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Decisions, Decisions

"To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying ‘Amen’ to what the world tells you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive." Robert Louis Stevenson

What is life but a series of decisions? Our present is a reflection of our past choices, and no doubt, our future will reflect the choices we make today. So, when it comes to an important decision, how do we know we are making the "right" choice? In seeking the answer to this rather often asked question, the most accurate answer I can offer is, you can't. In many cases, there is no such thing as THE right choice. A correct choice for one may be an inappropriate choice for another. Our desire to see things as right/wrong, good/bad comes from a need to feel secure. When I make a choice, I look for evidence that I made the so-called right choice to feel good about myself. Fact is, the more aware we become, the more we realize that there are many potentially acceptable choices and our best bet is to look for decisions that are right for us.

We sometimes find ourselves asking for opinions from our loved ones, friends, associates and yes, coaches too, and get conflicting opinions which often serve to add to the confusion and doubt. The ideal then, is to get confident about our choice-making ability so we can "Be without the good opinion of others" to borrow the expression of Abraham Maslow.

So how do we become confident in our choice-making ability? The answer lies in self-awareness:

  1. Becoming aware of our preferred thinking style
  2. Becoming aware of our personal values

Our Preferred Thinking Style

With credit to Mr. Nedd Herrmann's research in whole-brain technology, let's take a moment to explore a variety of methods in choice making based on our wonderful whole brain. You will find that you have a preferred style, which you enjoy using when you make decisions. This is your natural preference and it serves you well to become aware of it. No doubt you may see yourself in several of these styles because few of us are dominant in just one.

Left Brain Cortical - The Analytic
The analytic is most comfortable with the logical, fact-based, "bottom-line" view.

The question they ask themselves:
Does my proposed decision hold up to a rational analysis of the facts?

Left Brain Limbic - The Organizer
The organizer is most comfortable with a detailed, chronological, "control oriented" view.

The question they ask themselves:
Does my proposed decision leave me with enough control?

Individuals with the above "Left-Brain" styles are served well by arranging items of importance in a rank list, that is, what they view as most important to them. This is where the benefit of being aware of our personal values comes into play as a tool for prioritizing the list.

Once the top three priorities are identified, decision-making becomes easier.

Right Brain Cortical - The Visualizer
The Visualizer is most comfortable with a conceptual, visual, "big picture" view.

The question they ask themselves:
Is my proposed decision in alignment with my vision of the future?

Right Brain Limbic - The Feeler
The feeler is most comfortable with an interpersonal, emotional, "people affect" view.

The question they ask themselves:
Does my proposed decision affect people in ways consistent with my values?

Individuals with the above "Right-Brain" styles are served well by stimulating more right brain function by closing their eyes, getting quiet and.....The Visualizer mentally implements each choice, one at a time, by running mental movies and then seeing, in their minds eye, the outcome of each decision.

In this quiet state, the Feeler asks, "Will this choice bring happiness and fulfillment to me and also to those who are affected by this choice?" The feeler gets in touch with the feelings of each choice by paying close attention to body knowing. These are signals of comfort or discomfort that come to them as they review each potential decision.

Both the Visualizer and feeler right-brain styles employ creative imagination as a natural and powerful tool for them to capitalize on their highly developed intuitive factor. An excellent right-brain technique is to offer suggestions to the mind prior to bedtime. As you sleep, your brain flows through alpha and theta brainwaves. Here, your mind attentively seeks decision-making information from deep within your subconscious mind. Expect to recall an informative dream or an "Aha!" upon awakening.

A universal question I like my clients' to ask themselves regardless of preferred thinking style(s) is... "Is this choice motivated by fear or by love?" This question speaks to the fact that our minds are designed to keep us safe, and therefore, this question assists us in making mindful decisions vs. fear-based reactive ones.

It's been said that we use 3 to 4% of our minds. Why not get the whole brain involved and use all of the techniques offered here? Begin to discover your ability to use more mind!

Our Personal Values
When we get clear on our own personal values, that is, what is important to us, decision-making becomes far easier. We can then create a model to use as a tool of measurement in our choice-making process -- a model which represents our most meaningful life intentions.

In all cases, individuals who have a very clear connection with their personal values will find decision-making far more enjoyable. Readers interested in getting better in touch with their values can request an assessment tool from my coaching practice known as "Tru Values." Simply make the "decision" and call "the coach."

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