A moment of poor judgment can lead to a lifetime of regret. And who hasn’t made a few undeniably bad decisions? Poor decisions, especially in our youth, seem to be part of the deal.
Yet, some of us march right into adulthood without learning more effective decision-making skills.
In our NLP practitioner course, we routinely ask students to analyze their bad decisions and decipher the pattern behind them.
We train around 350 students every year, so we’ve had lots of opportunities to discover common patterns. Here are three decision-making mistakes that you simply must avoid if you want to make solid decisions.
See it. Buy it!
Feels good? Do it!
She says jump. How high?
Impulsive decisions aren’t inherently bad. You can order lunch impulsively and if it turns out to be a bad decision, you’ll get through it.
Marrying someone impulsively, on the other hand, can be a disaster that haunts you forever. Amazingly, the decision to marry is one of the more common impulsive decisions that people report.
Decisions in general, are made through imagery, sounds, and feelings. We see options, discuss them internally (or with someone else) and feel positively or negatively about moving ahead.
Thorough decisions combine all three senses – seeing, hearing and feeling. Impulsive decisions always lack one of these elements. We don’t review all the options. We don’t discuss or we don’t search our feelings.
So, be thorough in your processing and DON’T make impulsive decisions when it counts!
“One of the most important things that I have learned in my 57 years is that life is all about choices. On every journey you take, you face choices. At every fork in the road, you make a choice. And it is those decisions that shape our lives.” – Mark DeWine
2. Allowing yourself to be persuaded against your better judgment
One lady reported that she came to a very solid decision about purchasing a new car. It looked nice (imagery), but after she drove the car (feeling) she realized that it was too big for her. She didn’t fit in the seats very well and was uncomfortable maneuvering the vehicle. She gave herself a good talking to (sounds) and decided to pass on the vehicle.
Then the salesman joined into her little discussion. An hour later she drove off the lot in her brand new car! Three years later, she has two years left on the loan and regrets the decision every time she gets behind the wheel.
Sometimes we allow the judgment of others to interfere with our own. This isn’t always a bad thing, but when the other has a selfish agenda, it usually is bad!
Don’t allow others with an agenda to hijack your good decisions.
“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell
3. Cerebral spinning
Or analysis paralysis. In this case, you spin on your thoughts (the images and sounds flowing through your mind) without arriving at the feeling that prompts you to act one way or another.
Our students often describe cerebral spinning as form of inner conflict. On the one hand, this. On the other hand, that. Round and round we go!
How do you counter cerebral spinning? Here are three ideas (implement at your own risk):
- Assume that spinning on thoughts and remaining in conflict means ‘no’. Inner conflict is certainly not a yes. Consider your decision to be no and move on to other things.
- Put off your decision for a while. Allow your subconscious processes to do their job. Vow to avoid thinking about it until a certain date and then see where you’re at.
- Make an assessment of the risks involved in making the decision. What’s at stake? If there is a lot at stake, then pat yourself on the back for taking this decision so seriously. If there is little at stake, then take a small risk!
Imagine making solid, congruent and healthy decisions 99% of the time. What difference would it make in your success?