That Big Decision in Your Head? Stop Thinking about It.

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As you think about the week ahead and the coming months, you may have some big open issues in your life:

  • Is it time to look for a new job?
  • Can we afford to buy a new house?
  • Are the kids in the right schools?
  • Do I need to have the hard conversation with my parent (or child)?
  • Do I want to keep spending time with that person?

And there might be some on your team:

  • Is it time to fire the manager?
  • Should we change our marketing plan?
  • Do we need to start a new group to address this problem?
  • Are we using the right vendor?

Any one of these (or more to the point, the one that’s been on YOUR mind lately) could be a big deal. You might even feel guilty because you’ve been avoiding this issue and leaving it unresolved, and you feel like you should “get it settled.”

Maybe you should.

On the other hand, it might be better to leave it alone. Not forever, but for a period of time.

That was a decision we made. We decided that it wouldn’t be productive to constantly revisit our decision to move and evaluate the pros and cons of this area.


Strategic Avoidance

Our family moved to Ohio about a year ago. We knew we’d be here at least a few years, but we didn’t know if it would be a long-term home. The move was a major adjustment for all of us. It would have been easy to keep thinking, “Gosh, I wonder if this is really the place for us.” It might have been something that my wife and I talked about every day.

But we didn’t.  In fact, we didn’t talk about it at all… for a full year.

That was a decision we made. We decided that it wouldn’t be productive to constantly revisit our decision to move and evaluate the pros and cons of this area. We also knew we’d have more information after a year to inform our thinking.

Beyond that, we were able to better enjoy our life and more fully engage without the distraction of that pending decision. The question wasn’t gone; it remained unresolved. But we put it away for a while.

Saving Energy

Open questions require energy. The bigger or more emotional they are, the more energy they require. Urgent matters may not allow a pause, but many of our open questions are less than urgent.

Yet we let them float through our head, because we know we need to deal with them at some point.

It’s a bit like leaving the kitchen light on to remind yourself to clean the dishes. It wastes energy and isn’t especially productive. What if instead, you turned the light off and set a timer for an hour?

Your Decision Calendar

Take two minutes to identify some unresolved questions in your life and on your team.

Maybe there’s one that you can put in a box: for a year, for two months, or even for just a week. Take a specific action: add a calendar item to revisit the question at the right point in the future. Then commit: “I will NOT think about this until the scheduled time.”

You’ll have lower stress without the open issue. Even better, when you come back to the issue, you may have more perspective to make a better decision.

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