Your Best Decisions Start NowMar 23, 2022
Your Best Decisions Start Now
I used to think that if I had the foolproof frameworks to make decisions, I would never again be indecisive. Turns out I was wrong.
I don’t know about you but as an Enneagram One, I can make a structure out of anything, I can put together efficient frameworks from the chaos.
What’s in the way of making powerful decisions is never the steps, it’s actually all about the story or stories you hold about making decisions.
When you go to make a decision, the brain will do its best to spot and prevent danger, it does this by looking to you past for evidence and by imagining a future.
It looks to the past. Do we make good decisions? How do we treat ourselves when we regret a decision? If the answer is, we make terrible decisions and we treat ourselves poorly then the brain will use that as evidence that there’s danger in making the decision. Totally normal, totally optional.
It looks to the future, well it imagines it as best as it can. What will happen once we make that decision? Will that be scare? Any unknowns or possibility of failure? If the answer is, then people might see my flaws or that I’m not perfect then the brain will use that as evidence that there’s dancing in making the decision. Totally normal, totally optional.
In this week’s episode, you’ll uncovering your decision making story so you can make your best decisions and it starts with exploring
- What are you holding from your past?
- What are you projecting in the future?
- What weight are you attributing to the decision?
It’s possible to get to a point where making decisions is easy, where you focus on what matters and support yourself the entire way through from the moment you make the decision and through whatever comes of the decision. Each time you make a decision, it makes room in your brain to think about what still deserves your attention.
Listen to this week’s podcast episode HERE to find out exactly what your story is and how to make a 1% shift in your mindset that will change how you make decisions forever.
Welcome every One, you are listening to The Enneagram One Project Podcast, Ep 12 - Your Best Decisions Start Now
You might be shocked to find out that I won’t be giving you a framework for making decisions because here’s what I think is true. There is no right or wrong way to make a decision. You want to make a pros and cons list, do that. You want to make a decision matrix, awesome. You want to collect all the data and graph it, sounds like a plan.
Yes, I do have a few tools that I’ve blended together from my various trainings that support my decision-making and I can make an episode on those in the future if that’s what you’d like so let me know over on instagram @dominiquevandal. Honestly, frameworks are useless without the foundation we’ll talk about today.
What keeps you from making decisions is not the lack of frameworks, you are perfectionists, you are enneagram type Ones, we invented structure. What keeps you from making decisions is the story you have about decision-making, that includes, future casting, referring to your past and the weight you attribute to the decision.
That’s why the most important thing you can do for yourself is uncovering your decision making story or stories. I’ll guide you to do just that this week and as usual, if you want to look at the topic in more depth and ask me questions or get coaching on it, you can join The Enneagram One Project Facebook group where I often add mini trainings on the topics discussed on the podcast.
What happens after/future casting
The first part of the story we carry about decision making is from the imagination. What do you think is on the other side of making that decision? Let’s say you’re a coach and you want to make a decision about who you want to coach but can’t find a way to make a final decision. What do you think will happen afterwards? You’ll actually start making offers and people will say no and that feels terrible so staying in decision-making mode is safer.
Have you ever wanted to take a cooking class or any other class? You look at the program, it seems perfect, you look at the price, it’s in your price-point, everything makes it an easy yes! You probably even did some kind of pros and cons list and it’s clearly leaning on the pros side of things but you still can’t make the decision. Next time this happens, ask yourself - what am I worried will happen after I sign up? If the answer isn’t obvious, start imagining going to that class.
For me, it’s always the same worry so I’ll share it with you. I’m afraid I’ll look like a fool in class. That stops me in my tracks. Not being the good student that’s always 1 step ahead of understands perfectly is terrifying. I’ll keep flip flopping between really wanting to do the class and coming up with really good aspects I should look up before I sign up because staying undecided and in research mode is easy.
My brain is doing this thing, it’s future casting. The pros and cons framework in itself is not enough for me to not have this story about making this particular decision. That’s what’s really in the way, not not having the perfect decision-making method, it’s the story. The future casting that your brain is doing is normal, it’s looking for potential danger, but it’s also keeping you where it’s safe, uncomfortable, unpleasant maybe, but safe.
Great news, stories can be changed and we’ll talk about that at the end bit let’s talk about the other part of the story and that’s the history you have with decision making.
History with decision making
There’s two parts to this really. The first part is the actual consequence of a past decision, I say consequence but good or bad really and the second is the history of how you’ve treated yourself in the past for those consequences.
Say you are making a decision about buying a piece of furniture. No big deal, right? Easy search, find something you like, maybe do a little comparing for price, etc and then make a decision.
What if you’ve purchased a lot of furniture in the past that you’ve not liked and regret purchasing? Does that change the ease of making that decision a little? What if you not only regretted buying that furniture but you also blamed yourself for accruing more debt. Ouch. I can see how difficult it would be to make a final call on any furniture now based on what you think of your furniture buying history.
You make it mean that you make horrible choices and you treat yourself poorly because you think you should know better, the perfect spouse, the perfect adult, would not ever have made those purchases. I’m exaggerating a little here but that was me for a while.
I had wanted to homeschool our children and we bought all of these shelves and had it all set it up. It was an expense to get it all set up and also get all the Montessori activities because that’s how we were going to do it. We didn’t homeschool our kids. I made it mean I make terrible purchasing decisions and then I blamed myself. For a long time, I blamed myself for what this cost our family. I didn’t even realize I was carrying all of this baggage until I started shopping for a new dining table.
The history you have with decision making is important to know. And yes, it can be about anything, not just purchasing decisions. It can be about decisions with your money, with your relationships, with the upbringing of your kids, with anything.
The good thing about the history you have with decision making is that it’s all judgements and judgements are a complete fabrication. It’s not factual. Let me say that again differently, you don’t have to hold on to that story, there’s no history police that’s going to come and tell you you’re wrong if you change how you see the past.
I was able to do that with the shelves and the Montessori activities. For one, we have used those shelves everywhere in our home. They currently reside in a mudroom closet as an extra pantry and in our kids’ closets to organize their clothes. Yes, I didn’t do with them what I thought I’d do with them BUT I’ve been resourceful in how I used them over the years. When I focus on that, I think I’m very good at making those types of decisions.
I invite you to do the same. What’s the upside of a part of a past decision you’ve been carrying guilt about? Can you slowly get to a place where you can let go, at least some, of the story that’s holding you back?
We have these two extremes where the brain is looking to the past to hold you back now from making a decision or it’s looking to the future. In both instances, creating monsters where they don’t exist, seeing things as threats when they’re not happening right now in this moment.
Weight of the decision
This leads me to the last part of the story you have about decision making and it’s the overall weight you give this particular decision. Many of us perfectionists are prone to all or nothing thinking. How often do you catch yourself using words like “always” and “never”? It can be sneakier than this as well. For instance, I’ve noticed myself thinking things like “Everything will change after this” and “there’s no going back”.
Is that ever really true? Better yet, isn’t that always true? What I mean is everything is always changing, this is no exception, you can never go back in time, making this decision won’t change that.
The other way I’ve seen this with myself and my clients is this idea that this will have to be THE decision you make about that thing and that you can never change it. I have lifted the weight of many decisions by simply adding FOR NOW at the end of my decision. I am choosing to do it this way for now. Oof, that opens things up, it’s no longer the most serious thing in the world. For now, I am choosing to eat less meat, for now I am choosing to take a walk before I pick up my kids from school. Not saying I’m doing any of those things but it’s much easier to make the decision and follow through when I sit in the truth that I can reassess whenever I want.
All of these will be part of what you make the decision mean
So what can you possibly make a decision mean and how could that be in your way of making a decision? I want you to think about a decision you are currently trying to make. What are some of the thoughts that follow along in your brain when you bring it top of mind? There’s a right decision to make, there’s a decision that’s better for everyone, if I go in one direction, I’m being selfish, if I go in another direction, I’m not decisive enough. The list could go on of course.
A decision in and of itself, is none of those things. Those are all appraisals I can choose to make and then carry about the decision. If I am trying to make a decision about rescuing an animal let’s say and I make that decision mean there’s a right way to make this decision but I’ve never rescued an animal before, that’s going to send me into research mode and then I’ll research forever and probably never actually do it. Not because there was ever a right way to rescue an animal but because I was sold on the idea that there was. When I think there is, and remember, I’ve never done it before, I am likely to feel confused and then that drives action but not the action of making a decision.
Confused drives the action of over-researching, ruminating on the topic, asking every single person I know what they would do, going down the rabbit hole of “best practices” because someone will always have an opinion of an even better way. With all of these actions, what I’m not doing, is making a decision. I’m looping and no animal gets rescued because I never made the decision. Not because it wasn’t possible to make a decision but because I made the decision mean there’s a right way to rescue an animal but I didn’t know how.
You might make a decision mean that people will actually see you aren’t always the good, perfectionist. That’s one to stop us in our tracks isn’t it? If I know my decision would expose something to the world that I’m not prepared for others to see, I would sit in indecision and not act on my decision. No matrix or decision-making structure will ever be good enough to make me make a decision if this is my story about a particular decision.
So now that you know it’s all about the story, what’s keeping you from making a decision? Let’s find out by uncovering your decision making story.
Uncovering your decision making story
Today, we’re really looking at the mindset around decision making so I’ll offer some questions for you to consider to find out what your story is. Once you know the story, you can poke holes in it and use whatever decision making framework you’re keen on. You’ll have much fewer objections to making the actual decision.
- What do I think will happen after I make the decision?
- What am I even slightly concerned about from what I think will happen after I make the decision?
- What is a past decision I feel icky about (maybe guilty, responsible)?
- What do I make that decision mean about myself?
- How have I been treating myself in regard to that decision?
- How can I make making this decision easier for myself?
Here’s were I want to help you create a 1% shift that will bring you closer to how you do want to make your decisions by asking yourself the following questions:
- What’s a past decision I am really proud of myself for having made?
- Now go ahead and ask yourself those same questions, what do you make it mean about you? How do you treat yourself about that decision you’re proud of?
- Now consider that at least part of the story you have about a decision you’re proud of can also be part of the story with a decision you weren’t so pleased with.
What this does is start to dismantle your story and at the same time build confidence in you decision making.
You are free to use any framework you like to help you make decisions, just make sure you do this work first or if you notice that even with the structures in place, you find yourself indecisive or stuck, do this inquiry. There is no right or wrong way to make a decision but there’s always a way to make it easier or harder for yourself based on the story you have about your decision-making.
Until next time, love to each and every One!
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