Decisions. Decisions. Love them or hate them decisions are a big part of our military life aren’t they? The older I get I’m beginning to realize that the decision making process is truly an art form. It’s not the act of just saying yes or no to something, it’s about learning to feel good about the decisions you make that’s challenging. The hardest part of the entire decision making process for me is that moment after I make a choice I start to wonder if it was actually the right one. I often second guess myself and look to others to validate my choice. The decision doesn’t have to be a big one, in fact many of them aren’t, but the second guessing and uncertainty have always been a part of the entire decision making process.
Whether it was choosing what to order at our favorite restaurant, where best to focus my time and energy in my business or deciding the best way to handle an unexpected decision I’ve never been able to take comfort in the idea that there wasn’t a better alternative. Until now. I’ve found that by consciously moving through some simple steps as I make a decision, I’m less likely to regret my choice in the long run and I no longer am looking for validation from others. Here is a simple decision making process that you might find helpful, it not only makes it easier to make better decisions but it allows me to do so in a shorter amount of time.
A Simple 4 Step Process for Making a Decision in Military Life
- Step 1: Clearly identify and understand the decision you will be making. When faced with a decision to make it is important that you know exactly what it is you are deciding. When making choices it is easy to spin of and lose focus, making the process a lot more painful. The best way to make things easier is to clearly understand the decision that is before you, identify your options, and forget about the opinions of others. Remember you are the only one who has to live with the consequences of any decision that you make so don’t let someone else decide for you!
- Step 2: Gather your information & data. The only way to make a choice AND feel good about it is to know exactly what it is you are getting into and gathering relevant information is critical. Spend some time collecting all the information you need, dig deep for the details and then sort thru all of your options. The more data you have on your choices and how they will affect your life short and long term, the better equipped you will be to move onto step 3.
- Step 3: Make the decision. For many of us this is the hardest part of the entire decision process. It’s the time when all the self-doubt and second guessing take hold and it can be paralyzing. But here is a little secret, actually choosing “what’s next” is the only way to stop the spiraling thoughts so you can move forward. Trust me, if you’ve done steps 1 & 2 you are fully prepared and ready to take the plunge and more than likely you know the right and perfect choice for your life in this particular moment. So make the decision knowing full well that it won’t be your last.
- Step 4: Move on. Once a decision is made it is important that you don’t waste anymore time wondering what other choice you could have or should have made. Not every decision will be the right one, but you can always come back to it. Allow yourself to move on by accepting that the choice you make was the right one in that moment.
Direction Bonus (Here is some advice from some pretty awesome Mil-bloggers – be sure to check out their sites)
When asked how these bloggers make choices (in small business or in life)
here is what they shared:
- “For me, the key to effective (and regret free) decision making lies in understanding my priorities. How a given choice will affect my most important priorities – my family, my health, and my person goals – is the starting point of any consideration. That offers me a rubric to evaluate my options through both their short and long term impact”. ~ Kristen Smith (If The Saddle Fits)
- “Realize that very few decisions are final. We all have the ability, and should give ourselves permission, to change direction and change our minds after a decision has been made. I change my mind on decisions, even though I do try not to make everyone crazy in the process, frequently. There is nothing more maddening to me than sticking to a “decision” that is no longer right JUST because it was decided”. ~ ErinWhitehead (Many Kind Regards)
- “I look at the risk of “what if?” I don’t like looking back and wondering “what if?” when it comes to a situation so I try to avoid that outcome. Sometimes it’s worth taking a risk just to avoid asking myself what if later”! ~ Pamela Michelle (The Coastie Couple)
- “I think about what it will look like when I look back on it. Will I feel the sacrifice was worth what was gained? For example, we are making a decision regarding the sale of our house and our move. When I look back, will I feel a year apart was worth the money we potentially keep from the sale, or will I think taking the loss was worth keeping the family together as long as I could? After that, I give myself grace. In hindsight might not seem like I made the right choice, but I will always know I made the best choice I could with the information I had and that’s all I can ask of myself”. ~ Kim Mills (She Is Fierce)
- “The thing I have learned the hard way is while you can change at any time, make sure you are changing or altering for the right reasons. Some of the most beneficial and amazing accomplishments have had some of the hardest singular moments and most difficult seasons of life. Had we given up when the going got tough we would not have reaped the amazing benefits”. Elizabeth Colegrove (The Reluctant Landlord)
- “I always think of how a decision that affects my current decision will translate into my plan for my future. Ex: does getting a tattoo on my forehead today work well for my interest in pursuing politics later?” ~ Katie Foley (Many Kind Regards)
- “I approach blogging decisions with my brand in mind. Will it advance my brand towards its goals? Will it respect and honour my brand’s guidelines? Will I damage my brand? You can’t easily undo damage done to your brand, so I try to make the best decisions possible with those questions in mind. This can lead to second guessing myself a lot, so instead I tell myself that I’ll learn from my decisions after the fact. To avoid flip flopping and potentially doing more harm, once a decision is made I stick to it. It’s hard not to second myself, but I can do more damage flip flopping than just fixing it once it’s done” ~ Ariel Garneau (PMQ for Two)
- “I weigh how many positives versus negatives. Every action should give me 3 positive benefits to 1 potentially negative. If it won’t outweigh like this then I don’t do it” ~ Rachel Brenke (Rachel Brenke)
- One way I stop second-guessing myself is by not holding perfectionist expectations over myself. If I’m afraid of how something might turn out, I try to say, “I made the best decision I could. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll make improvements on it for next time.” I try not to beat myself up over it. ~ Heather Goffrier (Happy Fit Navy Wife)
What advice can you add? Share it in the comments below!
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com