Making Clean Decisions


Decision-making can be challenging in a world where all the political, economic and social structures are crumbling and there are so many options available. Plus, it’s hard to make good decisions without inner power and the tendency to question them…that feels unsatisfying and creates an infinite loop of self-doubt.

What are Clean Decisions?

Clean decisions are those made with the least amount of “dirt” or “muddiness” from internal and external environments. There is also an understanding that each decision will create outcomes that solve some problems and create some opportunities, but “not more than that.”

The “dirt” includes: assumptions, judgements, expectations, emotions such as fear of failure or fear of consequences), time pressure, advice, incorrect information, criticisms and the like.

The “not more than that” means that one decision may not solve or create everything you expect it to solve or create. For ex: if you want to solve internal chaos about whether or not to accept a new job, you make a decision using whichever criteria you wish, and know that you’ll either move forward with that job or not. The decision won’t solve the problem of feeling secure, even if that’s one of your criteria, because security comes from within not without (even though we’re socialized to believe everything we need comes from the external world). So a decision about a job will get you a job (or not), but it won’t necessarily make you feel secure even if you think it will.

It’s important to be able to distinguish between what you say/think/hope you want and what you need.

What are “Dirty” Decisions?

Dirty decisions are those made with an infusion of all sorts of wishes, expectations, assumptions, judgements, emotional intensity, conflicting advice and when you want the decision to serve more than what it can.

For ex, a dirty decision about a job would be to assume that you’ll be treated with respect, you’ll expect to get promoted when you perform well, the team culture will be fair, fun and fast, you’ll feel confident about learning new skills, you’ll be in totally sync with your boss, you’ll never encounter any really big problems, it’ll be a great step toward your next career step and you’ll meet the partner of your dreams there (if you’re not already married, ahem).

Do you get the idea?

Tips for Clean Decision Making

    1. Check your assumptions (esp to make sure you’re using human-centric and not legacy industrial model assumptions)
    2. Remome judgements
    3. Trust yourself and if you don’t, assess that before making any decision
    4. Use various perspectives such as the street and Acropolis levels, beginner’s mind, from each stakeholder’s view, as if you were the problem/challenge/opportunity
    5. Get to silence to be able to contemplate; if you’re feeling anxious or chaotic about the decision, find ways to become calm before you make a decision. Try meditating, yoga or tai chi, walking or any exercise, doodling or drawing, listening to music or a metronome, playing with kitty or anything that works for you!
    6. Access the internal and external info you need: internal info includes how you think and feel (as well as judge, assume, hope, wish, expect, etc) and external info is data. As for advice, consider keeping that to a minimum as most people just infuse their own assumptions and judgements when helping others and that makes things more complicated
    7. Consider the consequences — which might they be? can you accept them? what can you think/feel/do to accept them?
    8. Consider any obstacles or objections to sticking to your decision once you’ve made it
    9. Make a decision and invest in the decision (vs undermine it with doubt)
    10. Stick to your decision until you come across new internal or external information that merits a re-assessment

Take care with decision making — they shape your life in profound ways.

[Image from Freepik]