Being unable to make decisions will lead to you to feeling in a rut. And this isn’t just me talking from experience (although I could). Neuroscience has proven that not being able to make decisions affects in a negative way the brain circuits responsible for wellbeing (Dr Alex Korb “The Upward Spiral”).
So, how does well-being relate to making decisions? Anxiety is a key factor which influences people’s emotions and can also affect them physically. Our generation is faced with more decisions to make and options to choose from than previous generations. Present research shows that mulling over a few options may weigh heavily on your mind, which could cause exhaustion and unnecessary stress.
This is why a number of leaders in the personal development world have reduced the number of decisions they are taking daily by removing some altogether. For example, they have a menu for the week and eat the same food every week. Or they wear the same outfit every day.
The benefits of making decisions
When you stop procrastinating and you start making decisions, these are the benefits you will enjoy:
- focused attention and enhanced perception
- increased enjoyment
- increased dopamine
- utilisation of habits
- perceived control
- reduced levels of worry and anxiety
On top of it all it will help you make more decisions – and thus creates a virtuous cycle 🙂
In a nutshell once you get started there is a chance that you will feel better about yourself and more in control of your life.
How it worked for me
I embarked on my own personal development journey a few years ago. Truth be told I didn’t really know what to except for the first retreat I attended. I didn’t go with a plan. I was just curious.
The first thing we did was to pick 3 areas of our life we wanted to work on and we then started to work on our goals. We spent the entire week working on setting up a plan of action to achieve these goals.
By the end of the week I definitely had clarity that I didn’t have when I arrived. I had a plan for the next 6 months and it felt great! I had picked one specific thing in each of the following three areas of my life: health, wealth and relationship.
Not all went to plan but the goal I had set for myself in the health area was to quit smoking and I did achieve that. At the time of writing, it had been 4 and a half years since I have stopped smoking and this has had impact in all areas of my life, not just health.
Since then I regularly take the time to review my goals, check that they still resonate with me or tweak them.
Doing this regularly has given me a sense of direction that I was lacking before and it helps me keep my work-life balance in check, ensure that I look after all areas of my life, and not focus on just one.
Let’s get you started
Before I dive into the details of how to make decisions, I should mention that this is applicable for any type of decisions, big or small. This could be about you having thought about learning how to play guitar for years without doing it or it could be about weight loss. What you choose to act on does not matter. What does matter is that you make a decision and take action.
Make a good decision, not the best decision
Do not let yourself become overwhelmed with the details and the pros and cons of each option. Just make a decision and you will slowly start feeling the benefits.
Take a step in the right direction
The process of making decisions isn’t complete until you start implementing the decision you have made. So once you have made the decision, take the first step towards it. If you have decided to go for a walk, just start by putting on your trainers.
Figure out what is important to you
Studies have shown that focusing on your values reduces the brain’s stress response. So focus on what is really important to you: what makes you feel happy? What achievements are you proud of? What qualities do you want others to see in you?
Take some time to think about the answers to these questions, write them down and keep them somewhere you can see them regularly. Personally I have the list of my values saved on my phone so I can access them whenever I need a reminder.
The matter of finding your values can in itself be overwhelming the first time you think about them. If you are struggling, you can take a free test online on the website of Dr Demartini https://drdemartini.com/
Decide for something you want, not against something you do not want
The point here is to focus on something positive, not negative. Thinking about something in a positive way activates the right circuits in your brain and help you feel more positive generally.
Create specific long-term goals
If you start thinking about what is important to you and your values, your goals should come to you easily. As explained above I always have 3 main goals around health, relationships with others and wealth and I adjust them regularly.
As always, I’d love to hear how you get on. Leave me a comment below!