Decisions, Decisions

I recently had a decision to make—one that would influence an even bigger decision in my life.

The state of limbo that an unmade decision creates can be utterly grueling, at least for me. I like clarity and resolution. Those things feel neat and tidy. They feel like freedom to me. Unmade decisions feel heavy.

I had already been stewing in a murky soup of fear and doubt. Then, this new sub-decision presented itself. It was painful. For days, I felt burdened, even depressed, thinking that one direction represented sensible prudence, while the other represented impossibility and irresponsibility. It seemed like the smart thing to do was err on the side of prudence. But, the thought of going that direction made me sad.

I have referred in other posts to the value I place on the quotes I have collected since 2001. I flip randomly several times each day to various quotes and find those that speak to me in the moment. I reflect on them, especially when I am in situations when I can think, like riding my bike, taking a shower, driving, etc.

In the midst of the heaviness of this new decision, as well as what it might mean for the bigger picture of my life, I flipped to one of my more recently recorded quotes. It is more practical and straightforward, and less inspirational, than many of my quotes. It was just what I needed, though.

Eric Johnson was quoted in Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity as saying, “One of the best ways to help people cast experience in a new light is to provide a formal decision-making system—such as a flowchart, a prescribed series of questions, or the engineering design process—that denies our brains the easy options we crave.”

Flipping to this quote reminded me of what I had learned in that book, so I Googled “Engineering Design Process Charles Duhigg” (author of Smarter Faster Better) and found this article.

I took the few minutes I had that morning before I needed to leave for work to start journaling through the steps. Then, still feeling laden with the unfinished business of making the decision, I got on my bike after work with the intention of completing the steps in my head.

I found the “Debate Approaches” step to be most useful on my bike. I framed my sub-decision within the context of my bigger decision and imagined three viable scenarios for my future. Then, I put each to the test against my values, purpose, personal and professional missions and the vision I want for my future. By the time I finished my bike ride, I felt lighter—as though the murkiness and heaviness around me was starting to clear.

Feeling encouraged by the insight I had gleaned from my inner work the previous evening, I approached my mindfulness practice after my workout the next morning with hope and set the intention that the right decision would be clear to me. As I was gathering my things from my small home gym and preparing to head back upstairs after completing my mindfulness practice, I literally had a moment of illumination. The weight was lifted off my shoulders, and I felt what I had so long been seeking—CLARITY!

The shift in my mood and my outlook was immediate. I knew the right decision, and I immediately released the “prudent,” but soul-sucking choice. Not only that, but I knew my next step!

What was amazing is that almost right away an opportunity presented itself that supported the decision I had made.

Then, I remembered an audio book (more on this in a future post) that I had somehow gotten for free. (I don’t remember why now.) I had listened to a little bit of it a few months ago, but then I didn’t feel motivated to continue—until this burden of indecision had been lifted. So, I started listening again, and fireworks (the kind that are just in my head and don’t make noise that scares animals) went off.

This is exactly what I need to hear!

Finding clarity around this big decision has been liberating and empowering. I am making real progress toward manifesting my vision, and I am finding that the Universe is supporting me. I know this is right, and I am so grateful for feeling that clarity.

I know that it will be important to keep nourishing this momentum of clarity and enthusiasm. Life can easily get in the way and threaten my determination, but this feels so good, and the support I am receiving from the Universe feels so real, that I am committed to following through with this vision.

If you find yourself stuck in murky indecision, I recommend trying the engineering design process. (The diagram I used is only one of MANY available with a quick Google search, so if it doesn’t speak to you, find one that does.) Although I write in my journal daily and am a huge proponent of doing so, it was freeing my mind, on my bike and in my mindfulness practice, that ultimately felt most productive for me. When you “debate approaches,” I encourage you to consider your values and what is most important to you. I did this through systematically running each option through the test in my head, against what I have defined as my values, purpose, missions and vision. Doing so brought the right decision into clear view. This clarity is further supported by the signs I have since received (and continue to receive!) from the Universe.

I hope this process will be as beneficial for you as it has been for me.

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