We all want the same outcome, it is the process and our choices of how to get there that is individual to each of us. The definition of a choice is when two or more options are available, while a decision is actually executing that choice. Whether, it’s a relationship, business or a financial decision, how do we choose?
A human has the opportunity on average to make over 100 decisions per day, with some more vital decisions than others. Who you are with, who you have become and what is your net worth are all example outcomes from decisions. We spend time focusing on our dreams and setting goals without ever understanding the importance of the process that we need to take in order to get there. To move forwards you must make a decision but first we must understand how the mind works, understanding that is the first progression and a step in the right direction.
In any given moment, we have two options, the first is to step forwards into growth or the second is the step backwards into safety. If you have made the step into growth, then you can move into final phase of decision making ‘execution’ or as I prefer to call it action.
The brain will make a decision either consciously or sub-consciously. The conscious is when you make a decision by assessing the options and outcomes, usually made by either strategy or emotion. However, this can be committed by either “the chimp “or “human” part of the brain and even occasionally, both. “The chimp” as an emotional state will be the first to reach to a conscious decision. This decision will tend to be rash, emotional and simplistic in its conclusion and can often be linked to a negative mind-set depending on previous experience. “The human” on the other hand, will evaluate all options and try to think on both sides of the table. As good as the human sounds, if you can control the chimp’s emotional mind-set, it is important to hear both views and encourage a combination of the human and chimp solution.
Sub-conscious is a computer like response which is already wired in our brain to respond, without much if any known thoughts but can still have emotion tangled inside. We may feel its gut instinct or on review wonder how we got to that conclusion. This comes from your computer part of the brain that has learnt to automatically answer over time through previous experiences.
The feature that combines and controls the decision making tool is that of the mind-set. A simple change in mind-set makes anything possible. A simple difference in mind-set can be seen as:
The power to listen or the power to ignore
The power to compliment or the power to criticise.
To increase our productivity, we must understand that we can control it, its not destiny. First we must change our mind-set at the forefront through our actions.
If we want to be even more effective with decision making, we must have the confidence of the control we have and believe it will lead to make the right decision. When we are not in control we let our parents, cultures, government, peers and the media persuade us. To sum the importance of control with our mind-set, on judgement day you will be the one who deals with the consequences of your decision.
Now we have progressed through the stimulus aspect of the decision and we have prepared our mind-set to evaluate and build a strategy.
When evaluating: it is important to consider what is the one power that controls our life? Motivation, is normally intrinsic for most, although extrinsic can occur depending on the individual. When doing this process, we need to consider the following:
• What are they key benefits aligned with my motivation and goals?
• What is the worst that could happen and how can I handle it?
The two questions, one more negative than the other, should give clear definitions on what each path offers and which is best to be able to execute. Further investigation will include SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat) analysis and other techniques to improve the data and evidence required. I also believe instinct should be taken into account as that initial emotion occurs for a reason.
Congratulations, you have made your decision.
Now we are required to build the process out with a strategy, as we head towards the execution. In any decision, a strategy must be put in place in order to fulfil the selected path and to make an effective response. This is no different to taking your driving test, asking a girl out on the date or acquiring a new company – a strategy is needed.
The strategy needs to be your plan, adapting your mind-set, evaluation of the situation and what you have to do in order to achieve your goals. Furthermore, in order to be successful you must have a deadline and clear outcomes to the strategy to be able to execute timely.
When we act to execute our decision: our mind-set should have prepared us. In our decision we should understand and believe in it, while our strategy should allow the process to be completed. Despite all preparation before hand, execution may still not happen if our mind-set is not controlled nor focused. If this does happen, it is important to remember not to be afraid to fail. While not looking back, even if your mind wonders into the negative playing field, jump: try again, learn from mistakes and take another chance.
In summary, choice is a process and one that matters. It is our choice to respect ourselves, others and everything around us. Choices come from responsibility but leads to consequences. When I said about ‘We all want the same outcomes’, that solution is to either push us away from pain or pull us closer to pleasure: this is the power of choice.