Looking Beyond …

thoughts and deliberations .. a theme is too restrictive

The Art of Decision Making

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I am just wondering, is it an art, or is it a science?  You see I have painstakingly applied both art and science to the decision-making that has confronted me over this week-end.  I’m not sure which ‘won out’,  but a decision has been made, thinking has been done, and so I am entitled to continue posting here without it being considered an act of procrastination.

On Thursday, I was offered an internship post that I had applied for at the very start of my active search to fill a year with experience designed to allow me a different career progression than that which seemed to be my fate.  I consider this to be victory for the more mature woman.   Such was my excitement that the same evening, when responding to an enquiry as to my well-being I found myself saying  “I’m doing great thank you”.  In my answer there was neither hesitation for thought, nor the backlash of an urge to withdraw such a rash statement which clearly runs the risk of turning out to be inaccurate.  Any one who knows me will recognise the significance of this…”I think I am alright” is about as good as a response that they might normally expect from me.  This on the best of days.

By Friday, the euphoria had subsided and I became acutely aware of the problem this offer had created.  I seem to have been accumulating options at a rate far greater than I ever intended.   I had imagined something a lot more linear and progressive than the avalanche of opportunity that has been hitting me as soon as I had taken the first steps to knock on a few doors.

Now, having narrowed the options to a choice between two internship offers, a volunteer training offer and a more complex proposal, it was clear that taking time to stop and think was no longer a nicety but a necessity.  And so, I set about the process.

Firstly the scientific, methodical approach:

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Armed with a pen and set of different coloured sticky notes, a print out of my ‘job tracking 2014’ spread sheet, my increasingly bulky black folder of collected interview notes and other analysis, I set to work in identifying the various advantages and disadvantages of each option. Using one colour for the four main types of experience I am looking for, another colour for the individual factors, suggestions and job roles that make up those four strands, a third colour for any additional positives and a fourth for identified negatives, the pros and cons combined to create a colourful display on my table top.   Despite a rigorous approach, this proved to be an exercise which could easily turn out manipulated results with factors being tailored according to the oscillating preferences of the moment.  However, after a couple of hours of carefully focussed analysis I viewed the outcome.  And guess what?  I was none the wiser.  Naturally if the decision was to be clear cut, the process would have been unnecessary.  As things stood, I merely reaffirmed my position that there was not a firm winner.  I added in the core values and purposes of the organisations and found them to be of equal merit.  I tried, and abandoned an attempt to somehow measure the size of each factor.  I rested and returned to the colourful array of notes.  They looked the same and no further interpretation jumped out at me.  I started to feel very stressed and questioned my ability to analyse.

And so, it was, that I moved on to a less measured approach to assist my decision making.  The process that can better be described as artistic:

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This comprised a long walk in the sunshine and sitting on a bench.  I was looking for signs and wonders.  The kind of message leaping out of the trees that would show me exactly what my destination was to be.  I prayed.  I listened out for a still small voice.  I explored thoughts and feelings and watched the world go by.  And guess what?  I was none the wiser.  Things continued to weigh pretty evenly.  I started to feel very stressed, and questioned my ability to understand my own instincts and passions.

However, I did finally reach a conclusion and it wasn’t one that I was particularly comfortable with for a while.  I had to return to my original objectives, and the whole purpose of putting aside this year ahead.  For me, this coming year is about discovering new skills and talents, progression, risk taking, and getting out of my comfort zone to discover what else life has in store for me.  And one of the options, perhaps the one that I really wanted to come out on top, was going to be just too comfortable and possibly too prescriptive to make it the right first move.  The need to keep a flexibility in what I am doing and the freedom to change direction as I go, is what counted in the end.

There are times when only a deadline will force me to make a decision.  Even self-imposed deadlines can be a pretty good thing for a poor decision maker.  But I am glad to have gone through both the structured and non-structured thinking process.  It brings a certain amount of security that whatever else, the path that follows has been well-considered.

And now, I am ready for a bit more of that care free, self-assured spirit that enables me to say “I’m doing great thank you”.  Only three days left as an ICT Network Manager.

 

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Author: HelenSaying

Dipped a toe in social media - now learning to swim. Otherwise engaged in mid life career change, but this is no crisis. Views all my own and of the moment.

4 thoughts on “The Art of Decision Making

  1. I once saw a career consultant (back in the days when I had aspirations and an urban lifestyle). She told me to spend some time applying for everything I was technically qualified for even if I wasn’t sure if I wanted it. Not sure if that’s helpful..

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    • I am not sure that I fancy that as an option. Pretty hard work trying to push yourself into a mold and seeing if it is possible to fit in. My approach is more about trying to find what shape I actually am before I start squeezing into a mold again. Did you try the suggestion, and was it helpful for you?

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  2. I think making the decision to leave a job is sometimes just as hard as the “what shall I do next?” one. When I graduated I often joked that I needed a big hand to come out of the clouds like the old Lottery advert and point me in the direction of my next job or what I should do next.

    When Our Sidekick came to stay with us at first we had a week’s holiday booked and were going up to The Lakes. My Mum and Dad looked after him while we were away. One of the days we were there we went to Wast Water, it’s up this country lane which turns into a dead end other than a B&B and a few houses. Something being there where there was no traffic and no phone signal I got out the car and looked at the hills and the water and just knew right in the middle of my chest near my heart that Our Sidekick had to stay.

    When I was praying over whether to leave my job or not, I’d had a meeting with my manager on the Thursday and stood in church on the Sunday and similarly the word “leave” just kept coming to mind. I went into work on the Monday and handed in my notice and to be honest best thing I did. It was terrifying taking that step out the boat and deciding that was what I needed to do but that step and all the bits that went with it showed me how God provides when we need it, in whatever form that is.

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