Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Moment of Decision

One moment, your path is uncertain, the next you are on it. In the interim, you have crossed a moment of decision. Decisions define the course of our lives. They are that simple, that important, and that complicated. There can be a long delay between ttrhe moment of decision and the outcome that results. How do we tell when we are on that path? How do we know when a decision has really been made?

Look at a simple decision you have made many times. For example, what restaurant will you go to this time? The decision can be the result of many factors, including negotiation. If you look back, you'll see there was always a moment when one choice was taken and all others were excluded. Decisions with bigger consequences have similar moments.

One habit I have that I hope you adopt is capturing in writing anything that comes into your head. I always have something nearby to capture stray thoughts -- paper, voice recorder, cell phone, anything that works. I started this as a result of David Allen's Getting Things Done, a practice which lets me recognize moments of decision.

After you have collected your ideas, GTD asks you to process them by identifying intended results(outcomes) and next physical action.For our purposes, there are three possible results. Let's take a quick look at each.

First, your thought may have no outcome, no action, and nothing that needs saved. It's junk which can be tossed as soon as you know it for what it is. You are pruning the decision tree, making a decision against action. Everything else is still under consideration.

The vast majority of what's left goes onto a list of someday maybe items. Someday you may want to read a specific book. Maybe you'll go see that movie some day. The purpose of the list is to keep options open without making a commitment. For anything on this list, you haven't made a decision.

At some moment, I decide to commit to an action and the decision is made. The item is removed from the someday list and included as a project (outcome) on another list. More planning and organization can follow.

A decision requires a commitment and a commitment is shown by an action. Anthony Robbins has a rule to never leave the scene of a decision without taking some action to implement it. I agree, but with that action done what's the one after it? That action goes on another list. With that done, the decision has been made and the project is underway.

Decisions are so important that we need to recognize when they take place, make them often and make them as good as we can. The someday list lets you keep an idea around so you can focus on one thing at a time.

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