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A Simple Trick to Make Better Decisions

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This morning I hit the snooze button.

And it was glorious.

Those 7 minutes felt like the most indulgent and decadent thing I could possibly give myself (of the things I typically engage in at 7 am)

And while that time may not have made up for that extra episode of “New Girl” the night before, I used the snooze the way I typically do: semi-consciously envisioning my day and rationalizing the snooze itself. And that’s precisely what inspired this post.

See, we all make small decisions that we rationalize. Whether it’s snoozing, quitting a job, or ending a relationship, we all have motivators that cause us to make a decision and justifications that convince us that we made the right one.

Take my snooze for example. I was motivated by my laziness, warm bed, and cute dog. In the past, I might have hit the snooze button until I was dangerously close to being late for work. This time, I did a sleepy cost-benefit analysis and decided that there were no short-term consequences since my first client wasn’t until 10. As for long-term consequences, I highly doubted that the 7 minute shift would throw my circadian rhythm to shit. And so I enjoyed my snooze, knowing that I had made an informed and conscious decision.

Of course, there have been plenty of times when my decisions followed a very different pattern:

  1. I’d feel discomfort (I’m lonely.)
  2. I’d take an action to alleviate the discomfort (I’ll call ____ to have some company even though I know she usually pisses me off.)
  3. I’d rationalize the action (I feel worse, but I couldn’t think of a better option.)
     

That pattern is usually what resulted in my staying in bad relationships, having an extra drink, or calling out sick. Thankfully, I’ve learned:

The Formula for Conscious Decision Making

1. Observe my rational & emotional motivators:

How much of this is based on my feelings and how much is based on facts?

2. Analyze short & long term benefits:

  • How will this impact me in the short term AND the long term?
  • Will this get me closer to or further from my goals?
  • Is this in line with my values?
     

3. Evaluate the results:

  • How do I feel?
  • Did I get the results I want?
  • What might I do differently next time?
     

This formula, though simple, isn’t one that most people consciously engage in. Left to our own devices, we are conditioned to take the action that favors alleviating short-term discomfort despite the long-term consequences. 

My Challenge To You:

For 24 hours, consciously choose actions that align with your long term goals, your values, and your best self instead of what feels good in the moment. After all, awareness creates choice. And choice creates freedom.

As for me, I will always be grateful that being a “morning person” isn’t one of my aspirations. So please excuse me, I require a mid-morning nap.

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