Imagine this scenario…you are at a restaurant and it’s time to order. Here comes the pressure. If everyone else is ready and you aren’t, what happens? In that moment, most people will rush and choose something they may or may not really want, just to keep the dinner moving forward.
I love how this simple example, something we’ve probably all experienced, really speaks to how we make decisions.
If we are not careful, we can easily fall into a pattern of making haphazard decisions about things far more important than dinner.
Here are five steps to strengthen your resolve as you perfect the art of honest choice.
1. Plan ahead of time.
Make a habit of thinking about your life and your options. What are the things that are important to you? What goals are you working toward? Setting aside time to really consider your options in advance of decision-making gives you time to be more purposeful in your choice.
Too often we live on auto-pilot, not really thinking about what we want out of life. But there’s a special kind of magic that happens when you know exactly what you want. When the right opportunities come your way, you will immediately be able to recognize them and have the confidence to seize them.
2. Listen to your inner voice.
How often do you base your decisions on what someone else will approve of or say? Instead of thinking about what your friends, family, colleagues or community might want for you or think about you, listen to your inner voice.
You know the voice I’m talking about: the one that speaks to you of your greatest hopes and dreams. For some, tuning into this part of yourself will take some time and practice, but it is an essential skill for building a great life, so make the investment. Remember there will be plenty of time to deal with the pros and cons of your choices. But you must begin with a clear idea of what YOU want so that your voice isn’t drowned out by the opinions of others.
3. Drop the Judgment.
Are you a ninja at avoiding uncomfortable thoughts and feelings? All of us have an inner critic that tries to snuff out certain thoughts and feelings before we have a chance to really explore them. But it is important to grapple with that discomfort for a little while.
Valuable insight and self awareness is developed when we are completely honest with ourselves. Even when it hurts, stay tuned in to your own feelings and then make peace with them so you can move forward towards your goals with clarity and power.
Keep in mind, once you speak or act on your dreams, you will have to manage the criticisms of others. So, manage your own inner critic first. Otherwise, judgment (from within or without) can paralyze you.
4. Weigh your options and outcomes.
After all that soul searching and getting in touch with feelings there finally has to be a time for making decisions…weighing options and planning potential outcomes.
Here are a few questions to help you sort through your options and create the outcomes you want.
How will your choices impact the people that are most important to you?
Will the pursuit of your dream require additional support or sacrifice from your loved ones?
Are they willing participants in your journey?
What are the risks and benefits associated with each of your options?
What is the best possible outcome you can imagine?
What kind of strategy can you use to make that happen?
5. Commit to a course of action.
Sometimes we vacillate between options, carefully weighing what is good over here and what’s better over there. Spend time thinking things through but then…
Just decide and commit!
Don’t be afraid of missing out on something or facing negative consequences as a result of your choice. Life is to be lived. Live it. Gain experience by choosing with honesty. If you don’t like your results you can always edit, modify, and choose better next time.
Knowing what you really want and going after it is an ongoing process. It starts with making small but honest choices that aren’t filtered by your, or someone else’s, inhibitions. Once you’ve mastered the art of honest choice, you’ll radiate strength you never knew you possessed. You’ll be one step closer to the fulfillment of your dreams.