7 steps to decision-making clarity

ūü§∑‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ Why do people get stuck when making a decision?

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Photo by timJ on Unsplash

That’s a really good question, and there may be many answers to it! This is why I find it helpful to take a systematic and structured approach to the decision-making thought process. At every stage self-awareness is as necessary as the content that surfaces when thinking through a decision. Many obstacles and hindrances to decision-making often and subtly surface up into the light but can then be excused by the irrational self. In these moments, it can be a challenge to have clear perception.

Whether you are making a life-changing decision about your relationships, your career, your life goals yourself or your wellbeing, here is my 7 step personal decision-making approach for clarity. I hope it will save you time, stress and ultimately heartache, when trying think through your decision!

 

Step 1: Define your situation

This is where it begins!

The more self-knowledgeable you are, the faster you will pass through this stage. Here, you’ll get to weigh up the significance of this decision you’re making against who you are, what you stand for, where you’re heading, and decide whether this decision needs to be taken now.

If you are a person of faith, then you will also want to bring God into this entire journey.

Self-Coaching questions for step 1

What is/are… [aka Define]:

  • the significance of this decision?
  • your needs?
  • your priorities?
  • your wants?
  • your vision, mission & values?
  • the implications if you do not make a decision about this?
  • the ideal decision?
  • the timing of your decision?

 

Step 2: Clarify what you’re making a decision about

Clarifying what the driving and resisting forces of this decision are, what is influencing the decision and how much power those influences have over you and your decision, as well as gaining insight into your decision-making strengths and weaknesses will help clarify what your decision is really about.

Self-Coaching questions for step 2

Clarify:

  • how does this decision align with your values?
  • how does this decision align with your goals & vision?
  • how does this decision align with your purpose & mission?
  • what are your decision-making strengths and weaknesses?
  • what are the driving forces in your decision?
  • what are the resisting forces in your decision?
  • what are the influencing factors in your decision?
  • what gaps are there in your knowledge, skills, competencies and experience re this decision?
  • who is/are influencing this decision?

 

Step 3: Identify outcomes of your decision

This activity will help you to separate what are assumed, and what are certain outcomes of your decision. Broken down into short, medium and long term outcomes, this step will help you to reflect on your emotional and psychological commitment to those outcomes.

You’ll also gain some insight into your change readiness.

Self-Coaching questions for step 3

Identify the short, medium and long term outcomes with:

  • what will this decisions’ impact be on your physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological health?
  • how will it affect the people directly involved in your life?
  • what it will mean for the regular routine you live by or your daily activities?
  • what are the material considerations of your outcomes (e.g. possessions & value of them)?
  • what are the financial considerations of your outcomes (e.g. regular income, savings, investments, retirement)?
  • what are the career & job considerations of your outcomes?

 

Step 4: Consider the options, alternatives, consequences & opportunities of the decision

Here is where you identify all the risks in your decision, as well as the impact of this decision to your and others before actually committing to it.

Self-Coaching questions for step 4

Consider:

  • what are the pros and cons?
  • what are the risks? How to mitigate them?
  • what are the positive and negative impacts?
  • where can opportunities be found?
  • how will it cost you in time & personal resources?
  • what sacrifices will be required?
  • what would you ideal choice be if you had to choose?

 

Step 5: Understand any emotions behind your decision

Your heart is greatly influenced by your past experiences, your desires, your passions, your pains, your personality, and a myriad of other factors and qualities.

Here is an opportunity to check the balance between your emotions and your rationale, moving forward without looking back in regret.

Self-Coaching questions for step 4

Understand:

  • what pressures may this decision be feeding on?
  • what needs may this decision be feeding on?
  • how can I be more balanced (head vs heart)?
  • what emotions are influencing here?
  • what are my fears?
  • where might I be experiencing limiting beliefs?
  • how will my feelings change after this decision?
  • how are my past experiences influencing my emotions & feelings?
  • when am I likely to change my mind because of others’ feelings?

 

Step 6: Capture other viewpoints & objective opinions

There is GREAT VALUE in seeking counsel.

Seek the opinion of those:

  • immediately involved in this decision
  • indirectly involved in this decision
  • experienced in this area
  • whose wisdom you appreciate & respect
  • in the ‘helping’ professions

Self-Coaching questions for step 6

Capture:

  • what do the people most involved in this decision have to say?
  • what do people indirectly involved in this decision have to say?
  • what do people with experience of this decision have to say?
  • what do people whose wisdom you appreciate and respect have to say?
  • what do professionals from the ‘helping’ professions have to say?

 

Step 7: Prepare & commit yourself to your decision

Often, limiting beliefs and self-sabotage about a decision happen before the very moment of committing to a decision. This is unlikely to happen if you’ve gone through the previous 6 steps to decision-making clarity. You will know what actions are needed to move forward confidently and courageously.

Self-Coaching questions for step 7

Prepare & Commit:

  • what are my critical activities moving forward?
  • what personal preferences do I have?
  • how can I exercise greater freedom of heart?
  • where do I need to exercise more resilience?
  • where do I need to exercise more courage?
  • what are my coping strategies?
  • how often should I review my progress and approach?
  • what does my task list look like?

 


Need an objective opinion to walk through the above with?

Depending on your situation (particularly the time limitation) and the gravity of the decision you have to make, you may be interested in an intensive breakthrough coaching session to get to decision-making clarity quickly, and for putting a sketch plan in place.

Intensive Breakthrough Coaching Session for decision-making clarity (2.5 hrs)

What is included in your session?

  • Initial email outlining your preparation for the session
  • Any relevant tools or materials required for activities in your session
  • Face to face to face session in West London OR video meeting call (prices vary by location & added onto base price. Video meetings via Zoom are no extra cost.)
  • Follow up email with reflections from the session and suggested actions

 Your investment

My intensive breakthrough coaching session is great value at a base price of £325. For this amount you will gain:

  • peace of mind and of heart that you have made the most informed and thought-through decision you could possibly have made
  • clarity on 99.9% of elements, factors, influences and options worth considering
  • an impeccably designed set of action points / plan to make any changes smoothly based on who you are and where you’re heading
  • greater knowledge of your blindspots and choke points, with an increased desire to manage those
  • confidence because you’ll have cleared mental and emotional obstacles preventing you from moving forward
  • enhanced or maintained good quality relationships (personal or professional)
  • holistic & well-balanced perspective, energy and momentum
  • avoidance of more time and money spent down the line from a decision that ultimately cost you more than you could afford
  • relief from stress and heartache that would have been an outcome of a poorly-made decision

Dear leader, use positive assertiveness at all times. When necessary, use ‘no’.

When I was 13 years old, I went on a retreat. At the start of the retreat, we were put into the same group and had to remain in that same group throughout. In our final group exercise, we had to come together with our group leaders. One person would be asked to leave the room so that the rest of the group could pick an animal that he or she could be compared with, and to explain why. Believe it or not, I still use this as a team-building exercise for already existing teams if I deem the individuals in the team to be mature enough to see the analogousness of it, because I appreciated what it did for my confidence and for my trust in my little group. It’s surprisingly effective! When it came time for me to be compared with an animal, I was not expecting the comparison I received! I was compared to a nightingale. The group listed many reasons for the comparison, but the one word that really stood out for me was ‘optimistic’. In some mystical way, that word has shaped my life; my beliefs, my attitudes, my behaviour. Until I first entered the corporate world, I was as liberated in my ‘yes-ness’ and optimism as I was in my creativity. And then… I learned all about risk.

About positive assertive communication and the ‘NO’

What has this story got to do with positive assertiveness or saying ‘no’? Let us first establish what they are. Assertive Communication¬†is a style of communication in which a person stands up for and respects their own needs and wants, whilst also taking into consideration the needs and wants of others, without behaving passively or aggressively. Positive Assertive Communication¬†is about framing your thinking in a way that inspires a movement of love in your heart – so that your ‘no’ doesn’t close you off, but opens and frees you up to something (or someone) else! When you look at all the definitions on the web for the word NO, you’ll find the key word that stands out is negative (e.g. a negative vote or decision; an act or instance of refusing or denying… etc). These acts essentially block and close up – not just the other person, but yourself as well. As a natural ‘yes’ person, I have had to learn how and more importantly when to say ‘no’. We find ‘no’ more so in the corporate sector than in the charity sector, where there is naturally more generosity and spirit to serve within the organisational culture, and desire to make a difference.

Positive assertiveness is now something that more and more people are looking to assimilate into their personal and working lives. That’s why I am launching my first positive assertiveness & boundary setting workshop on Saturday 27th June 2020 at 3pm on Zoom. It will be an interactive opportunity to explore practical ways of positive assertiveness, as well as the ‘why’ for it all. The purpose of this blog is to speak a little more about the ‘no’ in relation to leadership, and when it is necessary to use it. This is where I say: Dear leader, use positive assertiveness at all times. When necessary, use ‘no’.

When is it appropriate to use ‘no’, then?

The leadership styles (I won’t go into leadership or management styles in this blog post) in which we would most frequently see ‘no’ is in the authoritative and bureaucratic styles of leadership. The best leaders in the world know how to use all 5 styles of leadership to suit the situation and the people, and have nailed their communication styles in order to implement the best courses of action in their team. Of course, this isn’t a step-by-step formula that leaders learn. They learned this through experience and decent self-knowledge! In management training, managers identify the two most common ‘no’ styles of management in the ‘tell’ or ‘sell’ management styles. Again, the best managers in the world master all 5 styles of management to suit the situation and the stakeholders involved. So when ought the ‘no’ come into ones leadership or management? Here are 3 key moments when the invitation of positive assertiveness needs to be put aside and a ‘no’ steps up:

  1. When there is a high risk of danger or severe hurt to yourself or to others. So many people knock health and safety. But guys, it’s a no-brainer. This shouldn’t be classed as a ‘duty of care’ exercise at all. It should be built into our intrinsic nature to care for and protect each other from danger or hurt for the due reason that we are human beings. When I’m driving on the road, I seriously appreciate ‘no’ signage – because it’s a prevention and deterrent to me putting myself in danger. This ‘no’ is a crisis prevention or crisis management measure. If a leader/manager sees a catastrophe or a crisis impending (i.e. it will happen, and it’s not speculative), they will rightly start putting on the breaks. What’s important here is that the good leader/manager will brief their team, ensuring that the team are fully communicated with and feel a part of the crisis prevention.
  2. When positive assertiveness has been exhausted. I get it. Sometimes, there is only so much positive assertiveness that can be applied until a ‘no’ must kick in. Someone who has set a boundary and now needs to make sure the other person understands and respects that boundary must do so by communicating that with them. My workshop explores how to do that positively in more detail. But what happens if the recipient isn’t responding as you would like to the positive assertiveness? There are two further courses of action. The first course could be to use a slightly more aggressive assertiveness. At no stage should the assertiveness be passive. One ought always to be aware of and sensitised to their impact on the other person. To be passive assertive is to allow oneself to be indifferent to their impact on the other. This is neither caring nor emotionally intelligent! Slightly aggressive assertiveness pushes on the firmest edge of ‘firm’ and the most uncomfortable end of ‘comfort’. The second course could be to put in the strict ‘no’. Just remember two main things if this option is the last recourse to action: a) The ‘no’ must come from a place of goodwill for others and the main people involved, not from an abuse of manipulation, control and/or power, and; b) it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. It’s worth thinking how the other person would best respond before jumping into this last resort.
  3. Compliance. We touched on this briefly with health and safety in point 1. When it comes to compliance, there is no airy-fairy way of ensuring legislation is complied with, unless there is clarity on the boundary. These sets of rules are not optional. Most people will see the benefit of the rules quite naturally, but some people do like to consider themselves as ‘rule-breakers’, and get a kick out of pushing their limits. At some point, the ‘no’ kicks in here. If you are a parent, this balance is one you will already be familiar with. The only difference is that you’re not parenting a toddler, but managing/leading grown ups. Having said that, some of the best leaders and managers in the world are looked up to as ‘father-figures’ and ‘mother-figures’, and there is something very beautiful and life-giving about that.

Risk management plays a big part in the ‘no’ word or action. Good leaders and managers have superhero risk mitigation and management skills – either learned through study, experience or naturally developed whilst growing up. It is for this reason that ‘no’ can and should be used, when necessary.

What if I’m the person used to being told ‘no’, and it really gets to me?

Flip the other side of the coin… if you are the recipient of the ‘no’, then the method I use to give the other person the benefit of the doubt as to whether his/her ‘no’ was personal (on either side) or not, is to think about all the risks that the ‘no’ was preventing. Undertaking this small analysis tells you much more about the priorities of the leader and any underlying issues than most outward communication from the leader would. That is, unless your leader or manager is very open and very honest (I appreciate these leaders very much!). The reason why I brought up the ‘no’ as a personal affront or defence, is because in some cases, a manager might feel threatened in some way by their direct report, and so they develop a habit of saying ‘no’ to their direct report; even if the direct report’s suggestion or action is actually good for the team and the organisational mission. This is personal. On the other extreme, the direct report is constantly being told ‘no’ without any clear business justification. This is likely to be personal. A key example of this latter one would be racism or any other form of discrimination in a team. If any of these are you, then I recommend coaching to address those issues and to help you make the right decisions for yourself moving forward.

 


I’m Claz, a Professional Career Coach based in West London, accredited in the UK. I am also a Life & Wellbeing Coach, working with individuals as well as organisations.¬†You can contact me through my website¬†www.touchofclarity.com. Sign up to my first positive assertiveness & boundary-setting workshop on Saturday 27th June 2020 at 15:00 on Zoom to learn more about the fundamentals alluded to in this post.

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On Envy (& Jealousy) – Part I

Over the past two weeks, two people have approached me about experiences they are having concerning jealousy. One person has told me that she is jealous of a friend. The other has told me that her friend is jealous of her. There are 3 points that I want to pick up on this:

The difference between envy and jealousy

Envy¬†refers to a sadness at the sight of another’s perceived advantage. From the Latin invidia, meaning “to look against the affairs of others hostilely”, envy breeds resentment and turmoil eventually¬†leading to begrudging the other, to selfishness and to implicit covetousness if it is not remedied.

Jealousy wants to vigilantly guard what one possesses (or wants to possess) and to keep others from having it. The etymology for this word brings up “zealous (which means a fiery kind of fervent),¬†enthusiasm, and longing”.

Jealousy in its rightful and balanced form, isn’t a bad thing. A prime example of this is a marriage. It is right that a husband or wife vigilantly guard the marriage (the person possesses the grace & mission of marriage, but does NOT possess the person who is the spouse **very important**). What often goes wrong in jealousy is when that husband or wife forces the action of guarding beyond the point of vigilance into an extremity of paranoia, and knowingly or unknowingly interchanges guardianship of the sacrament of their marriage into a possession of their spouse. A human being is not the possession of another human being, and should never become one. This will lead to enslavement, objectification and imprisonment in both parties. The human being rightfully belongs only to God, but they have to want to choose that for themselves.

As mentioned, jealousy in its rightful and balanced form can be considered quite a healthy thing. However, envy, in any form is not a healthy thing. At all. Nothing about envy can be good for you, or for the other. Unfortunately, what many people don’t really realise, is that envy is beyond the human dimension. Envy is of a spiritual nature. So if someone is envious of another, there is no cure for this except by spiritual means. Envy employs your emotional, psychological and social (psychosocial) faculties, but the issue of the envy one experiences is not emotional or psychological or social at its very root. In other words, your thoughts, feelings and relational capacities are not the fundamental cause of the envy. We can then deduce that envy is not of human nature. However, the nature of envy can become manifest in anything human. This leads to the thoughts, feelings and relational circumstances where we would experience envy, which then of course fuel our decisions, choices and consequently our actions.

This highlights how the spiritual becomes manifest in the human being. There is a journey there, that envy takes, to infiltrate a person’s spiritual faculties, which they will feel the breadcrumbs of in their soul. And it’s here in the soul that envy will do most damage, depending on the person’s response to it. However, unless you are an extremely spiritual person, do some sort of reflection and recollection on yourself at the end of everyday through prayer and are conscious about where your moral compass is pointing at any one time, then it is very difficult to spot your own envy in yourself. It’s often either pointed out to you, or you notice the effects of the envy, by your own feelings, thoughts, choices, actions, and consequences of those actions.

So whilst jealousy may be taken out of its correct context and would still need addressing, the priority for me, would be to address envy. You’ve probably heard of something called the seven deadly sins? Well… envy kills you. And if you’re a spiritual person, it will kill your relationship with God. My primary concern for souls would be to address this – but it can’t be done on a purely human level. It requires spiritual work that combines your efforts, with that of divine help. There are 3 steps I would recommend to take:

  1. Identify if you are envious, or jealous, or none of the above! Be honest, try to be objective when thinking about it and put your pride to the side during this task. I’ve put some questions below to help you discover if you are or not.
  2. Increase your spiritual capacities. You will need them to remedy your envy.
  3. Remedy the envy. This will take a lot of time, often a lot of painfulness, past hurts may come to the surface. The key to this is perseverance, and keep up your spiritual practice. I will write a blogpost on the remedy at a later date, but for your information, the 3 things necessary to remedying envy are:
    1. Detachment
    2. Deep generosity
    3. Humility

So to help anyone who is perhaps experiencing envy, or knows somebody else who is, here is step 1 of my recommendation:

 

How do I know if I’m being envious?

Here are questions I would ask myself to determine if I’m being envious. Remember, be honest, try to be objective when thinking about it and put your pride to the side during this task. Answer these questions with a candle lit safely by your side, in a quiet place and time that is today’s ‘me-time’.

  1. Is there something someone else has/doesn’t have/is/isn’t, that I have/don’t have/that I am/am not, which hurts me or which I can’t bear?
  2. What is it that hurts/upsets me?
  3. Where could that hurt/upset be coming from? (Reflect on your past, and do a lot of digging)
  4. How is it taking me away from my true self and living out my values?
  5. How is it affecting my productivity?
  6. Where has it affected my (personal/professional) relationships? What have those outcomes been? What have the impacts of the outcomes been?
  7. Which choices have I been making in my heart as a result of this?
  8. Where have those choices stopped me from growing, overcoming and practising virtue or character strengths?
  9. Where has this situation driven me to act irresponsibly, unfairly or irrationally?
  10. Which concrete actions that have I taken were influenced by this hurt/upset, if any?
  11. Could I survive without/with (without if your envy is because of a lack of; with if your envy is because there is too much of)? Could I excel without/with it?
  12. What would the situation look like if I were not envious?

Answering these questions should give some clarity as to whether there is envy going on in any particular situation – whether that’s in personal or professional life. Envy is extremely detrimental in the workplace. It breeds:

  • Deterioration in trust
  • Irrational conflicts
  • Lack of commitment & focus / Increase in distraction & fault-picking
  • Avoidance of accountability
  • Diversion from achieving end goals and results

Managers can observe attitudes and behaviours stemming from envy, and should pull staff up on it gently and in the right way, should it be causing dysfunctionality within teams or inhibiting progress and team excellence. When a personal matter affects an organisation’s productivity, then managers have a duty of care to their staff, and can offer support or help. Nobody deserves to work in a negatively charged environment – whether that’s implicit of explicit.

 

Keep an eye out on my next blogpost for part II, containing the remedies to envy.

 


Life Coach, Change Agent Management, Holistic Massage Therapy, Wellbeing, London, West,

I’m Claz, a Professional Career Coach based in West London, accredited in the UK. I am also a Life & Wellbeing Coach, working with individuals as well as organisations. ¬†You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com.