Chapter Seven: Making The Decision

“Choose always the way that seems the best however rough it may be. Custom will soon render it easy and agreeable.”
– Pythagoras

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Vacillating people seldom succeed.  Successful men and women are very careful in reaching their decisions, and very persistent and determined in action thereafter.”
– L.G. Elliott

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
– Roy Disney

“Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days.  What you can do or think you can do, begin it.  For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons.  In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves.  In the important decisions of personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature.”
– Sigmund Freud

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
– Elbert Hubbard

Your life is your decision.  Only you can make the right decision.  By now you have laid out your alternatives and refined them to make improved combinations.  The time has come to decide on one alternative.  It is one thing to realize that you have to make the decision; it is another challenge to actually make it.  Deciding is hard.

“Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

There is no surefire way to make decisions.  Making decisions is an art, not a science.  It involves the very core of who we are.  Realizing this is liberating, as it points to our ability to use our faculty of volition to decide.

Realize that by making your decision, you are making a dent in the universe; a dent that only you can make. Destiny will notice your dent as a knock on the door, and open up.  Since there is no absolute certain way to make decisions, it is easy to end up in an endless loop of uncertainty.

The ability to decide is the ability to break out of the loop.  No one can tell you how to make your decision.  You can consult other people for advice, but at the crucial moment of actually deciding, you are alone.  You are staring your destiny in the eyes.

Different people will make a different decision.  You want to find your way to make your decision. Making the decision is opening the gate to the rest of your life.  I can only lead you to the gate.  You will open it by making the decision.

I wish I could tell you how to do it, but this is where you are left alone.  What we can do, and what we have done in this program, is to methodically prepare ourselves and to raise our consciousness about the nature of the decision we want to make.

To help you in making your decision, we will examine a number of decision-making techniques.

The word “decide” actually comes from Latin.  It consists of “de” and “side,” which means “to cut off,” as in incision. You will have to decide on one alternative and cut off the other alternatives.

You want to overcome the resistance that lies in wanting to have all the information and make the perfect choice. There is no such thing as a perfect choice.

At this point you have done the job of defining, examining, and refining your alternatives.  You have gathered your thoughts and preferences, and you have weighed the pros and cons.  This is when it is time to make the cut off — to make the decision.

If you still feel that you need more information or more time, you can incorporate this into your alternatives. You can refine your alternatives until you have an alternative you can decide on.  That includes finding more information and using more time.

As you are now about to decide, realize that you will never arrive at an absolute certainty.  At some point you simply have to make a leap of faith and make the decision.  The trick is to prepare well before making this leap of faith, like we have done in this workbook.  Do not fall into the trap of working on your alternatives all your life.  You have to make a cut off point and decide.

This cut off point has now come as you have done this program.  Realize that all alternatives involve risk.  Your job is not to avoid risk, but to calculate the risks and make sure that the total of what you can expect is maximized within the risk level you are willing to take over time.  There is a strong, positive self-enforcing momentum in making the decision and committing to it.  Once you have made the decision, providence moves for you, too.

“Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the “right stuff” to turn our dreams into reality.”
– James Womack

So relieve yourself from thinking that you need to make a perfect decision.  You can’t.  You come to a point where you have to decide.  Give yourself some time and sleep on it.  Make important decisions after a thorough and conscious investigation of the facts.  Also allow your subconscious to work on the problem.

Involve both your heart and mind in this process.  Your subconscious mind can be your friend, as it will continuously work on solving the questions you present to it.  The subconscious processes all the input it has gotten and works on results especially when we sleep.

When your subconscious mind has produced an answer, this answer is awarded to you and will be “tested” in the real world when you are awake.  If, for example, your subconscious mind comes up with the idea that you need to quit your job, it will test this idea in various ways when you wake up.  You will want to ask your spouse what she thinks.  You will pay attention to articles in the newspaper about changes of career and ask yourself, “Do I want to quit my job?”

In this way, both the conscious and the subconscious mind need some time to process the alternatives and the potential decisions that it is faced with.  You need time to test the alternative against your values and ideas on who you are.

If, for example, one alternative you have is to “become a Buddhist monk and move to total solitary in a Tibetan monastery,” and your values are “spirituality, frugality, honesty, family, nature conservation, and generosity,” you will process the alternatives against all your values.

The first three will go fine, but when you come to “family” you will see that your alternative of living in solitary is in conflict with your family value.  Perhaps you can mitigate your alternatives into spending just one summer as a monk, or testing it for a weekend in a Buddhist monastery in your own country.

The old saying, “To sleep on it,” makes a lot of sense since one good night’s sleep will allow you to process a question.  Ask your subconscious mind good questions, such as “What do I want to do with my life?” and “What are my alternatives?”

As you prepare and refine your alternatives, you need to sleep on them again.  Ask yourself “Do I want to (state your alternative)?”  You want to phrase your alternatives to your subconscious mind in a question form, like “Do I want to become a Buddhist monk?” or “Do I want to become an ice skater?”

When you have consciously decided on your alternative, you will also want to sleep on your decision and ask your subconscious mind “I have decided to give up professional basketball and establish a family.  How does this feel?”

How long do you need?  You want to allow yourself enough time to process your alternatives against your important values and your particular life circumstances.  This means that you need enough time to go through these elements.

In this area, there is a lot of value in the age-old institutions mankind has made.  One such institution is the seven-day week.  Our life is divided into weeks.  This division is arbitrary.  We could just as well have arrived at a ten-day week or a five-day week.  But the experience of generations have concluded that the seven-day week represents a cycle.  People need to devote enough time for work, sleep, rest, and contemplation, and then start over on a new cycle.

Therefore, I recommend that after you have completed the exercises in this book and arrived at your alternatives, you use at least one week to evaluate the alternatives.  Then you want to use at least one week to dwell on your preferred alternative before you finally decide on this alternative.  Allow yourself another week after having decided on one alterative before making any irrevocable actions by committing and making your decision public.

This means that the process of completing the program will be three to four weeks for most people.  Also, make this decision in a time of your life when you do not have too many other major things happening.

For instance, if you try to make the decision in the same time as you start a new job, have your  first child, or at a hectic business trip to New York City, you will have so much other information to process that neither your conscious nor subconscious mind will have time to reflect properly upon the questions.

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Free Workbook: “what do you want to do with your life?”
Allowing Ourselves to Ask the Question

Table of Contents

I. Chapter One: Introduction to Life Planning

II. Chapter Two: Your Past

III. Chapter Three: The Influence Of Generations

IV. Chapter Four: Your Present

V. Chapter Five: Your Future

VI. Chapter Six: Your Alternatives

VII. Chapter Seven: Making The Decision

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