Sometimes, some decisions are so hard to take that it rips apart a part of our souls
It was June 22, the day Sonia had been anxiously looking forward to, for 364 days. She’ one of those girls who take such a day – her birthday to heart. And not only that, she expects everyone close to her to make this day special. Just like Lemony Snicket once pointed out that: “every good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up to read them”; Sonia believes and passionately expects the different social media platforms she and her friends inhabit– WhatsApp statuses, tweets, IG stories and snaps –not be neat (empty), because in these platforms are been uploaded and posted birthday pictures, wishes and videos of her.
Kelly, one of her very close friend, lost her dad that same week. It had been a rough week on Kelly’s part and the last thing she wanted was to have her social media platforms inundated with pictures and videos of her friend, while marred by cloying sentiments. But he running guilt in kelly’s mind was: ‘since she did it for me, I must do it for her’. Kelly mustered some courage, scribbled one or two birthday wishes and posted them on her social media platforms. And almost immediately, her heart began a series of unwanted soul-crushing and guilt spitting talks. It didn’t sit right with her – how could she pretend to be happy, or happy for her friend when everything was bleak in her mind and life. She ended up taking down all those posts. She deleted everything, signed out and regretted ever posted them in the first place.
“Time is like a river that carries us forward into encounters with reality that require us to make decisions. We can’t stop our movement down this river and we can’t avoid those encounters. We can only approach them in the best possible way.”
Just like in the Sonia and Kelly dilemma, we’ve all found ourselves wanting in the face of tough life decisions. When we were growing infants, our parents’ guided us through life by telling us what to do. As we got older, we were called to make our own choices. Some folks expend a lot of time thinking about these life-changing choices, while others leave it to happenstance/fate. Needless to say, whether we chose to think through those decisions or not, a decision is being taken. Among the myriad of decisions we are called to take, we get to choose what we are going after (our goals), and that winds up influencing our paths in life. If you want to be an Engineer, you go to an engineering school; if you want to have a family, you find a mate; if you want to grow muscles, you sign up to a gym; if you want to crack up wise, you find good books to read; if you want to make money, you find a job; and the list continues. As we move toward these goals, we are prone to encounter problems, these new problems push us to make other decisions, and those decisions lead us to other decisions. Throughout our briefly lived lives, we make hundreds, thousands and millions of decisions –some large and others small. Mindful of the list presented above, the most common daunting decisions that young adults of today face are: should I go back to school or pursue my career/Job? ; should I break up or should I stay in this relationship that isn’t working? ; should I remain in this secure job or should I move to a new one – where I shall be assigned more responsibilities? ; Is it time to leave the family house or should I stay a little longer? Should I join this network marketing (Longrich) over that (Aim Global) or just stay out of it altogether? And the list continues.
Most importantly is the question of what’s the optimal way to make these decisions and live without regret? It pays to think about how we make them because they are what ultimately determine the quality of our lives
In this unusual piece, we shall examine two strategies –the popular and less dramatic vs the unpopular, more dramatic one and very impactful.
Pros and Cons strategy (Popular)
The untold truth behind all tough decision isn’t the fact that there is a right and wrong answer, but the fact that both answers are right. It’s usually a question of what’s first –a prioritizing and sequencing problem or which solution is most appropriate in a given situation.
Any time, anyone has a life-changing decision to make, this –Pros and Cons strategy –often goes as the most recommended strategy. This strategy requires that you do this:
Take a pen and paper
Create two sections – (A) Pros and (B) Cons
Analyze your responses and choose the one with the more pros than cons.
Let’s test that against the existential question of going back to school vs finding a job/following your passion.
Proposition #1 Going back to school
- I will receive specialized knowledge –learn new and updated concepts –adapted to my field of study
- I will get a higher degree and our society values one’s highest university degrees
- I will be more disciplined in my education through my teachers and supervisors
- I may waste my time and year, by graduating with notes and a degree that has no veritable substance
- Furthering one’s education is very expensive –if I look at opportunity cost, I may be better off investing that money elsewhere.
- Almost anything schools purport to teach, I can learn on my own, especially online.
Proposition #2 Find a job or start my business
- I will gain more hands-on experience and mastery of the terrain
- I will make money
- I will use the money to go back to school in the future
- I may be undervalued (at my job) for possessing a very low degree
- I may be outwitted by those seeking the same job with lesser degrees
- I may fail at my business venture, and be revolving on the same spot years later.
- I may be closed several doors for not possessing the right degree.
At this point, what is left is a little calculation of which has more pros and fewer cons. We can all agree that going back to school saves the day.
The Whole Body Yes strategy
The whole Body Yes strategy is very unpopular but at the same time, highly effective. It reintroduces the value of human intuitions and emotions. As humans, we are all prone to ward against making decisions based on emotions. But, to ignore our intuitions and gut feelings is to count as useless millions of years of evolution.
The Whole Body Yes method requires that when we are faced with any decision, for example: go on a date, help someone on a project, or drop out of school for your passion, we should ask these three tiny questions.
Is it a Yes in my brain – is my mind in accord with this decision?
Is it a Yes in my body – is my body all-in with this decision?
Is it a Yes in my heart – is my heart and soul ok with this?
It must be a Yes! Yes! Yes! For you to proceed. Anything less than a triple Yes should be followed by a no to the request.
So the next time your friend asks you to move in with him – to save more money, do the whole body yes strategy.
The spreadsheet, mathematical and rational method is a very recent approach in decision making. That said, it wasn’t developed as a replacement of the emotional approach to decision making but as a complementary strategy.
To make my All Body Yes decisions more dramatic and worthy, I often place two chairs close to each other.
Chair 1: is where I sit to reflect on: should I embark on this project?
Chair 2: is where I sit to reflect on: Should I relinquish the invitation to this project?
When I sit on chair one, I close my eyes and ask the three questions – while visualizing the consequences of this decision in the nearby future. Afterwhich, I get to repeat the process with chair 2.
To be earnest, I am not advocating an either/or model in decision making but rather a holistic approach. Some decisions might warrant one strategy over the other, but most times we might have to utilize both strategies and not diss our gut feelings in the process.
PS. After two years of writing, I have noticed that I failed in my promise of using the Untold as a medium to unveil: Ideas, strategies and stories. I think strategies have been largely ignored or underexplored. If this new venture into strategies was interesting, please indicate in the comment section. Finally, don’t forget the good habit of sharing this article with everyone that may need it.
Verberi Leslie Micheal