You and I are always making decisions.
Big decisions like moving house, smaller decisions like where to go on holiday and a myriad of tiny decisions like ‘is it safe to cross the road now?’
Some of these decisions are ‘important’ and some not so – and some of the ‘tiny’ decisions can be more important than some of the ‘big’ ones!
But what is a ‘decision’?
When you and I ‘make a decision’ we attempt to evaluate or ‘weigh up’ the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ the ‘for’ and ‘against’, the positives and the negatives and come up with the ‘best’ course of action.
But then sometimes, probably more often than you or I might care to admit, the decision is simply “I want one of those”, regardless of any ‘for and against’ discussion.
This is especially true where ‘bright shiny objects’ are involved or when advertising plays to our emotions – especially when it implies that we’re ‘missing out’!
You and I make emotional decisions and we make rational decisions, the latter being the ones that we like to think that we’ve ‘thought through’.
But the thing is . . .
A decision is just a decision. We decide to do something, or not do something but nothing happens, the decision makes no difference at all to our lives, until we act on it.
And quite often at that point you and I find ourselves ‘reconsidering’ the decision.
Because when it comes to actually doing something, or stopping doing something, it’s a whole different ball game.
You and I can make decision after decision about how we want our lives to develop, what we want to be, do or have, as they say ‘until the cows come home’ – but none of these decisions will make any difference until we act on them.
Oh and by the way, making ‘plans’ about putting our decisions into practice isn’t ‘taking action’. Planning, although necessary in many situations, is often used as a device for putting off the actual action.
As my late mentor, Trevor Mills used to say “A plan is useless until it deteriorates into action” – indicating of course that what you and I actually do after making the ‘plan’ isn’t always the same as the plan!
How can you and I then make better use of our decisions? How can you and I ensure that once the decision is made that we really do put it into practice?
Well, here’s the thing.
You and I already know which decisions we take more ‘notice’ of, which type of decisions we are more likely to act on.
It’s those ‘I want one of those’ emotional decisions. You and I buy staff we don’t really need, but we want. We do things we don’t really need to do (or eat things we don’t really need to eat) because we want to.
You and I take action more often for emotional, rather than rational or logical reasons. In fact, we hardly ever act on ‘logical’ decisions until we inject some emotion or ‘ownership’ into that decision.
Some people spend ages on various web sites looking for the ‘best deal’. The reach a conclusion and ‘sign up’, but by then that’s an easy thing to do because emotion has been injected into the process.
A lot of time has been spent and they think they’ve ‘beaten the system’ by getting what they believe (emotionally) is a ‘great deal’.
Once people become emotionally attached to the decision they go for it and act on it.
The ‘downside’ is of course that often this is the ‘wrong’ decision but they have so much emotion invested in it they find themselves unable to reverse or change it.
But what happens in other situations? Why do you and I do (or not do) what we decide? How do we get the emotion into our ‘rational’ decisions?
There are some ‘magic words’ to use here.
The ‘forward looking’ version starts “What if”.
We think about what will happen if we act on what we’ve decided; if you and I really do go ahead and do or stop doing what we decided on.
We attempt to visualise what our lives will be like and inject that emotion into the decision.
That works, but some of us find this sort of forward visualization difficult, so what about the alternative I learned from my mentor Peter Thomson?
Consider what will happen if you don’t implement the decision.
Visualise how things will turn out then.
That’s not so difficult because it will always only be the same, or worse, than where you are now. Let your ‘negative’ side run free imagining how bad it would be if you didn’t do what you decided.
Then the ‘magic words’ are “If only I’d . . .” – implemented that decision.
That will get you going – pretty much guaranteed!