Why we procrastinate in Decision Making
DON’T DO IT!! Why we procrastinate in Decision Making…
We’ve all been there. We’ve had a really great idea. What we think is a really good decision and now we just aren’t getting on with it. It’s a pain, it’s frustrating and frankly it can drive one to drink…
So what the hell is going on? Why does this happen? This is all to do with our thinking centres not being totally aligned. We have three principal thinking styles that all need to be lined up for us to be really able to go for something. These are symbolised and even felt in particular centres of the body:
The Head: Our logic centre. This is where we carry out our cognitive processing. It’s where we can assess something or work out which is the best option. If something doesn’t “make sense” why would you do it?
The Heart: Our emotional centre. This is where we deal with our pure emotions but also what is important to us. This is where our beliefs and values hold sway. Why would you do something that wasn’t in line with your beliefs and values or was going to cause you upset?
The Gut: Our instinctive/survival thinking centre. This is where our instant fears take hold. This is a hangover from having to survive on the prehistoric plain. The one who first saw the twitch of the grass that might mean a sabre-toothed tiger, was the one who survived. Think about it, why would you attempt something that was potentially going to do you harm?
Let’s look at three very common phrases that we all use.
“This doesn’t make sense to me.” Clearly this is the logic centre saying that whatever it is does not compute. Is there another way of doing it? What do you need to change?
“My heart isn’t really in this.” There is something about this that does not appeal to your values and beliefs. You don’t “want” it!
“I’m not feeling good about this.” Something here is setting off the alarm bells from a previous experience. What we need to check is that the experience and feelings are relevant to the current situation. Sometimes the unconscious isn’t that clever at the connections it makes between the present and previous events.
So, we have three thinking styles. All of them are programmed to help you survive and prosper.
Take note of that last bit. This is an important point to understand. Your body’s thinking system is programmed to protect you and do the right thing for you. Every thought is well intended for yourself! So if you are stopping yourself from doing something there is a reason that is happening. Some part of you “believes” that stopping you from acting in this way is the right thing to do. If we are going to understand why, we have to actually get in tune with ourselves and understand what is going on.
So here’s a quick exercise which is a version of something that Robert Dilts, the NLP expert, was looking at in the early years of this century. When we are procrastinating about something it means that one of our thought centres is not lined up with what you are trying to do. It means some part of you doesn’t really believe in this activity.
What we need to do is track down which one and ask it why! Now, for those of you who are a bit more logical and prone to a more scientific style of thinking, I need you to just go with this for a moment. We are trying to speak and communicate with the sub-conscious part of the brain, not the cognitive. This will be easier to do when you are relaxed and at ease. So, a nice hot bath, a walk in the open air, being chilled out and relaxed or what ever it takes (and I don’t mean artificial stimulants!)
- Put your hand in turn on your head, heart, gut and complete steps 2-4.
- Ask yourself:“How much do you (head, heart or gut) agree on a scale of 1-10 with (whatever you are trying to do)”
- Take the first answer that comes to you! Don’t adjust it or do anything to it. You may be surprised by the answer you get…
- Thank your (head, heart or gut) and now ask it to tell you why it gave you that score.
- Do steps 1-3 for all three centres. What you may find is that one of the scores is significantly different from the others. This is where your block is! So now we need to get interested in why and investigate.
- Go back to whichever centre it is that is out of alignment and ask what it needs to know in order to feel better about it. Again, it is really important to listen to the first answer that you get. Don’t try and get it to go all the way up to the top score, but just enough for it to allow you to engage with the task. Listen to the answers you get and try and have a conversation with yourself about it. You may need to negotiate. Don’t allow one part of you to ridicule another. This is all your thinking and you need to be listening to it.
Whatever happens here you are going to learn some pretty important stuff about yourself. You are gaining more understanding about yourself and how you think which is always good.
How does this fit into decision making? Well, if you can’t actually move to action, then whatever decisions you make are without value. You need to check that the options for your decision are ones that you can totally buy into.
See my website for more details of my “Stop, Think, Act…” decision making process..
Happy Decision Making!!