Decision Making Bells & Whistles

How Job-shadowing & Chocolate Self-rewards helped two people with decision making

job shadowing decision making chocolate rewardsDecisions: Some are easy, others are not.

When a decision is tough, what criteria goes into choosing? This is a recurring topic with my clients.

Business leaders generally have full schedules. Flexible scheduling is often deemed a benefit, but this particular benefit can actually make decision making more complex than when schedules are firm. Not good or bad, just something noticeable. Transitions add additional layers to consider.

In all decisions, it’s helpful to be clear on values and make decisions that are rooted in your values. Decisions are obviously easier to make when one choice is of value and another is not. Decisions can be less of a breeze when both choices are within your values.

Isabelle, a private client, is in the midst of a career transition and isn’t exactly sure what she wants. A couple years ago she made a conscious choice to return to her hometown region, so she could spend time with her mother whose health was failing. The moving part of her decision was easy. She was very clear about what she wanted.

Finding a job in her area of expertise, in a much smaller town, became a seemingly endless endeavor. So she took a job doing something she loved personally, but didn’t know much about professionally. It was a huge pay cut to start over, but she dove in, and she found she really enjoyed working in the new area and relished in the required learning. Now again she’s decided to move on. This time she’s going from that particular organization, and while she would like to continue in that field, she’s pondering whether to return to her previous line of work. However, to her surprise, she was offered an opportunity to manage a business and lead its team of employees. Change. It’s full of surprises!

Based on her value of creativity, leadership and learning, she decided to explore the unexpected management opportunity. Two days of job-shadowing and she’s intrigued.

Love that word intrigued.

The job offers a higher salary. This is important. There are no red flags so far. She will job shadow again and meet with key employees today and tomorrow. She’s considering living arrangements as the job requires relocation. She was planning to relocate, but not to this particular city. She’s open-minded about the possibilities.

This client demonstrates a lovely example facing the many decisions necessary in moving forward. At each step, she gathers and gains important new information. The information influences her thinking and makes possible the next important small decision, which of course plays into the bigger decisions at hand. Her process continues and she’s conscious of the process.

This reminds me of a story I read over the weekend about a man who enrolled in graduate school while working full time in his profession. Classes met two nights a week and on class days he found he was fighting with himself about going. He was tired at the end of his work day and didn’t want to go the extra mile — even though he wanted the degree. A typical values struggle.

This man decided that to get himself in the habit of going to night school, he would break the process of getting there into steps and reward himself for each action. Step one: Go to the train station. Reward: A bite of chocolate. Step two: Transfer and get on the next train. Reward: A bite of chocolate. Step three: Walk three blocks to class. Reward: A bite of chocolate.

The man loved chocolate but rarely allowed himself to indulge, making this reward quite meaningful. After a few weeks of this action/reward practice, night school attendance became a habit and he no longer needed to provide chocolate along the way.

Decisions are key. We are hard wired to respond to rewards. If you want to create new habits, pay attention to how you’re rewarding yourself. If you’re struggling, chances are, your rewards are too few and far between. May want to make a decision to bring in some bells and whistles, and make sure to notice as you begin soaring.