Sometimes these tasks come easily and without much issue. At other times and, likely depending on the context, these tasks can become overwhelming, unbearable, or just annoying, often leading to avoidance and ambivalence.
Take wellness, nutrition, and exercise as an example. We are inundated with diet plans, workout guides, the latest food tracking app, Instagram accounts devoted to building motivation, and the latest and greatest way to improve our health. We know we need to eat, sleep, and move well in order to be well. And yet we often still find that actually making the healthy decision is just too much. We may respond with avoidance (ignoring our body’s cues and requests for healthy food and rest, canceling that gym membership, telling ourselves that eating well starts tomorrow) or ambivalence (self-talk that says it doesn’t matter that much, believing we have no control, passively engaging in a cycle of so-so workouts followed by inaction).
We can gain insight into and begin to change our patterns of avoidance and ambivalence by understanding how decisions are actually made. There are three stages to the decision-making process, no matter the context of a decision. We all approach these three stages in different ways and have our own strong spots and blind spots within them. By understanding the objective framework for making decisions, we can increase our awareness of where we are shining and where we get stuck.
1. Gather Information
The first stage (Attending) is about information gathering. When we are attending to information, we are collecting details and exploring options and ideas. We are looking to ensure we have the information needed to make well-informed decisions and that we have explored all possibilities and tapped into the creative thinking side of our brain.
2. Deliberate Options
The second stage (Intending) is about weighing and evaluating options, assigning value, and actually making and backing up our decisions. When we are setting our intentions, we are deciding what we’re willing to stand behind, and what course of action is most in line with our personal mission and values.
3. Take Action
The third stage (Committing) is about actually implementing our decisions. When we are committing to a decision, we are both changing the pace of our decision in the moment (acting quickly, whether positively seizing opportunity or negatively acting impulsively) and acting either in accordance with or contrary to our long-term goals and visions for the future.
If we can break down what’s happening for us within each stage, we can understand what’s causing our pattern of avoidance and/or ambivalence. Increasing our awareness of how we make decisions can then lead to making more balanced, informed, values-driven actions.
If you are in Chicago and find yourself stuck in your decision-making process regarding wellness, join me for a workshop, Satiate Your F**k Its!, on June 6th, 2018. Myself and Laura Folkes, a certified holistic health coach, will be talking about the “f-it” mentality around food and will break down these decision-making stages to help you understand where you’re getting stuck.
3 Secrets to Ending Unhealthy Decisions and Improving Your Health