wonders of the sea. Imagine the joy and freedom felt by dolphins and whales frolicking in the waves. We caught a glimpse of that feeling while scuba diving . . . and love it!
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescX.html#Anchor5

I’m Goin’ Fishin
The zen of fly-fishing has always worked wonders for me to recharge and regenerate. This is a tribute to my grand-fater, who gave me a wonderful gift that has kept on giving for a lifetime.
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescX.html#Anchor13

Seriously
A reminder of the importance of making it a point to deliberately live life in joy, reverance, and with a light-hearted spirit.
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Hand in Hand and Heart to Heart
"You and I drew a good lot in life." We never take it for granted, but continually re-create it on a daily basis looking forward with imagination and gratitude.
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A Heartbeat in Eternity’s Highway
In the grand scheme of things, what’s the difference between a single moment and all of eternity? What’s the point of reference?
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescX.html#Anchor17

The Road
Even the closest of friends often find themselves on totally opposite life paths, but that’s O.K. Regardless of the outer experience, the inner connection between special friends remains strong through the years. This song is a tribute to that special bond.
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescHere.html#Anchor1

Time of Our Lives
Time is so fleeting, so elusive, it’s good to remember the importance and power of living right now.
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescHere.html#Anchor7

Takin’ My Time
It’s easy to simply give away so much of your time that there’s none left for you.
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescHere.html#Anchor15

Celebrate Life
Create your own personal celebration of life by your choices, rather than allowing life to be something that merely happens to you, or around you.
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Lovin’ Gold
Having someone to share the details of your life with is bound to be one of the very best definitions of living a wealthy life. Someone to love, dream and grow with through the years is a wonderful way to feel rich, complete with the potential for compounding interest over a lifetime.
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Do What You Love
Discovering what we have a true passion for, and then figuring out a way to build a life around that passion is one of life’s greatest feelings of accomplishment.
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Go Slow
Experiencing the pace of life in a different culture helps to illustrate just how frantic the western pace really is. Faster doesn’t necessarily mean more or better. What’s the big hurry? Go slow.
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You Gotta Have Fun
Our moments are fleeting . . . and finite. Too few to squander on "bad news". We must steer our attention deliberately in order to attract the kind of life we were born to live.
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Songs by Tupelo

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This is the end of the article entitled Make a Decision Easier published by Tupelo Kenyon on February 24, 2008 at 9:19 pm | In Awareness, Courage, Discipline, Inner Guidance, Productivity - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.


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