Let me preface this by saying: I am a huge fan of making lists.
To do lists. Pro/Con lists. Task lists with subtasks. Journals, day planners, moleskines. I love them all.
There’s nothing as satisfying as getting organized in a way that lets me see all the moving pieces at a glance.
However, there is such a thing as list exhaustion. And I’ve suffered from it. Many times.
When a decision first lands in your lap, the urge to map out the Pros and Cons is instinctual and positive! Getting it all out of your head into a neutral space is a great way to alleviate mental pressure.
But eventually, that decision needs to get made, and no amount of list making will change the fact that it must be made based on the currently available knowledge, with the potential for a less-than-ideal outcome.
In other words, when we make a decision, there’s always a chance that it will be the wrong decision. And no Pro/Con list can save us from that.
When the initial rush of organization passes, and the mind moves onto the, “Ok seriously, it’s time to decide” phase of the process, it’s so tempting to keep making lists in an effort to minimize foreseeable risks or complications. And yet… making those lists, analyzing over and over, is just keeping us stuck in our heads.
Getting stuck in our heads is a great way to play it safe. It gives us all the excuses in the world to not take action until we know it will work out in our best favor.
It’s an endless loop of self-serving logic that feels good because it’s protecting us.
But to make a truly balanced and well-informed decision, we must exit that logic loop and enter into a more intuitive place within ourselves. Every decision has, at its core, either a desire or a fear. We must consult our emotional guidance to understand the heart of the decision. This is the perfect time to perform a gut check. What do I feel to be true? What about this decision scares me? And is it a rational fear, or my imagination acting out?
Every decision, big or small, cannot be settled by logic alone. Logic is a valuable tool; it helps us understand what does, and does not, work as far as our available resources go (e.g. money, time, help, etc). But no amount of logic can answer the core emotional question that exists at the heart of every practical decision.
Once we understand the emotional issue at the heart of the decision, it becomes much easier to move forward and make a clear decision - even if we only take baby steps! - using the logical points we’ve already outlined.
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