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Have you ever said or done something in the heat of the moment, only to regret it later? I have. All cases of regret come from an undesired end outcome. I guess that’s why “Habit 2” in Franklin Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Begin with the end in mind.” Mindful decision-making starts in the imagination. You must envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes” (Habit 2). Beginning with the end in mind is more than a visualization practice; it is a decided approach to formalizing a plan to reach your desired outcome.
Mindful Decision-Making and Desired Outcomes
How many times have you watched the news and thought how stupid is he to have done that? It entertains us to see the rich and famous make decisions that destroy their opportunities and reputations. When I was growing up, one of the best ways to get the goods was in the checkout line at the grocery store. Popular gossip rags made millions by airing the dirty laundry of actors, athletes, and politicians. In addition to print magazines, we now have a 24-hour news cycle and the Internet to fuel our desire for sensationalism.
According to an article on Vox.com, Javier Xarracina and George York teamed up to figure out why people make foolish choices. They came up with a concept called brainshift.
Under the right circumstances, a subconscious neurobiological sequence in our brains causes us to perceive the world around us in ways that contradict objective reality, distorting what we see and hear. This powerful shift in perception is unrelated to our intelligence, morals, or past behaviors. In fact, we don’t even know it’s happening, nor can we control it.
Essentially, once our perception changes, we are doomed to make bad decisions. Let’s bring brainshift a little closer to home. Do you have a family member or a friend who makes poor choices? You know, the one your aunts speak quietly about in the kitchen. The girl-cousin who is extremely smart and hardworking but is married to a deadbeat? Or, they guy-cousin who owns a successful business but makes babies all over the city? It seems that both people could make better choices, but their perception is likely clouded by what they’ve been through, what they want, or what they fear.
Maybe the girl-cousin wanted a husband but was afraid that she would end up alone, so she decided to marry the first guy who proposed. Perhaps the guy-cousin fears commitment but wants sex. Instead of settling down for a long time, he entered into temporary relationships to meet his physical needs. Neither scenario gets the desired outcome because their wants and fears cloud their judgment. Healthy decision-making occurs when we practice mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
According to Headspace.com, “mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.”
It is easy to get caught up in our thoughts and feelings. Think about the times you didn’t move forward with your plans because you were afraid to fail. The only way to find success is to work towards it. What we think or how we feel is very real to us but, what we think and feel might not be a true representation of the world around us or the future world we would want to live in.
Will you fail if you start? Maybe. But, you’re sure to fail when you don’t start.
4 Ways to Practice Mindfulness in Decision-Making
Most good decisions are a result of being mindful during the decision-making process. For me, being mindful is making sure that I know my why, set my goals to meet my why, determine what resources I’ll need, and having others to go over my plans so they can hold me accountable.
Know Your Purpose – What’s Your Why
Every person has a purpose. Whether or not you reach self-actualization relies on your ability to look inward to learn what makes you tick. My looking inward included looking to God for direction. I keep my why written in each of my notebooks.
I am a writer, anointed by God, to use my words to entertain, encourage, and equip women to build, grow, and live abundantly.
While my purpose appears to be singular, it’s quite multifaceted. For me to touch women, I have to honor the roles and seasons of womanhood. I am a wife, business owner, mom, minister, sister, friend, and so many other things. Each of my roles supports how I function in my purpose.
Living mindfully is necessary for my words to be effectual.
Align Your Goals to Fit Your Purpose
Every goal should move you in the direction of your purpose. And, some plans should be directly related to your purpose.
Goals that move you in the direction of your purpose. Being healthy is not directly related to writing. However, a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. So, I work on being physically, mentally, and emotionally fit. Other directional goals include having a tidy home, safe transportation, and supportive relationships.
Goals directly related to your purpose. As a writer, it’s evident that completing writing courses, reading, and scheduling time to write is directly related to my purpose. However, my career as a publicist is directly related to my purpose as a writer. More than 80% of my job function is creating and exploiting narratives. Writing at work prepares me to blog and submit articles.
Count Up the Costs
A long-standing joke between my sisters and I stem from something my mom admonished during our rebellious teen years. Time after time, she instructed us to count up the cost before making decisions. That preaches because it’s biblical.
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” – Luke 14:28
When planning projects, which are big goals, you must consider all the resources you’ll need. Some of them include time, money, books/courses, and personnel.
Counting up the costs matters when you begin with the end in mind. Worst-case scenario brainstorming should happen here. Hence, the long-standing joke between my sisters and me. There are times when we want things so badly—like that slice of chocolate cake you shouldn’t eat because you’re gluten intolerant-that we indulge anyway. Me? Depending on the week and if I have an antihistamine handy, I’m willing to pay the cost of minor discomfort. But, I won’t steal or rob a bank to pay my bills. Yes, doing those things will meet the financial need but open a can of worms, including jail. That’s not my ideal end.
Have Accountability Partners
Yes, you’ll need to be self-motivated to get to this point. I seldom tell others about the project until I’ve thought them through.
And every person can be accountable in every area. My sisters are excellent accountability partners for me managing my attitude. They call me out. My girlfriends from college help me to stay focused on my career and creative goals. My girlfriends from church help me in my walk with God. And, my husband, he’s the one who reminds me not to eat the entire bag of Oreo cookies.
Even when making decisions on the fly, it’s possible to be mindful. Ask yourself, will this move me closer to or further away from my goal?
What tips do you have for mindful decision-making?