Back in my junior high school days, I went through a couple of the typical “puppy love” relationships. You know, those romantic and touching experiences that embed themselves in the memory for years to come. Most often these young and budding relationships never last long, usually ending over some extreme offense such as sitting with other friends during lunch rather than with your young love, but these experiences are very important and formative.
Since my youthful relationships were in the days before smartphones in which there is a constant presence of text messages and social media posting, my young suitors would always have to initiate the relationship by passing me a note that asked “Will you be my girlfriend? Yes or No.” My response was always the same, “Give me a few days to think about it.” After all, deciding which boy to walk down the hallway with between classes and sit next to at pep rallies was a major life decision for a 14 yr old. I always wanted to take my time and not rush into such an important life changing junior high school event.
I would always drag my decision out for about three or four days. During this time I would seek the counsel of my friends who had boyfriends, have long conversations on the phone with my potential “boyfriend-to-be” trying to negotiate the details of how it was supposed to work out and then I’d have to write my name and his name over and over again on a piece of paper to even see if it looked good together.
Although those young relationships never lasted a long time, the practice of taking my time and thinking things through has stuck with me throughout the years. I have proven to myself over and over again, that if I try to rush through the decision making process that many times I will leave myself open to invariably screwing something up along the way and suffer the consequences of being too hasty.
Life is a strange beast. Think of “life” as a person… a con-artist so to speak that likes to play mind games with you. Life will try to convince you that you have time when you don’t and then turn around the next day and tell you that you don’t have time when you actually do. If you are not tuned in to understanding the nuances and differences, life will ultimately have you living in a constant state of stress which will either have you drag your feet or on the other end, move to fast in fear of misstepping.
The key is learning when it’s time to slow down the decision making process. If you are on the operating table and the doctor says you need to decide right at that moment whether or not to have a life saving surgery to save your leg, then by all means you have to decide right at that moment with no dilly dallying.
On the other hand, many of our other life decisions give the impression that they need to be made immediately but it’s an illusion most often arising from the stress and pressure of being in a decision making scenario. We do ourselves a great disservice when we rush certain decisions. Sometimes we need to look at all the factors, weigh all the cost and benefits, and go back and do some additional research. It might be our relationships, where we decide to live, or if it’s best for us to take a job promotion.
When you are at the crossroads and need to make a decision, the steps that I took back in junior high school tend to be very effective. First and foremost, slow it down. Take a moment to pause. Yet, give yourself a deadline to make a decision. Hold yourself accountable and don’t let the issue float around indefinitely without you coming to some sort of actionable conclusion. Next, start researching so you can clarify your thoughts. Ask others who might have experience or knowledge in the area for their opinion. Go over all the details. Ask yourself how the decision will impact your present and your future. If you can test it out first or see samples of it somewhere, explore that as well.
After all of that, then make your decision.
I have full confidence that using these decision making techniques will prove invaluable (unless you are mulling over the choice of a junior high school boyfriend).