Lesson #1 — Why am I making this decision?

Looking at the “why?” of every decision we make is a good place to start.  “Why am I making this decision?”

This of course is simplified, but a good starting point.

what-motivates

You’re making up your mind about something (something small, something that affects the next half hour or so, and doesn’t cost any money) and you’ve got lots of possibilities you can choose from.

  1. Make a list of your options, write down at least 10… never less than 10, the more the better.
    • Often we dismiss options sub-consciously before they even see the light of day.
    • Let these options see the light and begin to make conscious choices about your life.
    • Write down the obvious ones (do the dishes) and the wild ones you’d normally dismiss (go dance on a beach).
  2. Beside each option, define the reason that you would choose that option.

    For example: You’ve had a bad day at work and you’re home and deciding what to do:

    • Eat ice cream — because I’m feeling crappy and it’ll make me feel better — coping mechanism
    • Write angry email to coworker — because I’m angry, frustrated and I deserve to tell them how I feel
    • Turn on the TV — habit, avoidance — coping mechanism
    • Pick up a novel — habit, avoidance — but combined with I really like the book and it would help me feel better
    • Take a walking meditation outside — because I need to let the day go, put it behind me, so I can sleep good tonight and make good decisions tomorrow about how I’m going to handle the decision at work
    • Journal about it — guilt, “shoulds” — god! I hate journaling

    Write down at least 4 more, and maybe 14 more.

  3. Choose an option and do it.
    • It can be any of the options.
    • Ice cream has been known to solve all the problems with life.  🙂
    • This isn’t life or death, it’s about learning about yourself and why you make the decisions you do.
  4. Watch your emotional state while you are performing the option you chose.
    • Be very conscious through this whole process.
    • Don’t kick yourself, or give yourself a hard time about any of this, it’s an experiment and a learning process.
  5. Once you’re done, sit back down with your list, and ask yourself:
    • Did the option I chose solve my problem?
    • Did the option I chose make me feel better about myself and my life?
    • If others are around me, was the option I chose to their benefit, or at least a neutral influence on them? Or did I negatively impact them?
    • Did the option I chose move me toward my highest life?
  6. a) If you’re pleased with your choice… good!
    b) If not, ask yourself: When I’m in this situation next time, which one of these might be the better choice?

    • Make a commitment to remember this time and the insight you’ve gained.
    • Next time you’re in this situation, you’re not bound by this decision, but consider it as a data point in your future analysis.
  7. Journal about this experience (on the computer or on paper, your choice).
    • Journaling creates a history that you can look back on and shows you how far you’ve come.
    • Journaling holds you to account for your decisions, gives you a record of your choices.
    • Journaling makes it “real” beyond just a random thought experiment.
  8. Do this as often as you can, until it comes to the point where you can do this in a finger snap, and know all your motivations for every decision you make.

This exercise is only between you and yourself, you don’t need to share it with anyone else.

The purpose is to help you understand why you’re making the decisions you make.

We often make decisions because we think we should, rather than because it’s the best decision for our higher good.  Or we make a decision based on a coping mechanism that no longer serves our highest good.  Or a million other reasons that aren’t obvious until we take the time to sit down and actually look at the real reasoning behind the decisions we make.

Understanding the reasons you make the decisions you do, is the first step in learning how to take responsibility for the decisions you make.