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Making Your Own DecisionsGathering information and even opinions is often sensible preparation for making a decision, but using the opinions of others as a basis for decision making is not the way to go for a few reasons.  Trust your own judgement, make your own decisions, decide for yourself, and you’ll come out better off.  Self determination is worth having.  

I know, it’s not easy, especially when you lack confidence and you’re really not sure.  But have you noticed that a lot of the time the more opinions you seek, the more you get the feeling that the people you are talking it over with don’t have the answers either, and in fact seeking too many opinions can just confuse the matter and distort your judgement?

Ok, so you may not be too confident about some things, but in order to be more confident you must form your own, original opinions about things and trust your own judgement.  If you’re not capable of forming your own conclusions, that’s a sign that your self esteem is way messed up. 

Like many things, you fix one, it fixes the other – neglect both and both suffer.  You can’t wait for one or the other to magically fix itself.  It won’t.  You need to really look into yourself and ask yourself questions, and then, you need to actually try to answer them honestly, and keep asking and attempting answers until it feels authentic.

Yes, you need to be careful that you are basing decisions on the best available information and with the full confidence of your conscience – most of us have one.  What is not always so obvious is that your assessment of the best thing to do or choice to make in any given situation needs to be compatible with your desired outcome, your goals, and your values.

You also need to make sure you’re not channeling someone else’s opinion or seeking their approval in some way.  It’s easy to do this without realizing it.  Are you unconsciously being swayed by what you think others will approve of?  Are you trying to obey some non existent, imagined or implied rules that really don’t rightfully apply to you?  You need to make sure you’re not living your life as some kind of strange apology for existing, because that’s how crazy it is to ignore your own good judgement or not even try to find it.  If you’re easily talked into or out of things, whether by marketers, salespeople, your friends and family or indeed anyone, have you ever wondered why?

I have, and concluded that the reason is usually a combination of ignorance and lack of intestinal fortitude.  Seeing as you’re reading this article, and therefore hopefully thinking about it, ignorance is no longer an excuse you can use, and being gutless is not a good look.  So, check yourself and make sure you’re doing your own thinking at all times.  Because I said so.

Laziness, habit and conditioning can come into play when we make decisions too.  Have you been conditioned to think something is important, that perhaps isn’t to you?  Is it easier to just go along with what the so called experts say, what you see on TV?  Have you come to accept some things as normal by conditioning that really shouldn’t be?  For example the proliferation of bullying in schools portrayed as funny and normal on US TV.  Or the idea that fashion is more important than your own sense of aesthetics in your home décor, your hairstyle, your clothes.

You are, or should be, the best person to make decisions about what goes on in your own life.  You are the one who knows best, or has the potential to know best, what your own values are, what it is you want, what your standards are, how you want your life to be, what matters to you.  Whether it’s what car to buy, who to employ, which job to take or what you’re going to eat for dinner, you need to be able to make up your own mind, genuinely, and be ok about not necessarily getting it exactly right all the time.

A lot of people are so conditioned to seeking approval, they have largely lost touch with their own views and their own ability to have an opinion.  Have you ever seen somebody open their mouth and you could swear it was somebody else’s words coming out?

It’s not an easy thing to actually pin down your own assessments sometimes.  You may have become so lost along the way you have trouble identifying your ideas, and may have many unsuccessful attempts before you find them.  You may think you’ve finally pinned one down, only to find it’s outdated by new information or your tastes and preferences or even values have changed.  That view may no longer fit with your current desired outcome.

Not so simple to achieve self determination, is it?  But I do feel certain that:
a)    It’s vital, and
b)    It’s possible

Ok, so how do you learn to trust your own judgement?

1.    You need to know what you actually want.  What is the desired outcome.  It has to be your desired outcome, not somebody else’s.  This might be a whole other area you need to explore.  Before you can be true to yourself in large or small decisions in your everyday life, you need to know who you are, who you want to be, what matters to you, what set of measurements you’re applying, what you want to achieve.
2.    You need to make your decisions according to your own true values and goals.

There is absolutely nothing simple about this simple two step process.  Hell, I’m still trying to work out what I actually want.  Some of it’s crystal clear, other bits need the details tweaked and reworked, almost constantly.  (I like to think that’s because I’m always learning and thinking).  I wonder how many people can ever say they truly have it all worked out completely.  All we can do is build the best possible, honest and real picture we can, and keep working on it.  To keep it real and alive, we need to think about it every day.  That’s why you often read about the need for writing down your goals and reading them daily.  The purpose of that is to make sure it is still current and real and that you really believe in it, and to hold it as a focus and intention.  Believing and genuinely intending your purpose will make it a hell of a lot easier to make decisions that work towards it, that’s for sure.

So are you here to fulfill somebody else’s purpose, anybody else’s purpose, everybody else’s purpose, or your own purpose?  Whose reasoning are you using?  Whose values?  Do you still think you can please everybody, or have you figured that one out?

If somebody doesn’t agree with you, is that your problem or theirs?


#1 Katherine 2011-03-03 04:45
Thanks so much for writing this article. It was like the universe meant me to find it, as I'm feeling lost at the moment after becoming a new Mum, and heading back to work and wondering what to do with my life.

Thank you!!

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