There is making decisions and then there is what many call “informed” decisions.
Of course, “informed” is a relative term. It is not how much information you have or how well informed you may be, but more about your capacity to understand and evaluate the information.
It is only after the information evaluation process that one can truly make an informed decision.
Decision-making is truly a process of weighing the pros and cons. It is not a small thing, particularly when the consequences can have life-changing effects.
Consider decisions like getting married, buying a home, becoming a parent or submitting to a certain religious philosophy. Such decisions have lasting impact. It is therefore critical that you predetermine if you are willing to accept responsibility for the consequences, which most people often ignore.
Even though such consequences make up the delicately woven fibres of every decision we make, they tend to be left out of the equation. Look at a couple’s decision to get married, which is life-changing and goes way beyond the emotions of planning the wedding.
Within the decision to marry are consequences like the need to adjust behaviour, share finances and make decisions as a couple. For many couples, these consequential points are often not discussed and soon become major roadblocks in their relationship.
Such a decision requires the sifting through of tonnes of information about each other and each partner’s capacity to handle the underlying consequences.
Decisions that result in such lasting changes have an indelible influence on your life as a whole, but on your emotions in particular. Oddly, people seldom pay attention to the incredible role of their emotions when it comes to decision-making. Yet, emotions play a significant part of this process.
Even the information being considered has an emotional value. In most instances it flows from the emotions of the person or group providing the information. Their emotional state can directly influence how the information is received and the decision is made.
Of course, the art of emotional communication to sway people’s decisions is an old but very effective strategy. It is for this reason that you must take responsibility to do more than just get information. Go beyond the emotions to analyse and make sense of the information for yourself.
Fail to do so, and your decisions can become emotionally hijacked by whosoever. Take the time to think critically about the details in order to make the decision that best serves your intentions.
Even though this process may sound as simple as pie, the vast majority of people are simply ill equipped to scrutinise information in this way. Consequently, they unknowingly fall prey to the unbridled emotional agendas of the messenger(s). Chief amongst these messengers are media houses and other such entities. They are in the business of information selling/telling and you can rest assured that they are cleverly aware of the high value of people’s emotions. So much so that without the currency of emotions, the common practice of blatant sensationalism, innuendos and unchecked insinuations will have no real effect. It is against this backdrop that you must find the audacity to wade through rhetoric and overt mumbo jumbo to make an informed decision.
Leader to leader, recognise the power of your personal responsibility. It clearly asserts that you have the ability to respond effectively in meeting the decision-making challenges of your life. Understand that all information must be contextualised, analysed and evaluated for you to strip away any untruths and emotions before you accept a decision.
Indeed, living an empowered life lies in your capacity to make informed decisions. Such decisions are made best by creating an empowering rather than disempowering decision-making process. Yes, you can do it.
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• Michelle M Miller is a certified life coach, communication and leadership expert. Visit www.michellemmiller.com; mail can be sent to PO Box CB-13060.