Ok I admit it. I get hooked on reality TV talent shows. The latest kid on the block is the US X-factor which we’ve been watching obsessively.
A couple of weeks ago a dramatic results show brought into sharp focus one of the keys to an empowered life. The ability to make and commit to decisions.
On the show it was elimanation time – down to the bottom two and up to the judges to decide who stays and who goes home. The last judge to vote was Nicole Sherzinger. Clearly uncomfortable with casting the deciding vote she decided rather than making a decisive voting decision, she would create a deadlock so that public votes would make the final call. In other words her decision was to avoid the decision.
The result was meltdown. To many peoples surprise the public votes sent home young Rachel Crow. And no one seemed more surprised and devestated by that result than the judge that could have saved her Nicole Sherzinger.
It seems pretty clear from watching the footage that this was not the result Nicole wanted. So the question is why did she leave it up to chance? Why didn’t she just save Rachel when she could.
Because for many people making decisions is hard. Because with decision comes responsiblity – we have to own the results. So sometimes it seems easier to ignore those decisions and let fate take it’s course. But as Nicole discovered – there is no option not to decide. Not making a decision is a decision of it’s own with it’s own consequences. The only question is are we prepared to put oursleves in the driving seat?
And of course some decisions are particularly hard. Sometimes there’s no good outcome whatever the call. Sometimes the consequences are so unknown that it seems hard to figure out the path to take. Sometimes it literally feels like we’re at war with ourselves – a part of us really wanting option A and another part arguing just as hard for option B.
How do we deal with this? By starting with the most important decision. Decide to decide. Become clear within ourselves that not deciding is not an option. Procrastination will have it’s own consequences as will ongoing vacillation. Not only that, but being in decision limbo is energy sapping. As we continue to bounce back and forth between options in our mind it wears us down and can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety.
Once we’ve decided to decide, realising we’ll never have enough information be absolutely sure of any decision, we step up and make the call. This is in my experience one of the critical abilities that seperate successful and happy people from those who find themselves stuck in a rut or consumed by anxiety. The ability to be ok with making decisions that aren’t perfect and commiting to a course of action.
If we look at the etymology of the word decide we see it comes from the latin decidere which means to cut off. Part of decision making is having the abilty to be comfortable cutting ourselves off from the myriad of options to truly commit to one course of action. To decide and once we decide to not look back, not wonder “what if” if “maybe I should have”. Because it’s that tendancy to second guess our decisions that can again hold us stuck in place.
I often work with people that desperately want to feel they have more control over their lives. Usually the first step is simple – if you want to feel more control, make more deicsions. Start exercising your decision making muscles. Actively seek out opportunites to make decisions and become more and more comfortable doing so. Next time you find yourself saying “I don’t mind” or “whatever you want is fine with me” take the opportunity to practice becoming a decision making master. If you up your quotient of decision making I can’t promise you you’ll always choose the right thing, or always get what you want. But I can promise you you’ll feel much more in control of your life.
Unlike Nicole Sherzinger
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