When it comes to making decisions, it’s important to choose the right tool for the job. Choosing which socks to buy doesn’t require a massive quantitative analysis in Excel, and choosing a life partner is probably not something you decided with a coin flip.
In the Decision Toolbox series, we’ll talk about different approaches to decision making, including classics like “pros and cons” best articulated by Benjamin Franklin https://www.smartdraw.com/collaboration/making-decisions-ben-franklin.htm.
In my experience, Pros and Cons can only take you so far. For example how do we value enjoying a job more vs. feeling more financially secure? As decisions become more complex, we tend to need less logic and more wisdom.
By wisdom I mean the thing we access when we consult with our grandmother about a relationship, or when we sit down with an experienced doctor to talk about a health issue. It’s about reflecting on the kind of life we want and how that impacts the particular issue at hand.
Yes it can be very difficult to think big picture when we’re in the middle of a difficult choice. We’re caught in our emotions, evaluating dozens of competing priorities, and every voice in our head is telling us something different. We need a technique for cutting through the clutter and accessing the wisdom within us. How?
Life coaches sometimes use a reflection called “Meet your captain”. A friend of mine writes himself a letter from the Buddha. My personal favorite is called the “Future Self” meditation, best illustrated by Tara Brach.
By the way, I absolutely love Tara Brach! Here's a picture from earlier this year.
Back to the technique - in this simple 7 minute meditation, Tara invites you to think about a future or best self – the person you are evolving towards. And then asking that person advice. What’s fascinating is how such a reflection helps you cut out the non-essential, and really focus on the kind of person you want to be.
What I love most about this meditation is that not only is it effective for making a decision you are facing right now…it trains a wiser voice in your head. Over time, the more you consult this future self, the more inner wisdom you will cultivate. Use it often!
And if you don’t feel like taking the time for the meditation right now, perhaps this text message my wife sent a friend will inspire you:
“Ask Yoda Dave his thoughts. The Dave on his porch, reminiscing over the recent visit from his grandkids, holding his wife’s hand, appreciating the full moon. That Dave. What advice does he have for you?”
That's the perspective we need to tap into to keep on Upwarding.