Burnout to Leadership

Ep#18 The best way to skip the drama and make high quality decisions

January 21, 2022 Dex Randall Season 1 Episode 18
Burnout to Leadership
Ep#18 The best way to skip the drama and make high quality decisions
Show Notes Transcript

- Why we find it hard to make decisions.
- Why you're making decisions the wrong way.
- How to make them the right way and not look back.
- How to deliver on your decision to make it work.

Hi, everyone, my name is Dex Randall, and this is the Burnout to Leadership Podcast where I teach professional mentor recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work. Hello my friends, this is Dex, hope you're doing well today. And what we're gonna talk about in this episode is decision making because it's that time of year where many of us are making big decisions about work, relationships, travel, study, holidays, health and fitness, or just what flavor of ice cream to buy. And this follows up on the Achieving Goals episode, for anyone who's still a little bit on the fence with that. And you might be making your goals for the New Year, or you might be just setting a New Year's resolution. And let me say, I know I've said this before, New Year's resolutions do have a very bad track record, over 92% of them fail, mostly within the first week, often after one day of non compliance, maybe you get a New Year's Day hangover, you don't go to the gym next day filled with shame because you didn't go the first day, you still don't go. The pattern set, impossibility fills your mind, you basically give up flat. And I think the failure rate of that one well meaning decision tells us a lot about the human brain and how we do this. In fact, faced with the statistic, most of us would realise that achieving a goal is empirically hard, and making a decision about it is likewise. It's not logically hard, but the decision we make seems to have very little influence over our actual behavior. We override it by playing the stay in bed card right away, we make a decision not to do the very important thing from yesterday. Why is that? Well, habit, naturally, is the primary reason. It does take deliberate, committed, consistent thought and action to overcome habits. We're not wired for changing habits, which is really a shame in the modern world, isn't it? But anyhow. Also think about this, making a decision in the first place requires dissatisfaction. If we were satisfied, we probably wouldn't need to make one. So probably something suboptimal has already happened, even if that's being presented with two marvellous opportunities to pick between. We're in dilemma and that itself involves discomfort and suffering. And secondly, we're almost certain to tell ourselves a number of things about the decision we need to make. First, that it's gonna be hard to make because we don't have all the information, or maybe we really don't know what we want exactly. Second, that even if we make the so called right decision, it might not work out. And that's true, it might not. Third, that both or all of the available choices have downside risk that we're not really keen to take on. We're thinking from the negative, we assume the worst, we don't focus on how well the decision could turn out, what other wonderful choices could become available to us as a result, what benefits will manifest, what fresh adventure we might have, or how it will reflect well on us. Fourth, that if we make the wrong decision, others will judge us for that. And if we've made poor choices in the past, and who hasn't, they're likely to be replaying in slow mo in our heads at this moment. Fifth, that we also judge ourselves, and probably we're a bit mean to ourselves for getting it apparently wrong, wasting an opportunity, being stupid, and all of that. Six, that the decision is final and will have lifelong consequences. And the magic seventh, that we won't be able to carry through the decision and make it work anyway. Again, we'll probably replay past fails in our heads as evidence. So with little of that bunch of stuff loose in our head, we've really loaded the dice about making this decision. Having super charged our own fear and doubt, we make it very tough to actually want to make or make a decision, and it's gonna look a lot safer probably to remain in indecision. Mull things over just a little bit longer. But of course, decision making is just a skill, it's a muscle we can develop. Before we go ahead and do that though, I'm gonna give you an exercise, I'm gonna say to you this, What are the five best things that have happened to you in your life? This is a question I always ask my clients. Write down those five best things if you can, obviously not if you're driving, but if you can. And once you've written them down, have a look. Of those five things, how many of them did you choose or did you influence with decisions that you made? If you ask me to list my best decisions, I could probably make it to at least 500 without running out of steam, and I bet you could too, unless you're three years old. By the way, if you are three, you don't need to listen to this, go play. So while I'm thinking about this, let's not foul play to cognitive bias and fear, looking for the supposed fails lurking around every corner. And you know what came straight into my mind when I even thought about that is, there was a time when I was very young and I had tried to rescue a tiny little bird that had crashed, and the thing died of fright in my hand, and I thought I'd killed it, but really, my motivation to rescue the bird was pure and it was gonna die anyway with or without my help, so was that a bad decision? Not really. Another one. In 2015, I left a very lucrative and successful job because I had already achieved what I came there to do, and I basically needed a bigger challenge. Unfortunately, I chose to do it right before Christmas, and although I found a new job and a new challenge quite quickly, it was at a pay cut. Do I regret the decision? No, because actually in hindsight, the company I left behind would shut down anyway. So take time, make a list of your decision wins, show yourself that you know how to make a good decision. And there's a method I've been taught about decisions by Brooke Castillo, it's a method I really love now. I'm gonna share it in a minute, but first of all, let's look at how not to make a decision, 'cause that's probably where you're at now. How we humans make decisions usually is how you've probably just noticed in your own habit, in your own history. We worry about the downside. So if I pick Option 1, and it goes wrong, this awful thing will happen. If I pick Option 2, and it goes wrong, these other awful things will happen. And we don't usually stop to consider the probability of failure very much either, we just think about how much pain we're gonna be in. And so in our mind, that becomes our focus, we just focus on the negative, we make it into a kind of a near certain, awful fate. And from that kinda mindset, failure's what we're gonna create quite naturally, we're certainly not in solution thinking. We also don't recognise that a decision is rarely permanent. Most of the time, if we go off track a bit, we'll learn something useful, at least we'll know what we don't like, and then we're gonna lick our wounds, reconsider our position, and often another decision is available. Think of any human relationship, for example, that you've been in that hasn't worked out, because frequently there's an option to move on even in that, or to change the dynamic, although your mind might want to fight me on that one. So I'm gonna give you an example. I had a very adversarial relationship with my mother since young, until I was in my 40s when I got fed up and decided to fix it. And I did. I worked out finally how we could meet in the middle, because she wasn't a fan of me either until then. And anyhow, one thing led to another, and I made it work. And now we're fine together, we're both incredibly relieved, actually. So if making a decision is not final, we're focused on the downside risk, our head's very negative, we're unlikely to make the best decision. We're deciding from fear and lack to avoid negative consequences. And ironically of course, we'd probably not make a good choice in that headspace, and we won't ever fully commit to the solution. I think of it like this, where making a decision from risk is like a driving instructor telling a learner not to hit that lamp post on the corner. So, let's think about making a good decision. Fine, you need to weigh up the pros and cons, and sometimes I do that on paper. But sometimes not, because remember we make decisions based on the way we think we're gonna feel afterwards, not actually based on facts. Most of us are very analytical people, we've already given the situation quite good consideration. So the reason I look at the pros and cons is not really to analyse but to think how I'll feel when they happen. And I do that also, I do, do that to be clear on what I have considered, to see my own thinking in case I've overlooked anything. Then I imagine, as I've been taught, that each of the choices will work out perfectly for me, and I choose accordingly. Then I'm choosing from my heart, my real wishes, I'm choosing from a state of abundance. Not naivety, but from a knowing that I can make either of the choices work if I give it my best shot. I will find a way to make it work. And I self coach on it too, I look at my choice, and I find a way to buy into it more, to believe in it more, to believe more strongly that it will work out. I kind of shore it out with some more positive thoughts. So let's say I'm deciding to take on some new work, for example, but I have reservations. I work through them. Let's say I've got to find more time, or I need to find someone to work with on it, or there's an area of knowledge I need to develop out, or I need an introduction to a new market. I work each of those out, I make a plan to overcome every potential obstacle. I get right into solution thinking. I also show myself all the upsides, what could go right, how wonderful that would be. I like to write that part down, because sometimes our brain, that's the piece our brain skips over and doesn't make a good job of. Then once I've done that, I just become willing to stand by myself and make the decision. I commit 100% to it, and I don't look back, and I commit to living with the consequences. Once you've made a decision though, be in solution, don't keep going back and asking yourself if you've made the right decision. That's a self punish, it's a complete waste of energy, it's not doing yourself any service. Because there is no certainty, there never will be. The only way we can make a decision is on the information we currently have. And probably later, we're gonna have more or different information, but then we can always make a fresh decision without recrimination on the old one. Sometimes it's gonna work, sometimes it isn't, that's life. So when you make a decision, if you make it from a place of imagining that either choice will work out 100% perfectly for you, ask yourself which one would you pick. Normally, it comes really quickly, it's not something that we have to force. So when that comes to you, decide. Never look back, put all your energy into making it work. Don't be mean to yourself about your choice ever. When you decide using that method, it's really energy saving, it's quicker, and usually, it's more reliable, it's far more likely to get you the outcome that's gonna work for you. And also, because it's quick and straightforward, it won't generate a great deal of stress or ongoing stress. So once a decision is made, remind yourself of it frequently, don't offer yourself alternatives and return to decision fatigue, re deciding. Be firm in your commitment, discipline yourself to stick to your plan, and take massive action until it works. And I think that's probably the subject of a future episode on here. But that's what I do, that's how I do it. And these days, I find decision making very easy. And also, it's easy to take action. I've trained myself in how to think about that and how to do it. I've up levelled my whole kind of panorama of decision making, and you can too. Anyway, that's what I've got for you today. Thank you for listening, very happy you are here. You can visit my website at burnouttoleadership.com for the show notes. And please subscribe and rate this podcast, or forward it particularly to anyone you know who needs help with burnout. This is a new year, right now as I'm making this, it's a new start. You really don't have to put up with burnout regardless of your work situation. And stay on at the end for how you can contact me if you yourself need help with burnout. Have a terrific week, and I will talk to you next time. If you're in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout To Leadership program. You can book in to talk with me at burnout.dexrandall.com. Just tell me what's bugging you, and let's make a plan to fix it.