I was recently talking with someone about a decision I had to make that’s been weighing on my mind. It’s not so much that the actual decision matters hugely in the broad scheme of things, but I am concerned that I felt powerless to make the other decision, which was a no and carried the weight of feeling that I was letting others down.
I know intellectually that saying no to one thing means saying yes to other things, or conversely, when we say yes to something we are saying no to something else possibly without realizing it. Additionally, it probably doesn’t serve others we think we are helping by saying yes if we will not give it 100%. But that doesn’t make it easy…and it wasn’t a clear answer one way or another, at least in the way I thought about it.
Someone shared a tool with me, a set of questions, that I think is worth sharing. Perhaps these will help you with a future decision.
- What will happen if I do?
- What will happen if I don’t?
- What wont happen if I do?
- What wont happen if I don’t?
I thought long and hard about the first two questions, but not the second two. Had I taken time with those, I think it would have made my decision more powerful.
Marie Forleo offers a different tool that may also help – if you allow yourself to trust your gut. She tells us to think about the decision to be made and to ask ourselves whether saying yes makes us feel expansive or closed off. As we think about it and take a moment to breathe into it, she instructs us to monitor our bodies reaction. Is it settling, or do we get butterflies? Do we breathe deeply or does it turn shallow? She thinks something will happen to our bodies that will tell us the answer.
Another mechanism I have developed that’s helped with many decisions is to get clear on my guiding goals. When I decide whether to take on a project, I ask if it will further at least one goal, or many? I also consider my other current projects and whether that area is well nurtured right now, or not? Here’s my current guiding goals to give you more of a guide; though it could be any list of things for you personally in your life right now:
- Curiosity (take new opportunities that fit with my other goals)
- Work for self & exercise creativity in my daily work
- Help others in a meaningful way who cannot afford to hire me (both money and/or time – the amount of each depends on the other areas in life at the time)
- Financial security – want to stay in my home, travel, take time off
- Speaking and writing engagements to share with others
Decisionmaking can be hard. We often do not have perfect information; even in hindsight we don’t have perfect information because we can never know how the other scenario would play out. Nonetheless, we can strive to make the best decision possible, and then move forward.