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A Strategy for Making Better Decisions

I found myself coaching an individual who was in a problematic spot recently and wanted to share the process they went through to determine the best course of action for them. See, when we are in a tough situation, it is frequently difficult to decide because we have an overwhelming desire to make whatever choice will lead to a relief of the pain that we are experiencing. It’s human nature to avoid pain and seek pleasure, or at the very least, to seek an absence of pain. For example, probably something most, if not all, have experienced either a lousy boss and/or uncomfortable work environment. I know when this has happened to me in the past, my first inclination was to find a way out of the situation and fast. Unfortunately, unless we are in a dangerous situation, this will generally not lead to the best outcome because in our rush to get out of the environment, we might find ourselves in a worse one.

What is the solution to this dilemma? When you are in a tough, frustrating situation it is essential to first look at the gifts this situation has provided you, then use your findings to make an educated decision on what/where you should go next. What does this look like? Let’s go back to our original example of reporting to a terrible boss or being in a work environment that is not conducive to our best work (again, assuming we are not in a dangerous situation.) If we were to first look at the gifts the situation is bringing us, such as we are learning to manage conflict better, we’re getting lots of practice on effectively managing up, or perhaps we are learning some new skills because the boss has us working in an area that isn’t aligned with our current skill set. Whatever you feel could be a gift that the situation is teaching you, put it on your list. Once you have this list, keep it where you can refer to it when thinking about what you’d like to do next to improve your situation. By looking at the gifts the circumstances are bringing you, it puts you in a different frame of mind to make a more effective decision. Perhaps realizing all of the learning that the situation is providing you helps you decide that you don’t need to leave your current position. Instead, you decide that it is enabling you to work on your emotional intelligence skills and that the boss will eventually move on, allowing you to continue the work that you’re doing. Perhaps if you decide you still want to leave, you won’t rush into the first thing that comes along and instead take your time finding another position that suits you.

The beauty of this tool is that you can use it for whatever circumstances or situation you find yourself needing to make a decision. So what is going on in your life that is currently a pain point that you should be deciding on? Perhaps it is a situation at work, a current relationship you are in (romantic or otherwise), or maybe it is something else? Before deciding on what’s next for you, list out all of the gifts that the situation is providing you. Only after you’ve done this, is it advisable for you to think about what action you will then take.

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