Did you know that some experts estimate we make up to 35,000 decisions in a single day? An exhausting number! And if you think by avoiding a decision you can shrink that number, think again. By deciding not to decide, you have made a decision. If we are faced with that many decisions, it seems a positive, proactive, necessary step for us all is to learn a reliable tool to make regret-free decisions.
Now, a very positive side of the potentially paralyzing giant number of daily decisions is that we live in a land and a time where we have choices. Not every generation or nation can say that. So, I thank God for my choices! But as a healthcare professional I do see the pain that indecision, or poor decisions, can inflict on peoples’ lives. Physical and emotional pain.
Physical And Emotional Effects
Psychology Today explains that indecision can stem from anxiety or the fear of making the wrong decision. People “worry about making a mistake and feeling guilty, remiss, exposed, or ignorant”.
That worry can cause emotional pain, which can eventually be expressed as physical pain. Patients of mine often seek out physical therapy to rid their life of physical pain, but when we dig into the root cause of say, head or neck pain, we can arrive at emotional pain or a mental roadblock, like worry.
You may not have grown up with a healthy model for decision-making. And maybe you don’t even realize you’re missing a method for deciding your yes’s and your no’s. But that’s okay. You can change that for the positive, today.
To avoid emotional and physical pain and to help all of us tackle the constant flow of decisions, I’ve developed a helpful, three-step tool. I call it O-C-A. Options-Choice-Action. When you’re faced with a decision, you can rely on these steps to help you arrive at a healthy choice and avoid the post-decision worry.
O = Options
You have options. Even in the worst circumstances you have options.
A good first step is to get those options written down. Take a few minutes to brainstorm a list of options in a journal or a note on your phone. Don’t edit your list. Be specific. Anything goes at this point. Gathering input from wise friends or professionals is a great way to broaden your scope of options. This step creates two benefits: this process shines a little light into the seeming darkness, and it practically generates some solutions or options to consider for this decision.
If you aren’t currently faced with a decision that causes stress in your life, you can reflect on a past decision and use this process to see if you could have improved your decision-making and the outcome. We are not striving for perfection here–you are learning a tool to improve your daily life.
C = Choice
In every situation you have a choice. Based on your short and long-term goals, what will you choose? What is best? Using your list of options, divide those options into short-term and long-term options, and then into healthy and unhealthy options to help you make your choice.
Write down what makes the top choice the best. Journal a bit about “why” this choice is the best choice to meet your short and long term goals, given the information and resources available to you.
A = Action
Once you’ve thought through your Options and sorted through your Choices you are ready to take Action. Remember, no decision is a decision. If you choose to put-off or avoid a decision, you are still choosing. To experience peace, joy, and your purpose in life, take charge of your choices and choose your action. There is little power and a lot of sorrow in choosing to be a victim. You make the choice. Choose your action.
I recently interviewed one of my patients, Brenda, about her “new life” using O-C-A. Brenda was raised in a family that told her what to do. She did not realize she had options.
This style of parenting kept Brenda from pursuing a dream of becoming a Forest Ranger. When the option of attending college to pursue this opportunity was presented to her, Brenda’s folks said “no”. And that was that.
Today, O-C-A shows Brenda how to avoid the physical and emotional pain from those types of decisions. Brenda’s neck and shoulder pain was relieved as this emotional and physical pain was healed.
Who Benefits From O-C-A
O-C-A can be taught to children and used by all of us at any age. It’s never too late to start. If you’re 55+ and feel that you’ve been “handed” this life you didn’t choose, start the O-C-A process. If you’re still breathing, God isn’t done with you yet!
It’s also wise to work with a professional to help sort through the decades of wounds, lies, pain, choices, shattered dreams, and failed outcomes.
I thank God that I have choice and you have choice. And that God guides my choices if I will only ask.
If you want to explore this topic further, I’d love to help you—in person or through phone or online. Sign up for a free consultation, right here. And live each day in joy and vibrant health!
But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”
— Joshua 24:15 NLT