The Easiest Decision-Making Tool

Decision-making is one of my great interests. I even teach an online class on it here. Not surprisingly, the reason why I got into this was because I myself struggled with making decisions and I really, really wanted to make the right ones, particularly in regards to important life decisions such as who I married and my life career.

Recently though, I’ve been changing a bit in my outlook on decision-making. I got into decision-making strategies and processes because I put great weight on each big decision I made. It was life or death if I made a right or wrong decision. I’m coming to learn that I can be a little less serious with myself. Not to say that who I chose to marry wasn’t important. But my life destiny isn’t written on a stone tablet somewhere. I get to choose my own life destiny.

We all get to create how our lives unfold and what becomes of us. At the same time, our intrinsic value is not dependent upon the lives we create. That intrinsic value was given to us when were born and will never be taken from us. We have a false belief that more success, money, power, beauty, intelligence, you name it, may give us more value but that is a lie we humans tell and perpetuate. It’s a lie that leads us to live lives of constant striving and dissatisfaction with ourselves.

We are already whole, complete and perfect right now.

So…what’s the point of our lives then? Why should I set goals and try to achieve them? Why should I go for my dreams? And the answer is this: simply because you want to. Because it fun to do, like it’s fun to play a game and win some hands. Those winning hands have nothing, absolutely nothing to do with your worth and value. It’s just fun to play. Life is given to us as a gift, for us to simply enjoy and play with.

That said though, we still want to be good stewards of our lives. But this time, it’s for a different reason. It is not because we have this burden of creating a life worthy of respect and approval or otherwise, we will be punished or sent to eternal damnation. Rather, we derive joy from making things that are aligned with our life visions. All of us have tasted this joy and satisfaction from creating a delicious meal, writing a really good essay, or making a beautiful scarf. The process of bringing something imagined to life is a glorious feeling.

This is a large preface to what I intended this post to be about originally, which is the easiest decision-making tool I have learned. I will share it with you now. Knowing your life vision and what you want to create, ask yourself this one question with every difficult decision you are trying to make: What’s the single most important thing for me in regards to this situation?

As an example, when I was appointed to my current church in San Diego, I had the option of living in the church parsonage versus finding a place on my own and receiving a housing stipend. The parsonage is near the church but not in the best area and the design of the parsonage is not my preferred style. The latter may not seem like a big deal to many people but it’s a HUGE deal to me. As a Type Four on the Enneagram, I am very affected by my environment and aesthetics. There were a lot of factors that made this decision very difficult for me and my family. While we could choose a home and neighborhood more visually aligned with my preferences, it would be more costly for the church and would require a commute. If I chose the parsonage, it would mean that the church would have to kick out the current tenants who actually did really like the house (with a 90 day notice, of course).

All of these competing factors and desires made this decision-making process foggy and stressful. So ultimately, I asked myself: What is the single most important thing in your life in regards to this situation? The single longing that trumps everything else? And I immediately identified one thing: efficiency. Living next the church would mean I wouldn’t spend any time commuting. We would walk our son to school as his preschool is at our church, it would mean that we could spend more time together as a family and it would make me a better minister. As a young mom with a full time job, simplicity and efficiency are the most important things in my life right now. This may not be the case five years from now but it is right now.

And voilà, the clouds cleared out and my answer came into focus. I have not looked back or regretted my decision once. Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t look at gorgeous craftmans in Mission Hills or cool coffee shops in North Park wistfully. I do. But that wistfulness is grounded by my ultimate priority. And, I nourish those desires in other ways, by visiting those areas on my days off, by decorating my house fastidiously to my liking, etc. Rarely is something a “perfect fit.” There is always going to be something we are not completely satisfied with. The way to figure out what things are worth sacrificing is to figure out the single most important thing for us because while we can’t have everything, we can have that single most important thing.

I hope this was helpful to you all. Try this tool in your life and let me know how it goes. You can email me or write a response below. I am not able to respond to all of the emails I receive but I do read all of them and I cherish every single one.