Five Useful Questions for Making Decisions — Plus One

50c07-img_4474Decisions, decisions. That’s what we’ve been talking about for the past five weeks. Decision making. Fear of making a decision. Fear of not making a decision. We’ve covered five great questions to ask ourselves when we are looking at decisions, risks, or ideas. The five questions were originally posed by Gretchen Rubin here.

To the five questions already covered, I would add this one:

Is this decision irreversible?

If I decide to do (or not do) this thing today, does that mean I’ve committed myself to it forever and ever amen? No chance of reprieve or plea of insanity?

Often, we convince ourselves it is when in fact, it’s not. We get ourselves all worked up and terrified to take one direction because we’re sure we can never change course. We’ll be stuck. It’s like we don’t remember there’s an “off” button on the blender as well as an “on.” Once we start the whole dang thing going, we’ll get sucked into that mix forever and never be able to extricate ourselves.

Now, this may be true if you’re a strawberry. It’s tough to put a strawberry in the blender and retrieve it before it’s strawberry banana surprise puree. But you are not a piece of fruit. You have options.

Well, sometimes

In fact, some things in life are irreversible. If you decide to get pregnant and succeed, you’re going to have to go through with it. To my knowledge, “control-alt-delete” has no effect there. Likewise, once you decide to say “I do,” you did. If you decide to jump off a cliff into the ocean and partway down think better of it, you’d definitely better still know how to swim.

But not that often

But those things are big, rare, life-altering things that, by their nature, happen infrequently. Most things can start out one way and then bend down the road a bit when the need arises. Why do we forget that we have control over changing our mind?

Case in point—our trip to Europe a few years ago. We had planned a detailed itinerary (and by we I mean I, seeing as I am the only one who plans vacations and the other four usually follow like lemmings to their doom). But because of transportation strikes, unavailable trains, and the French being, well, French, things didn’t always go as planned.

217b8-p1010448We detoured. We traveled in unexpected manners. We changed course as needed, still focused on the final destination, but the journey took lovely twists and turns we would not have found had we believed our original itinerary decisions to be unchangeable.

Yet so often, we refuse to start because we’re not sure we will finish the course exactly as planned.

–Why go to college? I’m just going to change my mind on what I want to do.

–Why start writing a book? I may find out I was all wrong half way through.

–Why volunteer for this organization? I may not have the time or passion for it later.

Yes, this could all be true. But does changing your mind down the road totally negate the part of the journey you already took? Does the fact that we never got to Geneva toss out all that we experienced in Paris and Barcelona?

We refuse to make a decision because we’re afraid it may not be the perfect solution forever. Here’s the revelation–

Nothing ever is.

img_2769Everything adapts. But if we fear starting because we may not end where we thought, we’ll never get to Paris at all. And what we learn in Paris may have been the whole point. That, and what we’ll learn in the detour.

In fact, when faced with something that I can’t make a decision on, I always ask myself two questions:

Will I get the chance to do this again?

Will I regret not doing it now?

If the first answer is no and the second yes, you know the decision that has to be made.

There–actually eight questions to help make decisions in the new year. I hope and pray you find them useful in the coming months. I’d love to hear about your decisions and risks for 2017!

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