One of the major topics of my coaching conversations with clients is on the topic of decisions. Should we stay? Should we go? Should I go back to work? Should I find a new career? Should I visit my family every summer? Should we move home and stay?
I’ve been thinking recently about how strict and definitive these conversations can often feel. It’s as if there is Point A (pre-decision) and Point B (post-decision). Point A is stressful, complicated and fraught with worry over making the “wrong” choice. Point B is supposed to bring relief, confidence and a new-found sense of balance.
However, one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that my clients who feel the most confident in their decisions are not the ones who simply make a decision and go with it (although, of course, that matters). My clients who feel the most grounded in their decisions, make their decisions over and over and over again.
That is to say, they prepare for the fact that their decisions may be challenged sometimes. Those challenges can come in the form of criticism from others, but they also come from changes in situation, new information and moments of unexpected clarity or doubt.
I think this is an important point that is often missed in the decision making process. We forget that decision-making is much like learning. As professionals, we don’t get to obtain a degree and call it a day. As parents, we don’t learn to change a diaper and call our work finished. As expats, we don’t move once and figure we’ve learned all the skills we need to do it again. We keep learning.
It’s the same with decision-making. In my experience, the best decision-makers make a decision and then are open to examining the challenges that may arise after they’ve made their choice. They recognize that this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will abandon the decision they’ve made – it just means that they’re prepared to adapt when needed. A learning-centered model of decision-making ultimately provides more freedom and flexibility.
What I like most about this insight is that it takes the pressure off of us to make the “right” decision. It puts us in the position to say, “I’ve made the best decision right now with the information I have available.” It’s more forgiving when things don’t go the way we’ve hoped and it enables us to stand back and think again when we need to.
Do you have a decision you’re grappling over right now? How will you decide? And then, when tomorrow comes, how will you decide again?
To learn more about how I support clients with decision-making, check out my coaching programs here.