23 June 2009, by A. Cedilla
With so much going on in our lives today, we have a tendency to drown in the multitude of choices available to us — from what to study to improve ourselves, and what course to take to maximize our efforts, to what tools, resources and systems to tap so we can go after what we want.
We often find ourselves in the well-known state of “paralysis by analysis”, which can leave us stuck in one place, emotionally, physically or mentally, unable to move until we know all our options.
Unfortunately, getting all the information we need to make a decision is a part of the decision-making process that can take an unnecessarily long time, since there is so much information available out there. After that, the part that can give us the most trouble is actually deciding.
To make a good choice for yourself, you have to keep in mind your Big Picture, and the parts that compose it. Then you need to distinguish between what you want and what you want to have.
How do you take the stress out of picking between two or more equally tempting options?
The quick and dirty way: Rank them from to most to least urgent, then lop off the rest to leave the top two choices. This action, in essence, gives you one choice: By picking one, the other option is automatically turned down.
You pulled an all-nighter and feel entirely justified in sleeping in.
You also want to have a healthy body.
You have to choose: sleep-in or exercise?
Your knee-jerk virtuous reaction would be, cancel the sleep-in and carry over the exercise.
This is the sort of math mothers practiced when we were young. Half-hour of cartoons, or half-hour of homework? Applying mommy-math, you cancel the cartoons, and carry over the home work.
If you learned about this mommy-math fast, you began to finish your homework before the cartoons start.
Now, depending on your actual long-term priorities, you can use a different sort of math to decide your course of action.
(Honestly though, if you’ve been pulling all-nighters far more in excess of what you’re willing to bear, there’s either a) something wrong with your scheduling, prioritization and resource allocation, or b) you’re avoiding something bigger and may be hiding behind the overtime. In both cases, you have to do you homework on what you really want to achieve.)
Decide: What is it you want, and what is it you want to have?
You need to identify which is which, and then decide by holding up the choices against what you’re trying to accomplish in the short-term and in the long run.
And you also have to accept the results of the choice you make. These results should be something you’ll be comfortable with and can accept. This is the balance you can add to your life.
And so, depending on your circumstances, your choice can also rearrange the priorities and options not directly related to your primary issue (which in our example is whether to sleep or to exercise).
If you choose to sleep in, you can arrange things so that afterward, your schedule can allow more leeway in dealing with your workload (no more late nights), or re-prioritizing aspects of it
You can put the hardest, most labor-intensive parts first, or you can chop it up into smaller, more manageable chunks of work you can spread out over a scheduled measure of time.
You can also schedule it so you can make exercise a more accessible part of your life by removing the obstacles to making it happen.
Remember, deciding between sleep and exercise is just an example.
Keep practicing your decision-making skills, know your priorities, and learn to distinguish between what you want and what you want to have. Consistent, conscious choice will always help in getting you balanced and on track.
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