Knowing that a choice and a decision are different can change your life.We’re not kidding.
In terms of how they feel, Choice and Decision are energetic polar opposites. When you think of each as a “way of being”, you begin to notice that the impact they have on your body and emotions is very different. Yet it is common to “collapse” them together and think they are the same thing.
Let’s look closer at these two important but often-misunderstood states of mind.
Choice exists when there are three or more options.
Decision is a selection you make based on two “either/or” options.
It is important that you begin to recognize which position you are in when faced with change in your life. Are you at choice with three or more possible options, or are you “between a rock and a hard place”, or feeling “damned if I do and damned if I don’t”?
The word “de-cide” gives us a big clue. The reason a decision can be a struggle is because at some level of awareness we know we are saying “Good-Bye” to one possible option. The root of the word, “cide”, is prevalent in the English language and means something has been killed, cut-off, and is finished. Words like homicide, suicide, genocide, pesticide, even regicide (killing a king) have similar meaning. When we decide – by definition – something that was once possible no longer exists. It is gone forever and it will never be the same again. We have literally killed something off.
Meanwhile, we are attracted to the state of choice. It naturally feels more open, expansive and generative because we are in a mode of creating more possibility for our lives. Yet it is clear the time comes where we have to move on from dreaming up options and commit to a certain direction. The point we want to make is that most people – most often – do not spend enough time in a generative phase.
In a Western culture, we are trained to believe that fast decision-making is the same thing as being smart and powerful. Unfortunately, if the “choice phase” has been omitted or rushed then the “decision phase” will be a difficult either/or struggle. A decision may feel or appear brash, risky or arrogant. A lot of people learn to live with that for the sake being seen as strong decision makers, no matter what the chaos they bring to their lives.
Appreciating how these two ways of being operate together is critical to leading a life that is in balance. An unending course of either/or decision-making is stressful; and hanging out in possible options for too long is a prescription for stuckness and procrastination.
We noted in our introduction that having a sense of how you want the outcome to feel is the most important step in powerful decision-making. When you start there and get clear about that part of the process, the possible options (choice) will keep showing up and, in many instances, a decision gets made easily and with certainty.
What is being let go has a sensation of falling away, rather than being ripped apart.
Here is an exercise to practice an awareness of this process:
- Pick a topic that you are ready to move forward with in your life (relationship, career, home).
- Take 2 minutes to feel how you want it to feel. This outcome cannot be based on anyone else behaving differently or even doing anything!
- Take 3 minutes to write down on a piece of paper three or more ways that the outcome you want could occur.
That’s it. That is all you have to do for right now. By doing this exercise you are giving yourself the gift of staying in the choice phase longer than you normally would.
Take this topic and this exercise and do it for seven days in a row and see what happens.
We can literally guarantee that decisions you make will become easier, more certain, and lead to more satisfying results.