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Please note that Current of Life was previously published under the title: Living Your Potential

Living Your Potential

How Do You Decide?

Decisions, Decisions

When I was growing up and having a difficult time making a decision, my father would tell me about the proverbial horse that starved to death while deciding between two bails of hay.  This story has its origins in a similar tale told by Aristotle in which a man who has access to both food and drink remains unmoved because he is as hungry as he is thirsty.  When faced with what we perceive as equivalent choices, the result can be a state of terminal indecision. 

Dealing with Daily Dilemmas

Learning to become more decisive helps diffuse that state of overwhelm we’ve been discussing in the last few issues.  Here are a few tips to help you decide where to invest your time and energy over the course of a given day:

Make intuitive decisions.  This means factor in your intellect and your gut.  Productivity expert, David Allen, says that after all your organizational systems are in place, Getting Things Done (the name of his book) comes down to making intuitive judgments throughout the day.  To do this, you must quickly assess factors such as the setting or context in which you find yourself, the relative priority, your energy level, as well as the available window of time. (1)

First go wide, then bring it in.  Using the metaphor of a movie camera, first take the wide shot, then go for the close-up.  The wide shot means asking, "What will matter 1 week from now?  1 month from now?  1 year from now?"  Once you have this perspective, you can determine the priority at hand.  Now try focusing only on that priority for 30 minutes and say, “I have nowhere else I need to be.” 

Move your body.  If you are starting to feel like that locked up horse, leave the stable!  Even if this only means getting out of your chair and away from your desk for five minutes, it can be extremely effective.  Just stand up, stretch, move, and breathe.  Do whatever is necessary to shake that locked up feeling out of your body.  When you return to your desk, clarity may be waiting for you.

Choose and go. Sometimes no one choice emerges as better than the other.  If this is the case, simply remind yourself to “Choose and go.”  Then do it!

Strengthen Your Decision-Making Muscle

Rather than being like the horse in the stall mesmerized by two bails of hay, see if you can adopt the attitude of the wild horse.  They may lose their way at times, but then go with their instincts, change their direction, and keep moving. 

 “We are given one life, and the decision is ours
whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind,
or whether to act, and in acting, to live.” 
 — Omar Nelson Bradley

Here's to you,
Ginny's signature

(1) David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, (New York, NY, Penguin Group, 2001), pages 192-200.

© 2006, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to

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