Feel into this: You made an important decision, and the consequences were negative. Yet, can you feel comfortable having made each decision? With conscious decision-making, no matter the outcome, you can be. And it uses skills that many of us have never been taught.
Every day, you are making decisions at work. No matter what level in the organization, or what kind of work you do part of your responsibilities will be making decisions. Of course, you also make decisions about work – when to stay home because you feel ill, say something to a supervisor or co-worker if you feel something is not as it should be, leave a job, and so forth. These decisions are a responsibility to yourself.
Decisions come with responsibility. As a result, you might feel stressed about making the right decision. Think about how many times you have “stressed over a decision.” Often the more important the decision, the more stressed you feel.
Unfortunately, that feeling of stress can actually make the rational part of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex, perform poorly. (Learn more in our white paper.) So you’ll need to use some specific skills and strategies for conscious decision-making to overcome that challenge.
Conscious decision-making skills
If you are feeling stressed about a decision you face, take time for conscious decision making. It requires a certain set of skills that you can practice and hone.
- Self-reassurance: You can and have clearly made good decisions before. So remembering that can give you confidence to do it again.
- Centering: After remembering, come into the present moment of making this decision. Feeling into your feet or entire body can help you feel balanced and in your center. Taking a few slow deep breaths with the exhale longer than the inhale can also calm you down.
- Reframing: Step back to be sure the decision answers the best question. Often, we believe there is only one right decision or outcome when there might be several good choices. Can you shift an either/or to explore something inclusive?
- Discernment: Typically you have some elements of data or information to sift through when making a decision. You are discerning which elements are relevant, which of those are priority and how reliable each element of information.
- Focus: Staying focused on the decision at hand is one thing. For many decisions, part of the skill is to actually broaden your scope of focus to see possible consequences. Where might you see ripple-effects of this decision?
- Self-awareness: Throughout this process, it’s important to notice your own reactions – physical, mental, and emotional. Often these point to sub-conscious biases or patterns that might cause you not to discern clearly, see all the consequences or stay focused.
- Acceptance: Clearly, you care about how it all turns out. Yet if you can detach and not judge either yourself or the decision process based on the outcomes, that’s a win. If you can also move away from blaming someone else, that’s even better.
Enjoy conscious decision-making
Most people actually do want and enjoy the responsibility to make decisions. Yet the pressure to make the “right decision” based on outcomes you can’t always foresee is strong.
My natural tendency is to decide things impulsively. And to see the world in either/or terms. As I’ve learned to use these skills, I’ve overcome some of those shortcomings and have made fewer poor decisions.
Even when the outcomes were not what I’d hoped, I can usually look at the decision itself and feel fine about it. I can take responsibility with ease. Typically I’m also finding I can learn from the conscious decision-making process as well as from the outcomes of the decision.
There’s a responsibility to making decisions, but can it also be empowering and enjoyable. Conscious decision-making skills are the keys that have unlocked enjoyment for me in decisions.