[Note from the Proprietor: This, as you have no doubt surmised (can't put anything past you folks!), is part 2 of an unusually lengthy (for me, anyway) two-part post. In case you just escaped being abducted by aliens, fell off the planet and just climbed back on, or otherwise missed it, Part 1 can be found here. In order to capture the nub of the gist, you'll need to read it first.]
Use It or Lose It
Well, I hear ya, my friends, and I’m here to tell ya – been there. So it’s OK; go ahead and leave your head in the sand a bit longer. Hey, you deserve a break, my friend; we all do every now and then.
Not to split hairs, but to my mind (which admittedly is a very strange place) it’s not really the decision itself that’s the problem. No, I think what really makes us sweat are the imagined consequences of that decision. Remember, it’s perception, not necessarily reality, we’re dealing with here.
I mean, when decision-time comes along, what you really spend most of your time doing is pondering those pesky consequences of your life-cha- what do you say, for convenience (and to avoid that pesky screaming), let’s just call it an LCD, why don’t we? – your LCD, right? You might end up mentally juggling two, three (or ten, for that matter) possible outcomes. (That’s why they’re LCD’s, don’cha know.) (Juggling metaphor, by backpackphotography)
But here’s the thing. See, learning to handle LCDs is not only something to be expected – hey that’s just life – but I say “big” decision-making should be something to look forward to, and maybe even profit from (sound of needle scratching across a vinyl record).
Alright, about now I can hear you saying to yourself, “Man, this whack job has finally lost it! Now he thinks I should be happy to agonize over LCD’s!”
Well, before we go on, lemme just clarify a couple of things: a) I haven’t finally ‘lost it’; I actually lost it awhile back. To tell you the truth, I don’t really miss it; b) wasn’t an agonizer booth a Klingon punishment device in that weird alternate universe where Mr. Spock wore a beard? And c) you should really do something about that ‘talking to yourself’ thing; people are beginning to, you know, stare.
So what the heck do you mean, you ask? Hey, am I glad you asked! See, decision-making is like anything else; to get really good at it (and to realize the benefits from it), well, it’s a skill you have to practice.
One can liken it to the way a body-builder prepares for the Mr. (or Ms.) Universe competition. They don’t start over at the big weights, you know. No, they start small and work their way up, giving their bodies – specifically their muscles – time to develop. Even more importantly, once they start, they never stop.
What, you think Lou Ferrigno was born that way? (Uh-oh; excuse me while I try to shake off that image.) No, silly; he diligently worked at for years.
See, if you spend all your time avoiding decisions (c’mon, admit it; you’ve done it now and then, haven’t you?), well, your decision-making ability begins to atrophy (which is a technical term that means roughly Hey, nice trophy; so you accomplished something once. But what have you done lately?) Yep; it’s very much like a muscle in that respect; you only have two choices: you either use it or lose it.
Alright, maybe it’s about time I got around to making my point.
What to Do – and What You Get
The problem, as I mentioned before, is actually one of attitude. After all, if you can’t change the fact that LCDs are as inevitable as the onset of chest-of-drawers syndrome (you know, where everything at chest level eventually ends up in the drawers), then maybe we need to concentrate on what we can change: our attitude.
So, how does one go about changing one’s attitude about something they’d rather avoid at all costs? Well, I’m here to tell you: it’s simple… but not easy.
Face it – OK, first things first. Until you face up to the fact that LCDs are both necessary and inevitable, well, you might as well stop reading right here. (On the other hand, since you’ve come this far, you might as well finish this post. You may be glad you did.) It’s like any other problem challenge you face; until you acknowledge it’s there, you can’t possibly do anything about it – or learn something from it. (Mirror 1, by leifE)
Step back a bit – Think about it (sound of gears grinding); when you find yourself facing an LCD, doesn’t your world sorta narrow down to that one issue, and that one issue alone? It’s almost like you put blinders on and you find it almost impossible to think of anything else. Like being on a racetrack, going ’round and ’round and… OK, enough metaphors. It’s sorta the nature of the beast. But probably the best thing you could do is take a large economy-sized step backwards and take a look at the bigger picture. How does this LCD fit in with the rest of your life? How does it affect your world, your friends, or your family? Asking yourself these questions might even be the key to an innovative solution you may have been missing.
Talk it out – Alright; speaking as a human being of the male persuasion, I can honestly agree that most of us don’t like to ask for help. I’m sure you ladies experience the same thing to some degree (at least, I’d like to think so!), but it does tend to be particularly difficult for us guys. Sometimes, though, the best thing we can do is open up to someone we respect and trust and just lay it out there. For one thing, talking about it somehow makes it easier to face. For another, by simply saying it out loud, you might find it’s not as bad as it sounded in your head. Finally (should you be willing to ask), getting another’s point of view might be surprisingly useful in providing a solution you didn’t think of before. I know; it’s happened to me countless times. (Conversation, by jurek D.)
Involve the affected – The fact is, most LCDs affect more than just you. If you’re married, if you have children, if – well, you get the idea. But if you don’t involve them in the decision process, you’re going to be in for some stormy weather ahead, lemme tell ya! Once again, multiple viewpoints make for multiple solutions. Even better, they encourage consensus as well. What’s the big deal about that, you ask? Well, consensus builds support. Need I say more?
Practice making decisions - What’s the best way to get good at making big decisions? Make lots of small ones! There’s a great scene from the movie You’ve Got Mail, in which Joe Fox points out that Starbucks has done people a favor: they force coffee drinkers to make six decisions at the start of each day (regular or grande? caff or decaff? etc.), just so they could practice their decision-making ability. Go ahead and laugh, but it’s a valid point. (The Choices, by Orin Optiglot)
Now, assuming you’ve started putting the above principles into practice, once your decision-making muscles start to build you’ll begin to notice some interesting benefits.
Confidence -One thing you’ll notice is that you’ll start to be more confident in your decision-making ability. And there’s no more powerful feeling than (well-placed) confidence in your own ability to assess those LCDs when they rear their ugly heads! Now, instead of dreading them like you used to, you’ll find yourself ready to evaluate, consider and respond. Instead of agonizing over days, weeks, or even months, you’ll enjoy the ability to make the decision and move on to other things, with very little, if any, grief, agony, or gnashing of teeth.
Power – Closely related to confidence is the feeling of power. You’ll look in the mirror and see a much more powerful person standing there. No longer reduced to a sniveling mass of icky goo (yuck!) every time an LCD pops up on the radar, you’ll be ready to face whatever life has to offer, no matter what – and what’s more, you’ll enjoy it!
Now do you see how you can change your attitude about LCDs? Like I said; it’s actually pretty simple – but certainly not easy. However, with effort and practice, and yes, a little help from your friends, you too can become a brand new person when it comes to those big, honkin’ decisions. Maybe still not quite able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, but still…
So what about it? What would you add to the list above? How do you manage those pesky LCDs?