What Was I Thinking? Insights When Decisions Need Unwinding

Have you ever awaken suddenly in the middle of the night with that gnawing, panicky feeling that a decision you made recently was totally the wrong way to go?

Whether personal or business, many of us experience those very unsettling moments of second-guessing our decisions. We ask ourselves questions like:

  • How did I choose to take that course of action?
  • Why didn’t I see then what seems obvious to me now?
  • And what can I do now to unwind it if there’s a better path forward?

Since I am living this experience today (along with the accompanying sleep deprivation), I thought I’d share some insights gleaned in the light of day.

Don’t let your desire for forward progress sweep you down the wrong path.

    • We often want the solution we see in front of us to be the right one, especially if we’ve been frustrated or challenged by inaction up to that point.
    • It can be comforting to make a decision in order to feel SOME momentum – but we also need to be willing to slow down the decision-making process to ensure we’re headed down the right road.

Acknowledge your instincts and gut feelings even before you can put words to them.

    • Some of us Thinkers (in the Myers Briggs Type Inventory frame of reference) prefer to make decisions based almost solely on rationale, objective data or criteria.
    • Balance is key. We shouldn’t ignore or discount the feelings of ‘maybe not’ or ‘hold on’ that our internal emotional selves may be whispering. It’s important to hear and value that quiet inner voice — or risk having it scream us awake at 2 in the morning!

 Don’t beat yourself up for a lapse in judgment or making a rash decision.

    • It’s okay (and even imperative at times) to change our minds.  We need to rectify, accept the consequences and costs, and move forward.

 Appreciate and value your wisdom and insight, even if it comes late.

    • If we pay attention, the lessons potentially learned from our errors in judgment will almost always outweigh the personal and professional cost of backing up and remaking the decision.

Something I recently read hit home for me: Experience is a hard teacher – she gives the test first, and the lessons afterward. (Anonymous)

Elise Cary is a partner with PeopleResults. You can reach her at ecary@www.people-results.com or Twitter @EliseCary. Sign up to receive the PeopleResults blog at Current.