Do you feel stuck in any area of your life? Are you too scared to take the appropriate steps to advance your career, relationships, health, and wealth?
Do you want to start making successful choices that will continually move you in the direction of your dreams?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to assess your decision-making process. Understanding how the process works is essential to bypassing major obstacles along your path to success.
Recall the most difficult choice(s) you’ve faced in your adult life: Choosing a health-care plan, planning your wedding, leaving your job, starting your own business, figuring out how much you need to save for retirement.
Decision-making plays a major role in the way events unfold in our lives. But people don’t usually pay much attention to the profound effects of making decisions. Most of us move through life oblivious to what thoughts we’re thinking and what actions we’re taking.
However, the daily decisions we make, create our own personal reality. And our decisions shape who we are as individuals.
Most of us are programmed to make decisions based on fear, low self-esteem, and a lack of willpower.
So instead of making bold moves, we end up stuck in the comfort zone.
Luckily, it’s scientifically proven to be possible to reprogram your brain for higher levels of consciousness. So, if you’re dissatisfied with the way things are developing in your life right now, making a concerted effort to move out of the comfort zone—in order to make better decisions—will be the key to being the person you want to be and creating the life you want to have in the future.
When you make the effort to take control of your health, wealth, and lifestyle in a positive way, you activate four neurological processes, which co-author of Neuro Wisdom: The New Brain Science of Money, Happiness, and Success, Mark Waldman refers to as the “4 Pillars of Wealth.” Here they are:
- Motivation. When you become aware of what uniquely motivates you, you can consciously choose the activities that will bring the greatest success.
- Decision-making. Once you are motivated to acquire or do something, your brain activates circuits in the frontal lobes to start making decisions. This process can be disrupted by stress, worry, and doubt. But you can train your mind to stay focused, confident, and optimistic.
- Creativity. Using the powers of your creative imagination, you will solve problems more quickly and increase your productivity.
- Awareness. The process of mindful self-reflection can enhance self-awareness, social awareness, and spiritual awareness, giving your life more meaning and purpose. You will also stimulate your brain’s circuitry for empathy, compassion, and morality.
Each of the above four pillars is essential for goal achievement and success. And if you neglect any of them, you’ll likely limit your ability to build both inner and outer wealth.
Let’s continue to focus on the second pillar of the four pillars: decision-making. Here are eight steps to help you make better decisions.
1. Use both sides of your brain.
What is the first step in the decision-making process? Well, when making a big decision, feel empowered to use both sides of your brain (instead of just your logical, left side). It’s important to find the balance between emotion and reason.
The right brain, our emotional intelligence, is intrinsically linked to our behavior . . . and the important decisions we make throughout our lifetime. ~ CLICK TO TWEET ~
Both your decision-making and idea generating processes start in your left prefrontal cortex, and if there isn’t enough emotion behind these processes, the part of your brain called the nucleus accumbens (NAc) doesn’t activate. If the NAc isn’t activated, dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitter that recognizes reward) won’t be released into your body, and you’ll likely remain unmotivated back in your comfort zone. And decisions made from the comfort zone rarely end up benefiting you in the long run.
2. Visualize your future, successful self.
If you want to know how to make successful decisions, take a moment to think about what success means to you. How do you define personal success? Write your answer down in a journal or on a piece of paper.
Next, visualize your ideal, future self. Do this by getting into a relaxed position, close your eyes, and allow your mind wander into a daydream.
What do you see and feel? Are you beaming with energy? Do you have a healthy glow about you? Are you in the best shape ever? Are you in love? Do you have a supportive community and a fun circle of friends?Are you financially independent? Do you get along well with your business partners, colleagues, and employees? Take notes, if you’d like.
Creative visualization is an important technique for those of us on the path of great success. When you have a positive mental image . . . and see yourself as a successful person, you begin to believe you’re capable of perfect health, happiness, and wealth. Seeing is believing, right? And you must believe in order to achieve.
3. Recognize the power behind each decision you make.
Before you make a decision, you have to understand the effects of your choice. Any decision that you make causes a chain of events to happen.
For example, if a company you’d love to work requires you do a presentation for key stakeholders before you’re hired . . . and you decide not to go through with it because you have a fear of public speaking, that decision might result in you missing out on an opportunity to have your own multi-million dollar company in the future.
In this case, it all boils down to first making the decision to overcome your fear of public speaking, so you can do what you love and be financially independent for the rest of your life.
4. Go with your gut.
When you find yourself wavering between multiple options, your intuition is one of your most powerful decision-making tools. To hone in on your gut feeling, stop for a moment and don’t think about the pros and cons . . . simply sit in a quiet place and notice what feelings come to the surface.
Do you feel tight in the chest area? Or an open lightness in your heart? Do you feel relief? Excitement? What other physical sensations do you feel?
Research shows that our instincts often first hit us on a visceral level, telling us what we need to know well before our consciousness catches up. Neuroscientist, and one of the world’s leading authorities on human consciousness, Dr. Joel Pearson, recently discovered that intuition does in fact exist.
Pearson and his research team have demonstrated that unconscious emotions improve the speed and accuracy of decision-making—a discovery that could prove important for investigations into how conscious and unconscious information combine to shape and influence behaviors.
When making big decisions, you’ve got to tune into your inner wisdom. The best ancient advice for figuring out what you truly want is to look within.
So before making any major moves, take some time to explore that “funny” feeling. You’ve most likely had a hunch before; an inkling that steered you in the right direction? That’s your sixth sense communicating with you. Pay attention to it.
Be still and know.
5. Don’t ask other people what you should do.
You don’t have to ask people what they think. It makes it even more difficult to make a decision when you are caught up in other people’s opinions about what’s best for you.
If you ask 4 people what they think you should do, you will most likely get 4 different rants of advice. And the feedback will likely lead to confusion and second guessing.
Feel free to consult the people who will be directly affected by your decision . . . and then confidently let everyone know what you’ve decided.
6. Ask yourself the right questions.
Once you know how you feel about the decision, it’s time to ask your brain the right questions: What do I want in this lifetime? Will the outcome of my decision move me closer to what I truly want? Does the benefit outweigh the cost? Is the level of risk worth the reward? How committed am I to this change?
As Dr. David Welch, professor of political science at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and author of Decisions, Decisions: The Art of Effective Decision Making, explains, “People who aren’t self-reflective are going to end up making bad decisions because they don’t really know what they want in the first place.”
Before you tie the knot, ask yourself: Do I really want to marry this person? Or do I just want to be married with kids someday?
7. Align your life with your core values.
Decisions you make based on your core values create motivational alignment. So make your decisions based on whether or not they align with your highest values, passions, and priorities, or it’s not going to feel like you made the right choice.
Before you can figure out if the decision is united with the things that mean the most to you, you first need to get clear about what those values are. Make a written list of your highest values. And once you’re clear, make a list of all the ways your choice aligns (or doesn’t align) with those values.
8. Whatever you decide to do, have grit and gusto.
Have you ever met a gritty person you didn’t like? Even if you have, weren’t you somewhat in awe of their drive to succeed?
When it comes to taking action in your life, you’ve got to have a strong backbone. So before you start your own business, make sure you’re doing something that motivates you to persevere (despite failure).