A Simple Trick to Make Better Decisions

Make Better Decisions

This morning I hit the snooze button. And it was glorious.

Those 7 minutes felt like the most indulgent and decadent thing I could possibly give myself (of the things I typically engage in at 7 am)

And while that time may not have made up for that extra episode of “New Girl” the night before, I used the snooze the way I typically do: semi-consciously envisioning my day and rationalizing the snooze itself. And that’s precisely what inspired this post.

See, we all make small decisions that we rationalize. Whether it’s snoozing, quitting a job, or ending a relationship, we all have motivators that cause us to make a decision and justifications that convince us that we made the right one.

Take my snooze for example. I was motivated by my laziness, warm bed, and cute dog. In the past, I might have hit the snooze button until I was dangerously close to being late for work. This time, I did a sleepy cost-benefit analysis and decided that there were no short-term consequences since my first client wasn’t until 10. As for long-term consequences, I highly doubted that the 7 minute shift would throw my circadian rhythm to shit. And so I enjoyed my snooze, knowing that I had made an informed and conscious decision.

Of course, there have been plenty of times when my decisions followed a very different pattern:

  1. I’d feel discomfort (I’m lonely.)
  2. I’d take an action to alleviate the discomfort (I’ll call ____ to have some company even though I know she usually pisses me off.)
  3. I’d rationalize the action (I feel worse, but I couldn't think of a better option.)

That pattern is usually what resulted in my staying in bad relationships, having an extra drink, or calling out sick. Thankfully, I’ve learned:

The Formula for Conscious Decision Making 

  1. Observe my rational & emotional motivators:

    • How much of this is based on my feelings and how much is based on facts?

  2. Analyze short & long term benefits:

    • How will this impact me in the short term AND the long term?
    • Will this get me closer to or further from my goals?
    • Is this in line with my values?
  3. Evaluate the results:

    • How do I feel?
    • Did I get the results I want?
    • What might I do differently next time?

This formula, though simple, isn’t one that most people consciously engage in. Left to our own devices, we are conditioned to take the action that favors alleviating short-term discomfort despite the long-term consequences. 

My challenge to you:

For 24 hours, consciously choose actions that align with your long term goals, your values, and your best self instead of what feels good in the moment. After all, awareness creates choice. And choice creates freedom.

As for me, I will always be grateful that being a “morning person” isn’t one of my aspirations. So please excuse me, I require a mid-morning nap.

What helps you to make better decisions?
Share your answers with the Community in the Comments Section below!


How to Know if Your Decision is Based on Caution or Fear

How to Stop Spiraling & Start Solving Your Problems


How to Believe in Yourself

The holiday season is officially here and I’m here to deliver some shocking news: Santa isn’t real.

When I was a kid (and slightly nerdier than I am today) I remember trying to prove he existed. Whether that be by staying up late on Christmas Eve or trying to calculate just how fast his sled would have to travel to hit every kid’s home in one night, I was determined to believe in him.

The trouble was that for most of my life, I wanted to believe in everything but myself. No matter how outlandish it might seem, it was easier to believe in unicorns (which I do) than the idea that I’m perfect exactly as I am.

Not believing in myself sabotaged every area of my life:

  • I didn’t apply to jobs out of fear they’d reject me
  • I dated assholes
  • I didn’t set or maintain any boundaries

I seemed to believe that failure would be the end of the world.
As in, apocalypse type end of the world.
It felt like a sci-fi end of days movie, complete with the overplayed cheesy theme song that one might awkwardly sway to at a middle school dance.

Now that I’m older, am I magically free of self-doubt? Hell no.

Better than that, I believe that failure at an endeavor is not synonymous with failure as a person.

Mistakes, disagreements, and breakups are now little pieces of data that I can draw upon when I need to remember that shit happens and life goes on. And not being liked sometimes means I’m doing the right thing. After all, I’m pretty sure that if Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. were stressing over what others thought, they wouldn’t have gone on to challenge the norm.

And while I’m not creating a political revolution, that plaguing sense of self-doubt often feels like a battle waged within me.

So how did I start to believe in myself? I developed a track record.

I created a list that I affectionately call my “Fearlessness List.” It sits as a virtual sticky on my laptop and recounts every time I didn’t believe in myself, but took action anyway. The list ranges from “ending an unhealthy relationship” to “building a website” to “setting boundaries with my mother.”

And that list may have been the greatest catalyst for my growth. No exaggeration!

Why? Because every time I feel self-doubt rise within me, I have an almanac of my achievements waiting to cheer me on. So when I take the next right action, whether I kick ass or fail, I’m developing self-trust.

And I can assure you, despite the many signs I see on the subway, the world has never ended because of it.

So here’s my challenge to you: Practice.

Practice acknowledging your self-doubt and acting anyway. Write it down and look at it often. Think back to past wins and throw those on there, too. And when you’re in a new situation and don’t know what to do, get comfortable, knowing that you already have everything you need inside you.

And as you practice, you’ll start to see that unlike my search for Santa, your best self was there all along.

Why I Started Listening to My Inner Critic

I hear a lot of coaches talk about the battle against our “inner critic,” that little nay-saying nag that lives in our heads whose sole purpose is to convince us that we suck.  Admittedly, I was one of them. And until somewhat recently, I thought that was pretty sensible. After all, why indulge the bitch living in my brain? Shouldn’t I fight against her?

So, I prayed on it. I threw affirmations at it. I meditated on it. I therapized at it. I pretty much hit it with every self-help trick known to man.

And that’s when I decided to try something new. Why? Because a different approach yields a different result. Would my new strategy be better or worse? I was prepared to find out.

I decided to (consciously) indulge and hear her out. What did she actually have to say? Could I listen to it without getting emotional or telling her to f*ck off?

I invited my inner critic to lunch. It was kind of like those “let’s make peace” lunches you see on the Real Housewives of ______ (insert your closest city here) where the meeting of the minds either leads to a resolution, or at the very least, an entertaining episode.

And so we engaged in a dialogue.

It went something like this:

“I think it’s time I take things to the next level.”

“WTF? Are you nuts? You’ll never be any good at that. Why try? You don’t have what it takes. BTW, who do you think you’re kidding with that push up bra. You’re not fooling anyone, honey.”

(Right about here is where I’d normally throw a drink in her face)

“Thanks. I know you’re here to keep me safe. To make sure I never do anything that makes me uncomfortable. I know you like to protect me from being scared. And for a while, that was helpful & super comfy.”

“So why rock the boat? It’s safer to be sensible. Just keep doing exactly what you’re doing. Change=Bad. ”

“Cause I’m no longer comfortable being comfortable. I’m tired of playing small. I’d rather take a risk and move forward, than be safe and stay in the same spot.”

The battle continued with snark thrown from both sides, but you get the point:

I engaged. I thanked her for her role. And I non-judgmentally stated my case.

Ultimately, your inner critic is a strength that’s dialed up too high. It existed at one point to help you obey rules and color inside the lines, but as adult, it no longer serves you. If you deny any part of yourself, it will eventually come out in a bitchy and/or maladaptive way. For example, I have a friend who is scared shitless to communicate his feelings. His inner critic tells him that if he does, people won’t stay in his life. So instead of talking things out, he waits until it builds up and erupts. Not surprisingly, his relationships look a lot like Pompeii.

So, instead of rejecting your inner critic or letting any one voice be louder than the others, get curious and hear each part of you out.

The Takeaway:

No decision is one sided. Allow each voice in your head to have a turn to speak: the angel, the devil, and everything in between.