How to make holistic, quality decisions

In my last post I explored the ideas of personal risk intelligence and unlinking the quality of our risk taking from potential outcomes and instead linking it to the quality of the decision making behind a risk.

Many of the decisions we make happen automatically. Our brain is designed to relieve us of the burden of having to think too much about stuff we do every day. And thank goodness for it. What to do for dinner? What to wear to work? Go left or go right to get home? Can you imagine a day when each of those decisions required a full-scale seven-step process?

Direction Intersection Decision Option Chance ConceptThese same helpful patterns, shortcuts, and automatic connections that allow unconscious, efficient decision making to happen become a dangerous default trap when applied to decisions that carry more weight, more consequences, more opportunity, and more responsibility.

So what do you do when you have a such decision to make, have a lot riding on the decision, feel stuck or hesitant to decide, and sense that your usual way of
(un)thinking isn’t helping? Try a Whole Brain® Thinking approach by intentionally considering four Ps, each of which corresponds to one of the four thinking styles in the Whole Brain® Thinking Model : Proof, Possibility, People, and Process.

Think of a decision you’ve been considering. One that has you stuck or hesitant to move forward. Go ahead, bring it to the front of your mind. As you consider a decision, answer three to five questions from each area to improve your decision making in a holistic way. Don’t skip one of the ‘P’s now, that’ll defeat the purpose!

PROOF – Part of your Analytical thinking wants to gather data, analyze it, and use this as evidence or proof that the decision is sound. This type of thinking is very present focused and cuts right to chase.

  • What do I know?
  • What are the facts that inform the decision?
  • What specifically is the decision about?
  • What’s the bottom line?
  • What do I really want?
  • What won’t I be able to do if I make this decision?

POSSIBILITY – Another part of your thinking craves opportunity, potential, and possibility. This type of Experimental thinking is forward looking, future oriented, and big picture.

  • Why am I making this decision?
  • How does the decision connect to my values, priorities, and goals?
  • Have I considered other alternatives?
  • What might I be missing?
  • How does taking or avoiding risk inform this decision?
  • What opportunities will I create when I make this decision?

PEOPLE – Our thinking naturally connects to our emotional relationships with ourselves and with others. This type of Relational thinking is present focused and keeps those involved at the heart of the matter.

  • Who will be impacted by this decision?
  • How will this decision impact my relationships?
  • Whose support will I need to carry out this decision?
  • How will I (and others) be impacted emotionally?
  • How will I feel when I know I’ve made the right/wrong decision?
  • What is my gut telling me about the decision?

PROCESS – Our brain knows that we need to use our experience and lessons learned to inform a decision, craves stability and planning, but also gets impatient to implement. This type of Practical thinking is past-focused, relying heavily on precedent and prevention, but also wants to jump right in and implement.

  • How does my experience inform this current decision?
  • How have I handled similar decisions before? How did they turn out?
  • How is now different than when I made similar decisions before?
  • How will I go about carrying out this decision?
  • What might get in the way of carrying out the decision?
  • Once the decision is made, what plan or system do I need to set up to ensure I carry the decision out?

We’re naturally drawn to one or more ways of thinking; those are our preferences and dominances at work. The point of a Whole Brain® Thinking walk around is to intentionally give equal air time in an organized way to the type of valuable information that could alter our decision but which we might otherwise overlook. You may still drift toward your dominant way of thinking as your ultimate decision point (some people let the facts outweigh their gut instinct, others let novelty outweigh routine), which is normal and what makes you, you. The difference is that instead of being single minded and unilateral, you’ve engaged in holistic, quality decision-making.

Considering decisions using a Whole Brain® approach truly helps me have confidence in my decision-making. Even though I can’t know or control an outcome (after all, I may not get what I expected from any decision made), I can know that I’ve made a quality decision.

What’s more, if after doing this type of walk around I still cannot decide, I have a better sense that perhaps something deeper is at play. Maybe I’m unintentionally avoiding an issue I don’t want to deal with. Maybe I’m trying to make a decision about the wrong thing. Maybe I enjoy the indecision or at least get something from it.

But those are topics for another day!

Check out my feed on Instagram @plenumcoaching for quotes, affirmations, and journal prompts.

Want to discover how you can cultivate yourself self and your relationships by getting clear on your thinking, values, beliefs, and goals so that you can commit to meaningful actions that move you toward where and who you want to be? Well, you’re in the right place because as a coach, that’s what I do!

Visit my Let’s Get Started page to learn more about coaching and schedule our first session together.

Not sure if coaching is right for you? I understand. Coaching represents a significant commitment of time and resources. It is important to me that you have all the information you need to make the best decision for yourself. I invite you to read about My Coaching Approach and to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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