making decisions…. by the clock or the calendar?

We make a ton of decisions every day, really, every hour. We decide when to get up, whether to hit the snooze, what to wear, what to eat, how many e mails and blogs to read before work, and the list goes on. You get the idea. Most of these daily decisions don’t rock our world, or have that kind of potential. They just aren’t big enough decisions. We handle them quickly with little effort.

Then there are the Big Decisions. It’s hard to say when you cross the line into Big Decision territory, but it’s when you feel the stress build as you think about making that difficult choice. You get sweaty palms and armpits, tense muscles, and “that” look in your eyes. More time and energy not already spoken for through ongoing responsibilities (and maybe even some of those, too) are magnetically devoted to the decision process. You find yourself thinking about it on the drive home, at lunch, lying in bed trying to fall asleep at night, waking early against your own wishes… it’s big, and you want to just be done with it and make the darn decision already.

So often we unwittingly hurry the process, out of nervousness or discomfort with the tension. And so often, the passage of time reveals you might have made a better decision. This isn’t always the case to be sure, but I’m betting all of us have a memory or two of decisions we made and later regretted. We’ll never be perfect, and the point of this post isn’t to add heaviness; it’s to offer some encouragement for the Next Big Decision.

I’ve observed from my own life and the lives of others I’ve watched that we human types often make calendar decisions by the clock. What I mean by that is we rush into Big Decisions that will affect our lives for years (what I call calendar decisions), and most of the time, we don’t have to rush. Rarely is anyone is demanding an answer by midnight tonight. We think in the framework of hours or even minutes (clock decision making) as our deadline to wrap it all up, when perhaps we can and should take a longer time to make the Big Decision.(Sometimes we make clock decisions by the calendar, but that sounds like a different post.)

Clock decision making is all good for clock decisions. But for calendar decisions, we need a calendar decision making process. Here are a few suggestions to help get you ready for the Next Big Decision.

1) Ask, “What is my real deadline?” If it’s not as long as you’d like it to be, you could ask that other party for an extension. All they can say is no, and they may say yes. Who knows?

2) Ask, “Who would be good to talk this over with?” You know what they say about the two heads thing. (Just be sure the second head is wiser than you.)

3) With a humble and open heart, pray and ask God to show you some definitive signs to help you out. This step doesn’t work if you are looking for confirmation for an already made decision and you’re trying to spiritualize the deal. We can be pretty good at justifying what we want to do.

Hey, the Next Big Decision will still be big, but perhaps these encouraging suggestions will help you slow down a bit and help you make it a Good Decision.

Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.

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