The Art of
Decision Making

Decision making can often be a difficult process. Add in the uncertainties of the past year and it can become easy to get stuck in a state of indecision. Nicole Wallace, Licensed Mental Health Counselor explores the art of decision making and what the research says can help you overcome decision fatigue.

By Nicole Wallace, LCMHC

It seems that with everything Covid-19 brought this past year, an entire list of new things to make decisions about was added to my list.  I think many of you can relate.  However, here is a sample of my list if you have no clue what I’m talking about:

 

  • Will I work from home or will I go into the office?
  • Will I sign the kids up for remote school one semester, all year, or just keep them home?
  • Will I go into the grocery store or just curbside for the rest of my life?
  • What will I sanitize with if I can’t find Lysol?
  • Where else can I go to find toilet paper?
  • Mask or no mask at this or that event?
  • Zoom party or Google Meet party?

 

The list is endless these days.  Some of these decisions may seem trivial.  Some of these decisions have had an effect on my entire life this past year.  I found I needed time to process the important decisions, the ones that sometimes felt like the need to decide would paralyze me and I would sit in this frozen state unable to decide.

Many of my clients come to therapy seeking someone to make the hard decisions for them. I often have to disappoint them within the first session and inform them that therapy is not about someone making the decisions for you. Therapy is about someone helping you explore the decision making process so you can make the decision that is best for your own life.

- Nicole Wallace

I decided to dig into the research of decision making with more depth than I have in the past.  I wanted to get past just the pro/con list and find a method which would be both thoughtful and yet methodical.

 

I wanted a process that would be reflective of what I use in therapy.  I found a wealth of material.  Listed below are some key questions I found in my search.  Try to ask yourself these questions if you are struggling with making an important decision in your life.

 

  1. What is the decision?  Define the main problem.  When we generalize a problem or situation it is difficult to find clear choices.  Generalizing: I am not sure if I should send the kids back to in-person school.  Defining: I am concerned about the cleanliness of the school. 
  2. What is your initial decision? Think about what your first reaction to a decision would be. Write it down and state the reasoning that goes with that choice.  Now you have something to reflect on!
  3. What facts do you have for making this decision?  List facts that are assisting you in making the decision.  Fact: The school principal sent out a newsletter stating the new cleaning policy that will take place in the school.  The school is making an effort to sanitize.
  4. Are you making this decision based on facts or feelings?  Feelings come and go.  Sometimes feelings last less than 24 hours.  If you are basing an important decision on feeling, I often recommend waiting 12 to 24 hours before taking action if possible.  Your feelings may change.
  5. Are there other perceptions of the same situation?  We all approach problems and/or life situations with our own past experiences (good and bad).  These experiences influence our decision making process. When we are making a decision that may affect others it is often good to consider the perceptions of others that may differ from our own. 
  6. What are the possible consequences?  Thinking about all the possible feasible consequences of your decision is often helpful.  Even if I have to make a decision that may not be popular or may have negative consequences in another aspect of my life, knowing what the consequences could be can help me prepare to deal with the outcome.

Many of my clients come to therapy seeking someone to make the hard decisions for them.  I often have to disappoint them within the first session and inform them that therapy is not about someone making the decisions for you.  Therapy is about someone helping you explore the decision making process so you can make the decision that is best for your own life.  Having someone who brings an unbiased point of view to your circumstance and is trained in the decision making process can be extremely helpful.  If you are struggling to make a difficult decision, seeking professional help may be the key to bringing clarity to a situation.  Licensed professional counselors, social workers, and psychologists are all equipped to assist with these difficult times in life.  You don’t have to go it alone.

 

I’d love to hear how the decision making process went for you if you tried it out.  Please feel free to contact me at transformationcc10@gmail.com or on Instagram @transformcc10.

Email: transformationcc10@gmail.com

Phone: (919) 306-2579

Nicole is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with over 20 years experience helping adults and children with overcoming trauma, managing life transitions, and developing coping skills. She is specialized in working with anxiety, depression, trauma, life transitions, and developing effective parenting skills with women and children with trauma concerns, anxiety and depression. Nicole provides a caring, non-judgmental mental health service for children (5-12), adolescents (13-18), and adults (18+) where she draws techniques from a variety of therapy models depending on the client’s needs. Nicole most often uses Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Client Centered treatment the most. Nicole owns a private practice called Transformation Counseling and Consulting PLLC.

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