The Anatomy of Decision-making

I’m trying to make a decision that has been floating in and out of my head for months.

It’s driving me crazy that I can’t find a comfortable resolution. Just decide, own it, act, done. Instead I am going back and forth, trying to assess it from all angles, talk to friends, my mother, my grandmother, my brother, and on and on.

I think I’m struggling because usually I’m pretty certain of what I want, and I can hunker down in my head, come clean on what I really want and go for it.  Also I have incredible people in my life who really know me and I think usually help ask questions to spur me to think about angles or questions I hadn’t thought of. I also don’t harbor regret (or luckily haven’t yet) which can really be a decision-making inhibitor.

But as I’m um, growing up, the decisions I’m making carry more weight. It’s less about, ‘do I want to intern for three months for no money at a company that looks cool in New York?’ and more like, “how do I grow in my career to live a satisfying and full life?”

I’ve tried meditating (see earlier posts), journaling, and of course a lot of talk therapy with my friends and family. Still, nothing.

Then there’s the other side of me that just wants to be free from all this rationalizing and just ACT. And maybe even face negative consequences from being rash, but at least I would know that I wasn’t timid in changing.

I just read The New York Times piece called “The Big Decisions” that sort of encourages the later. The article basically says that if you’re on the fence about doing/not doing, people are almost always happier when they do make the change.

Based on the results of tossing over 20,000 virtual coins, the study found that people were happier after making a major change, whether they did it because the coin forced their hand or because they decided on their own. – 

I like that. So then I kept reading to see how other experts assess the decision-making process. I saw this in “The Choice Explosion” by David Brooks in another NYT article.

…Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 rule. When you’re about to make a decision, ask yourself how you will feel about it 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now and 10 years from now. People are overly biased by the immediate pain of some choice, but they can put the short-term pain in long-term perspective by asking these questions.

I like that too. I’m afraid of being uncomfortable. Of kicking myself for not going with the other option. And probably, if I’m being totally honest with myself, with the change itself.

We can never know how exactly something will pan out. And a general fear of failing or loss aversion can make it feel impossible to decide to change. And yet, I agree with “The Big Decisions” point that saying yes to change has always been right, even when it was hard or painful or led to quickly make another choice. It probably revealed something I needed, that I wasn’t going to grasp standing still.

My deadline is the end of this month.

To be continued.

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