I am not asking this question as the preface to a definitive how-to blog posting, but to you individually and directly:
Are you aware of the process you go through when you make your most important decisions, the ones which leave you with absolutely no regrets, no looking back?
For instance, is it a very solitary process for you, concentrating most deliberately on what you think, and what you then realize you believe, or is it important to you to bounce your gut instincts off others too? Do you write yourself through it (I do… my morning pages is a BIG part of my process) or do you talk your way through it? Do you bother documenting it at all, or visually mind-mapping it?
Photo Credit: “How’d we get here, again?”
by Margolove on Flickr
This is where I am coming from
(with the decision making question)
I have been focused on starting my 2009 by making a series of key decisions for me, for I believe that despite how painful this is for many of us, the current recession we are in has a significantly important silver lining, that of an open-mindedness to reinvention that is unprecedented in my lifetime (or my truly conscious of it lifetime).
And if you know me at all, you know that I love the prospects of creative reinvention. Most of the thought leaders I know, are open-minded contrarians.
Thus I have been systematically looking at all my systems and processes (because I am also organizationally obsessive), and challenging myself with pulling the rug out from under any automatic pilot I might be on. In my case I started with a time audit (a practice that Dwayne has coached me well in over the years I have known him), one synced with a comprehensive monthly review (just longer in scope than a Weekly Review) and then I listed all the tools I use (primarily with my productivity practices and digital software to start) so I could go down the list, and ask myself these questions in regard to every single thing listed:
As you read them, get a for-instance in your mind, such as the email program you use, the blogging platform or RSS reader you use, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, whatever… just choose something.)
- Am I still diligently purposeful with using this tool for my original intention, or not?
- If yes, is this still the best possible tool or process for me (with that still-worthy intention), or am I now aware of a new one which is better, and should replace it? What are the pros and cons of sticking with this versus switching?
- If no, am I completely clear on how my purpose has changed? Do I need to newly explore my intentions so that my attention (and thus both my time sink and resulting results) matches up optimally?
You will recall our learning that the intention and attention match-up is very, very powerful! Ho‘ohana: Redefine the word “work” and make it yours.
For me, the key in this process is coming to clarity – working “wide awake” and conscious of how I work and making sure my why? is still valid, versus sleep-walking or going through the motions.
There is also the simple realization that our purposes do change as time goes by, and that’s okay – in fact, it probably is good: we’re learning and progressing. So… we should be sure we are not stuck in the automatic pilot of an old process that does not give us optimal results.
How can decision making help us feel?
So as I do this, fully realizing why my current decision-making process is filling me with such new energy, I want to stop for a moment and encourage you to do the same thing: Understand when you soar with making your key decisions.
It is a knowing about yourself, and how you do what you do, that is very valuable. It is valuable to you, to be fully aware of how you make your best decisions, because then you can always be sure to repeat your process. It fills you with confidence, and it is highly likely that it boosts your energy levels – it certainly does for me.
It is very valuable to the rest of us too, our knowing that you make sound decisions. This is a way that you can very easily serve us as your community of fellow human beings.
If you talk about this at work, with your team, or with your boss or peers, you can help them identify their best decision-making process too. I am sure you can imagine the win-win that could be.
Look for the gut-level results to know if your decision making process is working for you, or if you have to tweak it. You want the bold stuff in this list of bullets, not the italics:
- When you have arrived at your decision, do you feel confident, or are you still left with questions?
- When you have arrived at your decision, is it easy to tell others about it clearly, or are you still unsure how you would articulate it?
- Did you start to take some concrete actions moving you forward while still within your decision-making, or did you arrive at a decision still not sure where to start?
- If you had been documenting your process, did your excitement about the decision cause you to abandon your documentation in favor of just doing it, or are you still documenting diligently to be sure you didn’t miss something?
- Do you feel newly energized even if it is a tough decision to take action with, or did your decision-making process leave you feeling tired and drained?
I would wager that 2009 will in some way present you with a major decision of some kind. I am no psychic, and I have no idea what that decision may turn out to be about for you, but 2009 has just shaped up to be that kind of crucible-for-many year (remember this Jim Collins quote from the other day?).
When you embark on that kind of crucible decision-making, pay attention to what your process is, realizing that there are three different parts to it: Your thinking/choosing process of decision making (which this talk-story is about), the decision itself, the execution of that decision which is more accurately called decision management.
If you have a decision making process you feel works very well for you, share more about it with us in the comments would you? Let’s learn from each other, so we all get better at it.
Postscript A bit more about this:
I believe that despite how painful this is for many of us, the current
recession we are in has a significantly important silver lining, that
of an open-mindedness to reinvention that is unprecedented in my lifetime (or my truly conscious of it lifetime).