How to make conscious decisions

Not long ago I was posed a great question by Sarah Arrow of Sarkemedia, marketing for entrepreneurs and the 30-day blogging challenge, among many things fame.

What do you recommend that a woman does so she can become fully conscious in her decisions?

Conscious decision making can be both easy and hard. Easy because some decisions can be made in the here and now based on a gut instinct. Hard because the decision is harder. It needs more time, more reflection, you may not be good at making decisions for new things, or you are just rubbish at consciously choosing, you may need external validation or there may be some other reason that makes this a hard decision.

There are some simple rules for becoming fully conscious in your decision making. First, is to understand how you do things. If you do not know how you do anything, how can you know how conscious decision making will work for you?

I have a tool I use for my clients, called what kind of planner are you. It’s a quick read. After reflection, you may find that you are a combination of a two types and I’d ask you under what circumstances are you one or the other?

What has planning got to do with decision making? Simply that it asks you to reflect on how and why you make some of your choices.

Gut, heart and head

When we make a decision based on our guts it is usually fast, we just do it. However, we often do not listen to our guts and immediately override it with our heads, missing out that vital ingredient of the heart.

The head is usually best left for slow decisions that need some reflection time. If too much head is given (sorry for the picture in your head), then you may risk never making a decision.

The heart is where your divine inner wisdom resides, where you have a knowing based on your values.

Each of these has a rightful place in conscious decision making. Coming back to Sarah’s question and the key is to know how you make decisions and which of these is right or appropriate for which situation.

Four stages of the conscious competence model

How we form our decisions is progressive. You can use this model to understand how you made decisions through the stages of your life and the impact this now has. Another way is to use it to understand your decision make process now.

Unconscious Incompetence - You don’t know what you don’t know. The early stages of life.

Conscious Incompetence – You know you don’t know. This is a fantastic learning stage. Growing up, going to school, university and early career.

Conscious Competence – You know that you know, your just not entirely clear on how. You know what you know, but it’s not what you want to do forever. Often at this stage, you will yearn to change direction and be starting to consider other options.

Unconscious Competence – You can do what you are doing with your eyes closed. In your life, there may be something missing which you want to explore. At this stage, you will have gathered immense knowledge, skills and experience, be unclear how you can use it all, but you know that there is another way to utilise it.

Five simple steps

Aware

There are no rules just your rules, and you need to be aware of them. How do you do things? What is your criteria for decision making? Map it out now and pin it up. You may be surprised at what you learn, I always am when I properly reflect. Consider the last few decisions you made, one from the gut, one from the heart and one from the head. What did you learn? How does that make you feel?

Awake

How awake are you to the effect your decisions have on you, others and your environment? Go back to the last three decisions and consider this. Also look at how connected each decision was to your values. What does this tell you? Consider the outcome of your choices and how awake you are to what this means to you.

Alive

How did each of these decisions make you feel? What are those emotions? Dig deep and consider how does this or these emotions run your life? Good decision making should make you feel alive. This is not in the sense that you are leaping around with happiness because sometimes good decisions are heart wrenching. This is alive in the sense that they are completely connected to who you are.

Acceptance

You cannot turn back the clock. What is done is done. Acceptance of the decision you made is crucial. All you can do is to decide what next, what did I learn and what, if anything will I do differently next time?

Action

Whatever happens, you need to take action, even if the action is no action. I know that there have been times when my decision has been to simply let go, to not be attached to the outcome and just let others get on with it. When it comes to action I, do the gut, heart and head test.

This model does not stop at action. Following an action, you always come back to awareness. Reflection is powerful.

I place a hand on my gut, and one on my heart and I ask what do I think? I sit in silence with my breath, release the question and wait. I will feel, see or sense something. I will then journal and then if I need to check in with my head, I will.

More and more, I find myself choosing to take no action, expend no energy and stay protected from the drama. I ask myself do I care enough? If the answer is no, then my choice is easy. This may not work for you, and that's great, we are all different to how we want to be in this world.

What do you think?

A fundamental part of conscious decision making is to stop and ask ‘what do I think?’ Out loud, not just in your head, let your voice be heard. This question is not for your conscious mind to analyse, more ask the question and go deep into yourself – trance like to allow the answers to surface.

It is not enough for you to look at my journey or my transformation and to say ‘I’ll do the same.’ The same will not work. What works is self enquiry. What works might be considering what I or others have done and trying things on for size, if you want. Importantly is to always be asking your divine inner wisdom what she thinks. You must only take on board what you can. After asking ‘what do, I think?’ take action based on your intuition (gut) and divine inner wisdom (heart) – not mine or Georgina down the roads – yours.

The energy of your decisions

Energy has been described in many forms by many different cultures, as Chi, Ki, Prana, and a life-force. Scientists describe in a different way by measuring ions and atoms. Both have a place in our understanding of self and transformation.

Energy, as you know, is everywhere and everything. Food contains energy, the air that we breathe has energy, and every cell in your body has an energetic impulse. As you sit quietly and contemplate you - you are using and harnessing energy. Breathing circulates and connects you to your energy. Without breath you are dead. Healers harness energy to heal. People with passion bring energy into everything that they do, and this energy creates action. To transform and grow, you need energy.

Everything you do uses large quantities of energy. If you cultivate good habits (i.e. conscious decisions) and look after your energy, it will remain healthy and provide a powerhouse for your life.

To become physically, emotionally, mentally and spirituality healthy, one must have an energy system which is balanced and in harmony. Guess what? Only you can decide to consciously engage with that.

Ten quick decision making points

What do you recommend that a woman does so she can become fully conscious in her decisions?
  1. Get to know you and how and why you do things. How you do anything is how you do everything
  1. Know why you have made previous decisions
  1. Look for patterns in your gut, heart and head ones
  1. Practice the gut, heart and head sequence and if it doesn't work for you, create your ritual
  1. Understand your values, and you will certainly know what decision you will make next time you are faced with something
  1. Ask, other people can be very insightful. You don’t have to do what they say
  1. Always know that you are using the best resources you have available at the time
  1. Practice journaling around different decision making ideas, from the very easy to the very hard. What do you learn?
  1. Look at decisions from many angles. What do you learn?
  1. Remember you cannot turn back the clock, so make a conscious decision to be more conscious next time you are faced with a choice

PS: You might even want to consider your levels of emotional intelligence (this article is about EQ and writing, but you will get the drift)

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