Procrastinators always have poorly defined goals and successful people always have clearly defined goals. Successful people do not want to waste energy going nowhere in particular.
It is imperative that in being a good decision maker you start the whole process by clearly defining your goals. Procrastinators often get into trouble when they start decision making by not having clearly defined goals so they are like a yacht at sea without sail, directionless.
Be precise in defining your goals. Work out exactly where you want your decision to take you. Pay attention to the small detail of the description of your goal. If you do not do this, you could end up like the directionless yacht at sea, not going anywhere in particular and not having the means to get there.
Exercise: Setting your goals for decision making
1. Take a pen and piece of paper or use a computer.
2. Think about a decision you need to make.
3. Write out what the goal of making the decision will be. What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve when you have made the decision? What will be the payoff?
4. Practice defining the goals of other decisions you might have to make soon. Practice goal defining.
There are seven steps you can take to help you overcome procrastination, set goals and make good decisions:
1. Check the facts
Procrastinators often accept the facts without checking because reality is not that important to them, since they go into their procrastinator style and are not attached to the outcome. Or, they may go the opposite way and check every fact again and again, but still not make a decision.
In weighing up your options, checking your facts is absolutely essential. Using a second person to check the facts is also a very good idea. Sometimes we do not see things well because we may have emotional investments in decisions, which cloud our vision, and this is particularly true for procrastinators.
Getting a second opinion about the facts is a great idea if the decision is important. Not only can it help clarify the facts but it can also help us to see if we have gone into a procrastination style and need to reassess our reality testing.
2. Weigh up the options
The reason procrastinators avoid making decisions is partly because they find the comparison process of weighing one option against the other too stressful.
This is why step 1 is so important because in order to weigh up the options, you need good reality testing. To see the options clearly requires you not to go into your procrastination style but to stay mindful in the present. It is also important to look at all your options.
I love the phrase “weighing up”. It conjures up visions of a set of scales to decide which is the heavy side and which is the light side. You may of course have many more than two options and you need to weigh one against the others to eliminate the unsuitable one and eventually select the good option.
3. Assess the possibilities
In the process of weighing up your options, look at the possibilities of every option.
What is the potential of every option?
What could every option give you?
Explore the possibilities quite extensively. Use what you know and get a second opinion. Do some research. You often find that options you might not normally have considered may offer possibilities that can get you to your goal.
It is surprising sometimes when you explore things, what turns up. Last year I took a university course that I really did not expect to be very enjoyable but when I was doing it I fully enjoyed its content. Afterwards I was glad I took it but I only found out how much I enjoyed it when I gave it a chance.
4. Assess the probabilities
Probabilities are different from possibilities. Possibilities are what each option may give you. Probabilities are what the likely chances of success of that option are. You can look at every option and give them a percentage choice of success.
If you did the probabilities without looking at the possibilities, you would get a different result, so it is important to look at the possibilities of each option first. If you find one option has a higher level of possibilities than you thought, it may increase its chances of success.
The classic mistake of procrastinators is that they choose the option that has the greatest possibilities but may have low probabilities of success. They are not reality testing and do not have the facts; they are tempted by what appears to be the greatest possibility and this is gambling. It is bad decision making. If you constantly choose the option that has little probability of success you will get little success.
I am not saying you should not take risks in life or dream big. What I am saying is if all you take is high risk, your levels of probabilities for success become lower.
5. Anticipating negative consequences
In a process that is set up to produce a decision it is important to check, before you activate the decision, to see if there might be any possible negative consequences. Many people make decisions and hope for the best, which of course is not a good idea.
Do the best you by thinking, asking around and doing research, to see if there might be any negative drawbacks to the chosen option. If you think there might be, you will need to decide whether they are acceptable negative consequences. If they are not acceptable, go back and do the process again until you reach an option that you would be happy with.
6. Activate the decision
So, you have gone through the process of good decision making. You have been very mindful and careful through your processes and all you need to do is to implement your decision with an action. You have maximised your possibilities, considered the probability of success and minimised the negative effects.
Act on your decision.
7. Do an ecology check
Ecology checking is checking if your decision is working well. Different decisions have different times when you can tell whether the decision is working well or not. It is good to start doing your ecology check as soon as possible after your activation. If the decision is not working well, you may need to go back and make another decision that will give you a better outcome.
This 7-step formula for decision making will help you overcome any procrastination style. However, you are the one who needs to implement it and make it work for you. Learn the formula by heart. Practice your decision making so you are a good decision maker. Remember, practice makes you good at good decision making.
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BHSc, ND is a registered clinical hypnotherapist, psychotherapist, counsellor, sex therapist and naturopath with more than 30 years’ experience helping people create positive change in their lives. Visit her website www.doctorok.com for more information and to access her range of downloadable hypnosis products to help you achieve fast, effective behavioral change.