At the risk of being deliberately cryptic, I’ve spent the last nine months trying to make a very big decision.
I’m not going to divulge the details, but the process is definitely up for discussion.
Having always considered myself a pretty intuitive person, when this ‘problem’ lobbed into my life at the start of the year, I was pretty confident that I knew how to handle it.
That is, like any other problem in my life, I’d wait it out until I ‘felt’ what the right move would be.
Until it didn’t.
As time passed, the issue just got messier and more difficult to understand – seemingly taking my decision-making powers of intuition with it.
Stuff got too muddy. My brain went foggy. I became overwhelmed.
The one thing I knew? Intuition was not going to cut the mustard.
I needed something else – but what?
A recent article by Robert I. Sutton in the Washington Street Journal revealed the biggest mistakes leaders make when making decisions.
His #1 point? Dishonesty.
Leaders who deliberately conveyed a collaborative approach to workplace problems, eg “What you think matters, Lucy?” without ever having the intention to follow through distorts trust and therefore the decision-making process.
How does this relate to my problem?
I guess the honesty part resonates. Even personal decisions are managed best when approached with a fierce honesty.
For me, this honesty manifested in three main ways.
A friend recommended the Insight Timer app and it changed my life. I now meditate twice a day, 30 minutes at a time. If this sounds like a big chunk of my day, you’re right! But I have found a pattern that works; first thing as I wake up (headphones in ears) and last thing at night flat out on my bed, often falling asleep midway. I sleep better and perform better and therefore think about my problem better.
Stripping back the layers of feelings has helped me uncover the issue at the heart of my problem. But doing that has required a lot of reading. I’ve read so much this year – six or seven non-fiction books and I would estimate about 100 different online articles. Admittedly some of this reading has been a little less helpful than others. When you’re feeling anxious or stuck in your problem, you can find anything on Google, right? Everything from the alarmist to the extremely simplified.
3. I’ve talked about it
A self-confessed phone-phobic this past year has given me new-found love and appreciation for verbal communication! I’ve found sharing my problem with a wide range of different minds in my life extremely soothing and helpful. The varied perspectives have kept me (mostly) on an even keel. I’ve also found that talking honestly about my problem, shares the load and widens the net of possibilities. Friends have come back to me at various times throughout the year with their own thoughts, solutions or ideas.
As the mum of two happy, noisy boys under five there is not much room for quiet, so I have had to create my own tunnels of solitude. For all the talking I’ve done (as above), I’ve kept a very low social profile and used night-time to really focus on unwinding. Read: going to bed and reading and meditating and getting as much sleep as humanly possible. In short, being true to me.
Have these methods all helped? Yes, and no.
Meditation has become a non-negotiable, the other things have been more of a day-to-day decision, depending on energy levels and mood.
Sometimes all the talking and perspective can keep you a bit lost or overwhelmed. So, choose your people wisely and keep big chunks of space in between, to recoup and check-in with what you really want.
By the same token, too much time alone with a festering mind, just leads you to – well, fester. Socialising in a comfortable environment with the right mix of people can be energising – which in turn helps build perspective.
Bottom line: honesty just helps.
As the Washington Street Journal article explores, good decision-making has a lot more to do with keeping true to who you are, than most people realise.
Don’t mislead yourself. That’s actually harder than it seems.