Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 17:09
This is the reply I sent to someone who wrote to me saying they had a problem with making even simple decisions:
Making decisions is a behaviour which can be learned, just like any other behaviour. You can train yourself to make big decisions by practising making small decisions.
Before you do that, a couple of principles:
1. There are no right or wrong decisions, only decisions with different consequences. You need to train yourself to stop looking for the perfect decision. Instead your attitude needs to be that you take decisions and deal with the consequences.
2. Doing nothing is a decision in itself. You need to train yourself to think that the choice is not between A and B, but between A, B and C where C is doing nothing.
So train yourself starting with small things. For example, what are you going to eat for supper tonight? Remember the choice is between a) having something for supper and b) having nothing for supper. How are you going to decide which to have? I suggest you flip a coin. That helps you to realise 1) there is no “correct” choice; 2) that doing nothing is a choice like any other and has consequences like any other.
If the “something for supper” choice comes up, then how do you decide what to eat? Again I suggest you decide entirely at random. Flip a coin, throw dice, whatever. What you are training yourself in here is again that there is no “correct” choice.
When you’ve got used to making simple decisions at random, then you can try a slight variation on this. Flip a coin and stick with the answer unless you really want to overrule it. That helps you to identify your own preferences in the matter.
Remember, the aim of this is to practise making decisions. Like any practise it takes a lot of repetition before the behaviour becomes learned. So don’t just do it once or twice and then forget about it. Consciously look out for small decisions you can make during the day and do it often.