Considerations on decisions

Investigating situations where precious time is lost, I often find decisions being a core issue. Although we are taking decisions quickly and on a daily basis (many of them even automatically without being really aware of them) some of those can evolve to a very time consuming process.

Very often when we are in a dilemma we only think of this or that (black or white) and that's one of the mistakes. In many cases there are more options available than you might think of in the first place.

A second mistake lies in the effective time when the decision needs to be taken. While some people tend to delay a decision as long as possible (missing the best opportunities), others decide too early when not enough information is available or too few options have been elaborated yet.

So when a situation is evolving to a point of decision think of the following:
  1. Enough options elaborated? - Having only one option is dangerous (to do something or do not already requires a decision). If other people are involved then think of what their needs may be and try to find a win-win-solution.
    An example: I remember that my father sometimes had to go to the office on weekends but he also wanted to spend time with me. Well, he took me with him and showed me his working place. I remember quality time with my father when he showed me the big computer there and I was very impressed - and it made me choose my profession.
  2. Is it the right/best time to make the decision? - Did you gather enough information yet, that allows to make serious and good decision? Do you really need to take that decision NOW?
    An example: Buying a new computer or car. First thing to be aware of is: Do you really need to buy it NOW (is your old broken or not)? How much time for evaluation would be adequate for the size of the investment? Are you on top of the information? If you are in car or computer business respectively then the time for gathering information will be much shorter, otherwise you should maybe consult a friend who is.
  3. Do you really need to choose? Is there really a decision required? Sometimes you do not need to choose one thing over another as occasionally you can get both. Be aware of options that may get you both!
    Example: If you like black and also like white what about buying a shirt that has black and white stripes?
  4. (Re)think your core principles, values and priorities. When you find yourself often in dilemmas of the same type, you might improve the decision process by reviewing your core life principles, your core values or your (current) priorities.
    An example: A long time ago I often fought with myself to do something fast or good. I finally decided (of course after suffering a lot from consequences) to go for quality and prefer quality over fast results. Now many decisions of that kind are taken automatically in my subconscious part of the brain. Of course that might not always be the optimum way and I do also choose the quick fix from time to time. But wherever a fast decision process is needed the gut feeling will tend towards your core values, priorities and principles.
Related posts: Get focused with 3 Questions, Principles over rules, Direction over goals, Problems and dilemmas, Focus by decision, The golden rule.


Your situation does not suck

When you read this I assume, your brain and your heart is working. That's awesome! You can be glad!

A few months ago I listened to the audio version of the book "Tuesdays with Morrie" written by Mitch Albom.

By accident I began to search the internet afterwards and found out, that this is a real true story - see details here:
That also reminds me to another guy, Randy Pausch and his famous last lecture which I listened to some years ago and it reminds me to Nicholas James Vujicic (see him here in "no arms, no legs, no worries" or here in a shorter summary version). While searching for the links I further discovered Richie Parker.

What they have in common is: They did not give up and made the best out of situations that really suck.

Why all that now? It's because of my father in law. He suffers from Pick's disease. The big difference in his case is: It's his intellectual abilities that get reduced, disconnected and are switching off. He cannot teach me as Morrie taught Mitch. His illness hasn't been discovered in it's beginning, which is typical for this disease. Currently the situation is already very bad. Verbal communication is not really possible any more. I have to listen more carefully, don't listen to words, but listen to emotions and to non-verbal communication (such as eye-contact). His luck is, that he had a life before the illness (he arrived at 80 some days ago). But anyway, thinking of such a situation - loosing control of your own mind and even your essential core functions (writing, speaking or even swallowing reflex for example) is horrible. Even your core vital functions are controlled by your brain. Without your brain working properly you can hardly make the best out of your situation. As long as your heart and your brain is working, be happy!

Although the very reduced life quality in his current status of the illness, I could still see some moments where he seems to enjoy life. Where intellect is fading away, there is still emotion and sensation. I have accepted the situation and instead of joking with him (we were joking a lot when he was still in full health a few years  ago) I held his hand or let him pull my nose (for whatever reason he liked that).

In the 35-minute-video above of Mitch Albom, he says that what for you is the most important in your last hours of life should also be the most important right now. But isn't there something wrong with this thought? I am pretty sure, if I would know that I will die tomorrow, I would not go to work any more and stay with my family concentrating on them. However, staying with my family, playing with the children all the day, would mean - after a few months - that: Several bills are not paid any more, things will break and not being repaired, we would loose social contact to other people. So acting as it would be your last day is - oh wonder - not a good long-term plan! You need to find a healthy balance!

If you would know the future you could take better suitable decisions now. Without the information you need to consider several possible futures!
No again, rethink the sentence: "What for you is the most important in your last hours of life should be the most important right now." It does not imply that you should ONLY do what is important in your last hours of life. The sentence talks about priorities! FIRST do the important things.

I give you an example from right now: I was writing this article while the children were playing. A few minutes ago my 4-year old son came in and talked to me. He explained to me how he solved the quarrel with his older brother. That was the trigger to immediately switch attention, hug him, tell him how well he did. After 30 seconds of this positive feedback he already had enough and wanted to continue playing alone. Time to continue writing.

However, to find a healthy balance, it helps a lot being aware of the core needs of human being. And this is, what I can still learn from my father in law.

Related posts: Living your opportunities, Simple Life, How to be happy, Between GTD and GHE, Primary motivator.