September 17


How to Make (and not make) Big Decisions

By Staff Writer

decision making

Many of us find decisions to be difficult to make – my whole family is that way! But whether you have difficulty making up your mind or not, there can be a lot of consequences when making BIG decisions, so you want to be sure you are making them wisely, right? It can be easy at times, when everything is in alignment (brain, heart, gut) but it often doesn’t work out that way.

Hannah Braime suggests that one strategy to making decisions when you don’t feel in alignment is to distance yourself from the situation by being your own coach. (5 Important questions to ask yourself when making big decisions).

One way is to check in with your long-term goals to see if what you are about to do will help or hinder you in reaching your goals. If it takes you away from this path, you may want to rethink it by asking yourself why you want to pursue it.

Look for alternatives besides what is on the table that you may not have thought of so far. Sometimes your focus is too narrow, and by bringing in more possibilities you may find something that will fit in with your goals and move forward in the current context.

Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach. -Tony Robbins

Asking yourself these questions seems like a good idea, and a strategy that could really help get the ball rolling, but there are other factors influencing your decision that you should be aware of. Your physical surroundings play a bigger role than most of us realize, and you may want to take this into consideration during your decision-making. Here are some examples, all backed up by research (get more background on

1. Weight of an object. When interviewers held a heavy clipboard during the interview process, they thought the candidate “had some weight or substance.”  If they held a light clipboard, the prospect was seen as being less worthy of the position. So be careful what you may be holding at the time your decision is made!

2. How rested you are. People that are really tired are much more likely to be overly optimistic and take risks – which is why the casino wants you to stay up REALLY late at the tables!

3. How many decisions you have already made that day. Judges were found to tire of making decisions as the day went on, and by the end of the day taking the easy choice – not a good time to be a parolee wanting to be released. For you, don’t stack your big decision after a bunch of other, less important decisions.

4. Whether you are sexually aroused. In the words of Robin Williams:  “God gave men both a penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time.”  Enough said.

5. If your bladder is full. Surprisingly, in a study out of the Netherlands, people who were struggling to control their bladder after several glasses of water were more likely to make rational, long-term decisions.

So get a good nights sleep, get up and drink a lot of water, wait 30 minutes, be sure you are not holding anything that might influence your decision, don’t think about sex, and start asking yourself clarifying questions!

About the author

Our staff writers come from various backgrounds in the neuroscience, personal development, brain science and psychology fields. Many started out as with us as contributors!

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