Creating is deciding and acting.
You have a powerful life when you have decision making power. That’s the power to create what you want to experience.
But, most people do not have decision making power.
Most people have times when they feel powerless, impotent, unable to move forward. Most people tolerate things in their life that they feel powerless to change.
These days, with travel restrictions, self-isolation laws and mis-information fueling fears, it’s difficult to feel powerful. Some people even resort to dangerous mob-mentality protests just to get some sense of power back into their lives.
But there’s a way to learn how to boost your decision making power, no matter what your current circumstances are. And it’s surprisingly simple.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
The thing about decision making power is that it takes practice. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t matter how big or small the decision actually is. The process of being powerful while deciding to mop the floor is exactly the same as powerfully creating an awesome job or an amazing relationship.
Every good musician I’ve ever known practiced scales, even if they were extremely accomplished. Scales are the fundamental of music. Practicing scales improves dexterity, rhythm, tonality, control and power to complete what you set out to do. If you can’t get through a series of scales, you’re not going to be able to get through the song or the concert.
Everyone knows you can’t just decide to play music, pick up an instrument with no training or practice and sound amazing. But, when it comes to life skills, people want to skip right to mastery without practicing. They jump over the basics and wonder why they crash when things don’t work out.
So, how do you practice powerful decision making?
There are two steps: deciding and acting. That’s it.
There’s a more elaborate method called the PDCA process for managing change. The name comes from the process steps – Plan, Do, Check, Act and it’s used by many teams for continual improvement. It works for increasing personal decision making power as well. When you use any process you are able to measure your progress. And what you measure, you can manage.
We can start with baby steps and practice the first two parts – plan (decide what you want to change) and do (act on that decision). When you get a feel for these, you can add in the other steps.
But there’s a problem we need to look at first. We’ve been subconsciously sabotaging our decision making power.
You’ve been practicing powerless decision making
Part of our brain keeps track of the broken promises we’ve made to ourselves. When we start to decide, that part will suddenly start reminding us of all the other times we promised ourselves we’d do something and it didn’t happen. It’s a cynical, judgmental voice in our heads that says,
“Yeah, right… I’ve heard that before.”
How do you get around that?
When we decide to do something that’s no challenge at all, that voice stays silent.
When you go to tie your shoes, do you have any doubt that it’s going to happen?
I mean, it’s possible some outside event will suddenly happen and you’ll forget to tie your shoes. But, under normal circumstances, when you decide to tie your shoes you just do it, likely without thinking anything about it. It’s on autopilot.
It’s when you step outside of the normal decisions in your life and take on something challenging, something that stretches past your comfort zone, that the voice whispers in your ear.
The strange thing is that, like a musician practicing basic scales, when you practice deciding and acting on basic things in your life you change the script for that voice. Every time you deliberately decide and deliberately act, you’re reinforcing your decision making power. It doesn’t matter how small the action, it’s still building your power.
When we practice a skill to learn it or improve it, we need to slow things down. We need to take the skill off of autopilot and make ourselves do it deliberately. Step. By. Step.
Take something that you do all the time. Maybe it’s getting a cup of coffee. Let’s break the decision making process down.
Discover your intention.
Intention drives all decisions, whether we’re conscious of the intention or not. So, why are intending to get a cup of coffee? Intention often lies under the reason why we want something. Another way to get to this is to ask, “What problem am I trying to solve?”
Get something to write with and make a list.
Let’s label this list “Why I want coffee.”
Now write whatever pops into your mind as to why you want a cup of coffee.
Why I want coffee
- I’m kind of foggy and need a boost
- I always have a cup of coffee at this time
- I’ve got a new coffee blend and can’t wait to try it
- I just need to get up from sitting and walk around
- I’ve got a few more hours on this project and I need to stay focused
Now pick the one that feels the best to you or combine a couple. It’s not really important why you want the cup of coffee. What’s important is that you get clear about your intention. We’re practicing to improve our decision making power and we’re breaking the process down into clear discrete steps.
Find your intention with small, insignificant things and you’ll find it very useful for not-so-small, more significant things.
So, now that we’ve got our intention and know why we’re deciding to have a cup of coffee, let’s practice giving the universe notice about what we’re going to do.
State your decision outloud, fully feeling your intention.
“I’m going to get a cup of coffee!”
If you have any doubts about getting that coffee, take a moment to watch them pass, then state your decision again. If there are no doubts, it’s time to practice taking action on our decision.
This is amazingly simple and powerful.
You just clarified your intention and stated your decision to get a cup of coffee. Now get up, walk to the coffee machine and make yourself a cup of coffee.
Make it exactly how you like it.
Don’t let anything come between you and that first sip of coffee.
Taste the coffee, take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh.
Enjoy your decision making power!
Sometimes, doing this simple decision making practice a few times will shift everything in my life. I can go from feeling confused and discouraged to feeling focused and powerful just by practicing on very small things in my life.
You can do practice making decisions with anything in your life. Decide to walk to the front door and take a look outside. Maybe get really risky and decide to wash the dishes. String together two or three simple things like get the mop, then put water in the bucket, and then mop the floor.
Here are the steps to practice:
- find your intention
- state your decision out loud
- immediately do it
Don’t get distracted with anything else. Just do what you said you were going to do.
It’s even more powerful if you slow down and really get involved in what you’re doing. This creates a state of flow and flow increases your power. It doesn’t matter if you’re making up the bed or writing a business plan for a startup.
Want to stop doing something?
Okay, let’s practice that.
Decide to do something very simple. Go through the steps just like the practice exercises before and start taking action. Then deliberately make the decision to stop doing it before you get done.
Use the same decision making steps:
- find your intention
- state your decision out loud
- immediately do it
It’s okay if your intention, the reason why, is just to practice stopping. But, if you can, see what else might be there. Then state your decision out loud.
“I’m going to stop washing the dishes.”
Then take that action.
Stop doing what you were doing.
How do you feel?
Making decisions to stop something feels powerful. You don’t feel like a quitter or a loser. You used your decision making power to stop doing something. Powerful people act like that all the time. The amazing thing is that it doesn’t matter how big or little the thing you’re stopping.
That time I decided to stop smoking – whoa!
When I was 25 I was playing in a band on New Year’s Eve. A group of friends were talking about resolutions and I said something about stopping smoking. One of my friends told me he had a sure-fire way to quit.
He stuck his hand out and said, “I’ll bet you a hundred-dollars that you can’t quit smoking for one year.”
I looked at his hand and the smile on his face.
“Just think,” he continued. “That first cigarette will cost you one hundred dollars.”
Everyone was watching me and it got pretty quiet in the room. In that moment I realized that I really did want to quit and this would be a great way to do that. Besides, a hundred dollars was no small amount back then.
I put out my cigarette, shook his hand and said, “You’re on! I’ll see you right here next year and bring your cash.”
I never smoked another cigarette. I had a few days of withdrawal but that passed.
One year later on New Year’s Eve my friend showed up and handed over a crisp new $100 bill. Everyone cheered and I felt great.
I’ve never forgotten the feeling of having that kind of decision making power.
Deciding is a muscle that has to be exercised
Deciding and acting are the fundamentals to creating a life that’s perfect for you.
When you are able to really grasp your intention – the why, the problem you’re trying to solve – you add so much power to your decisions it will amaze you.
When you put the universe on notice by stating your decisions out loud and letting all your doubts wash past you’ll recognize how much power you have to decide.
And, when you act immediately on your decisions things will move in the direction you desire.
The cool thing is that you can practice this on simple, everyday actions and build your creating muscles step by step.
And, when you do, you’ll know how to silence that critical voice.
You’ll start to hear…
“Yes, I can and I am.”
You might also find this article useful – How to Get More Personal Power Now