Get more done.

By David Joel Miller.

Ways to be more productive.

Garden in a boat.

Get More Done.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Would you like to get more done?

Do you feel like you are having difficulty being productive?

Here are some simple tips to improve your productivity and help you get more done each and every day. Try introducing some of these ideas, one by one and see if your productivity doesn’t increase.

Maintain a healthy blood sugar – energy level.

Your brain burns a lot of calories.  By some estimates up to 25% of all the calories, you will use every day are burned in your brain. Not having enough fuel on board reduces your ability to do work. Lack of blood sugar results in fuzzy headed thinking.

Kids who skip breakfast do more poorly in school.  Adults who don’t eat something early will find that their will suffer.  Start your day off with a healthy breakfast.  Being productive requires energy for both your brain and your body.

Get enough sleep.

Most people become chronically sleep deprived.  You may be able to get by on reduce sleep for a single night, or even a couple of nights.  But if you continue to work with less than enough sleep, your productivity will decline.  Chronically cutting your sleep short is not a way to improve your productivity.

Eat healthy.

Getting things done requires maintaining your body.  It is not enough to simply take in calories.  Those calories need to include nutrients necessary to maintain health.  Many people’s diets are high in sugar, fat and low nutrient ingredients.

Get exercise. Move around.

Make sure you get plenty of exercise.  Take frequent breaks.  Get up and move around.  Staying in one position too long can wear you out.  Today more and more people work at desks jobs, working with papers, computers, and ideas.  The result of this inactivity is a body that can’t support the brain that is doing so much of your work.

Eliminate what distracts you.

Distractions are the chief enemy of productivity.  Try to eliminate the distractions in your environment.  Close unneeded Internet windows.  If possible, use music or white noise to eliminate the distraction of conversations or other noises in your environment.  Cut down on the need to attend to things other than your main task at hand.

Practice focusing.

Focusing, paying attention, is a skill that needs to be practiced.  Young children rarely have good attention skills.  The way those attention paying skills develop is by practice.  Work on improving your ability to pay attention.  Notice when your mind is wondering and quickly bring it back to the thing you need to attend to.

Pursue your passions. What interests you?

The majority of all learning is emotional, not intellectual.  You learn things that interest you.  Pursue your passions.  Think about the things that interest you and incorporate those into your work. Think about learning a new skill, something that might excite you.

Take breaks. Chunk work.

Productivity declines the longer you stay on a given task.  Break time-consuming projects up into smaller chunks.  Take short breaks between each chunk. Early in the day, you’re likely to be able to do longer periods of work on a particular project.  As the day progresses you may need to take more frequent breaks or switch to other tasks.

Recharge your batteries. What fills you up mentally?

Productive people invest some time in recharging their batteries. Use your time off, your breaks and lunch to do good self-care. Read something for fun, listen to your favorite music, make time to talk to friends and coworkers.

For the big projects, plan, prioritize and break up.

Some projects can be overwhelming.  Starting off not knowing where you’re going can result in poor productivity.  For large projects start by developing a plan.  What will need to be done first, second and so on?  Break large elements down into smaller pieces.  It helps to estimate how much time each part will take.  Pay attention to things you need to complete before you can start the next phase.

Have a clear picture of the desired outcome.

A lot of effort can be wasted when you are not sure what you are trying to accomplish.  Write out some goals for the project you are working on.  It helps to run these goals by your boss or your customer.  You have not accomplished much if you created something that doesn’t meet another’s needs.  You will work a lot more efficiently if you have a clear definition of what you are trying to accomplish.

Get the help you need.

Rather than trying to do everything yourself, identify those things where you could use others expert help.  Few people are skilled at everything.  It is a lot more efficient to get help from people who have expertise in areas where you are less skilled.

Try these tips for improved productivity.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Advertisements

What is Amotivational Syndrome?

By David Joel Miller.

Have you lost your drive or your desire to do something?

unmotivated

Low Motivation.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Amotivational Syndrome is often connected with the smoking of marijuana.  This is something quite different from what we see in depression.  In depression, people lose the desire to do things they use to make them happy.  We call that loss of pleasure anhedonia.

In Amotivational Syndrome people seem to spend more time looking inward and contemplating things and less time actively doing them.  This syndrome was originally recognized in younger, marijuana smokers who were heavier daily users.

Does marijuana smoking cause loss of motivation?

Things that are, or were, associated with Amotivational Syndrome include the development of apathy and loss of ambition.  Heavy smokers just seem to become indifferent and stop caring about anything except smoking.  They seem to have fewer goals and decreased effectiveness.  Problems with attention and concentration have also been attributed to heavy marijuana smoking and Amotivational Syndrome.

Many of these characteristics are seen in daily, heavy, marijuana smokers.  What is unclear is whether the marijuana smoking causes this cluster of symptoms or whether those people who are low in motivation like to smoke marijuana.  At one point it was commonly accepted that some marijuana smokers are likely to suffer from Amotivational Syndrome.

Not all marijuana smokers are low in motivation.

Because of the many famous, popular people, who have been reported to be regular marijuana smokers, the connection between smoking marijuana and low motivation has come into question. It is unclear how common this condition is, or even if this is a valid syndrome.  Amotivational Syndrome has not been reported in countries other than the United States.  There’s some question whether Amotivational Syndrome is, in fact, a cultural rather than a mental condition.

Animals on marijuana don’t lose motivation.

Laboratory studies of both humans and animals have not found evidence of the Amotivational Syndrome for those using marijuana.  Amotivational Syndrome or loss of goals and direction has been found in many groups of young people who are not using marijuana on a regular basis.  This has led some writers to conclude that Amotivational Syndrome is a personality characteristic rather than the result of smoking marijuana.  It may be that those people with low motivation are attracted to using marijuana and other intoxicating substances.

One other possibility that has been suggested is that those people who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol or other substances may have low motivations to do anything while under the influence.  What we may be seeing in those people who were described as having Amotivational Syndrome may, in fact, be the effects of intoxication and withdrawal from marijuana or other substances.

As with the other things we are calling a mental illness or symptoms of a mental illness Amotivational Syndrome would need to interfere with your ability to work or go to school, your relationships, your enjoyable activities or cause you personal distress for it to be the focus of clinical attention. Otherwise, while you may have lost some motivation you will not be identified as someone needing clinical assistance.  If the only time you have low motivation is when you are under the influence of marijuana or another drug this would be diagnosed as drug intoxication.

For more on this and related topics see the other posts on counselorssoapbox.com under        Drug Use, Abuse, and Addiction

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Boost your willpower.

By David Joel Miller.

Simple ways to increase your willpower.

Willpower and Temptation

Boost your willpower
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Willpower, both the making yourself do unpleasant things and the “won’t power” type where you have to pass up things that might not be good for you, are often in short supply. Some people just seem to have plenty of willpower and other people are constantly running out.

Whatever supply of willpower you have, it seems to be at its peak in the early part of the day and then declines as the day moves on. Start your day with a good supply and you will get a lot more go out of your willpower. Here are some ways to recharge that willpower supply of yours.

Get more sleep for more willpower.

Lack of sleep, an adequate amount, can cause all sorts of problems. When you are tired you do not feel like doing things, particularly things that will require a lot of willpower. People who get enough sleep appear to have an extra dose of willpower as a result of that dose of sleep.

Sleep is the “low hanging” fruit of self-care. Add in a healthy diet, some exercise and some emotionally healthy things and your willpower is bound to expand.

Improve your support system and improve your willpower.

Having people on your side helps stretch your willpower. People who support you can encourage you to do the hard things that require more willpower. They can also support you in avoiding those things that are not healthy. People who have lots of friends are less troubled about willpower than those who have few friends.

Make sure these friends are positive. Remember that resisting peer pressure thing? Well, resisting peer pressure uses up tons of willpower. Having good friends that support you in doing the right thing will get you extra miles out of your existing willpower.

Manage your blood sugar to manage willpower.

Low blood sugar makes you feel tired and irritable. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining proper blood sugar can both help you have the energy to do the hard stuff. Not feeling out of sorts can also help you avoid the arguments and conflicts that come more frequently when you are low on brain fuel.

Careful though, over the long-term, high blood sugars, the kind that can lead to or be the result of diabetes, can cause you to just not want to do anything. Not sure? Talk to your doctor about your blood sugar. Do not wait until your body is totally out of go to get that diabetes diagnosis. Knowledge is power, especially in the health area.

Create a schedule – making choices uses up willpower.

People report that they have less difficulty with willpower early in the day. The first few things go well. But as you do more and more your willpower gets used up. Each time you have to make another decision you use some more of that precious willpower.

Start your day with a lot of those willpower-sapping decisions already done. End your day by making a list of the things you are going to need to do tomorrow. Each successive act you take needs less willpower as you just keep working your way down the list.

Establish routines to maximize willpower.

Routines become automatic default settings in your brain. If you do things in a certain order, that takes the pressure off you to decide what to do first, second and so on. Use your daily outline as a tool to propel you through the rest of the day’s activities without having to think each choice through all over again.

Write out your goals and look at this list often.

Out of sight out of mind especially applies to things that are harder to do. Make a written list of goals. Reward yourself as you accomplish each goal on your list. Reminding yourself why you are doing things today that are hard to do because you are working towards a set goal, can make staying on task much easier.

Rearrange your environment to reduce temptations – people, places, and things.

Does it take willpower to stay focused? Reduce the distractions in your environment. Do not go to places where you will be tempted and then blame your fall on your lack of willpower. Bakeries are not places to stay on your diet and bars will not be good places to help you avoid drinking.

Do you get distracted by social media or videos? Close the windows, turn off the set and see how much less willpower it takes when you are in the place to do what needs doing.

If you slip do not stay down – the F&@*it’s.

A single slip in your willpower is not an excuse to say that you just “can’t” do something. Learn from that slip and make the changes you need to make in order to stay on track. Giving up after one set back is a way to shrink your willpower.

Break tasks up into manageable chunks.

Facing one huge task can overwhelm anyone’s store of willpower. Break that task up into small pieces. Need to write a report – make up a list of the steps and check one or two off each day. Over time you will make amazing progress.

Trying to improve your life? You can’t do everything in one day. Make a few small changes and then practice these over and over. Of course, if your life is way far out of control, like addiction or homelessness you may need to do some of the large work first.  Getting off drugs or finding a safe place to stay is the first job. Making more friends and eating healthy can wait till you’re off the drugs.

Those are some of the suggestions I have found that can help expand that most precious resource willpower. Have you found any other things that help you to have an adequate supply of willpower?

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Problems staying motivated?

By David Joel Miller

Do you keep running out of motivation?

Running out of motivation

Running out of motivation?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

At the beginning of a new project or a new relationship, we all think we have plenty of motivation. Down the road, the motivation runs out and the forward progress stops. Here are some reasons you may be short on motivation and ways to overcome those obstacles.

What is keeping you from staying motivated and how do you overcome these obstacles?

The task is bigger than you thought.

Ten minutes jobs often take all day. At the start, we think things will be easier than they really are. When launching out on a new endeavor spend some time planning all the parts and how long each one will take. Having a written plan can reveal some of the steps you are not thinking of and can help you get a more realistic idea of how long something will really take.

Doing one large task straight through may be more than your daily ration of motivation will cover. Try breaking the task up into “chunks” bit size portions. Do a small part of this larger task each day and make it a point to notice the progress you are making.

Underestimated the time needed to complete this project reduces motivation.

If you underestimate the number of steps involved in getting this project completed it is likely that your time element is way off. Having taken a closer look at the steps involved you can devise a more realistic plan.

Wearing yourself out reduces motivation.

Failure to do good self-care and reward yourself along the way can take all the joy out of moving towards your goal. Trying to do too much too quickly is a formula to use up all your motivation.

Try to work in bursts with frequent breaks or days off in-between.

Lack an essential skill interferes with your motivation.

Not having the needed skills makes everything you do harder. In life, as in business, we sometimes need to add more skills to our repertoire. Developing a needed skill can result in accomplishing more in less time.

When things are not working, your working harder will wear you out while accomplishing nothing. Do not try to push over a stone wall by pushing harder. Get a bigger bulldozer.

If you are short on motivation you may need to work on yourself.

If you have “anger issues” or suffer from depression, an unhappy relationship, substance abuse, or another personal problem you need to get help for these issues.

Take a good look at yourself and you may see it is those personal issues that you have avoided working on that are interfering with your progress. Remove those obstacles and your motivation can spring back.

Develop the most essential tool for very job – you.

It is hard to stay motivated if you are working now for something later.

It is hard to stay motivated now when all the payoffs are way off in the distance. Set small goals along the way and reward yourself as you reach them. Breaking up the task into its elements makes it more manageable and giving yourself small rewards along the way keeps you motivated.

You won’t stay motivated if your heart is not in the task.

If you are doing something to please another and this not what you want, you will continue to run out of motivation. Just because you “can” do something does not mean you “should” do it. Pick goals in life that are consistent with who you are and what you want. Look for things that you feel passionate about and your motivation will stay high more of the time.

Small rewards will not motivate you.

Low motivation comes from having rewards at the end of projects that are not big enough. Make sure that the goal you are working towards really matters to you. Do not set your sights on getting a particular job if you do not want to work there once they hire you. Avoid getting a degree in something that you will not enjoy doing, no matter how well that field may pay.

Especially avoid going after a partner just because they are popular and other people want to them. For rewards to motivate you then need to be the kind of rewards that are special to you.

Not liking the process interferes with motivation.

You may want to lose some weight but if you hate the gym or find the exercise you are doing painful you will not keep it up. Pick life activities that you enjoy doing and the work will motivate you. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy. Look for people you love to be around and you will stay motivated much longer.

Using pain to motivate you won’t work.

Pain only works to motivate people to avoid the activity. If you want the result you can put up with the hardships along the way because you use the reward at the end to motivate you.

Trying to beat yourself into motivation is setting yourself up for failure. Our brains are wired to avoid pain and the more you beat yourself up trying to make yourself do something, the harder it will become to stay motivated.

Do not use pain to try to force yourself to be motivated.

Have you experienced difficulty staying motivated? Have you used any of these motivation-enhancing methods? What other ways have you found to keep yourself motivated and moving forward?

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Try these tips to improve your motivation.

How to be on time.

By David Joel Miller.

How do those consistently punctual people do it?

Clock keeps you on time

Being on time
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Some people are always, almost pathologically, on time. Others are chronically late. Our western society is run on time. Things start at a particular time and then we are off to the next thing which also has a time. It can feel like we are being controlled by the clock.

The twentieth century was heralded as the century of labor-saving devices. With all that time we saved you would think no one would ever be hurried again. The result has not been an increase in available time but more working overtime to pay for all these labor and time-saving devices.

Even with all those technological advancements, some people are always on time and some are always late. Without getting into a discussion of the psychological factors that affect punctuality, and there are many psychological reasons people are on time or late arrivals, let’s look at how the Punctual People do things.

1. Punctual People get to bed on time.

If you think your day starts when you get up in the morning you would be way off. Getting plenty of sleep increases punctuality in the same way it increases productivity.

If you stay up late you will pay for it the whole next day. Tired people drag and then have to rush from thing to thing all day long.

2. Punctual People start their day early.

Late risers are already behind schedule when their feet hit the floor. They feel rushed and harried from start to finish. Let one thing go wrong and the rest of their day is off kilter.

Burn breakfast and there is no time to make a new one. The kids or you go hungry.

Plenty of road rage is caused by people who start out late and then need to “make up time” on the roadway. This rushing is bad for your driving and is bad for your health.

Start your day early and there is time if something goes wrong.

3. Punctual People allow enough time.

You know that your morning drive takes thirty minutes but you hang around reading your email and drinking coffee till quarter till. The result you have to rush and you are still late.

The worst papers come in from the students who wait until the night before and then try to write a paper in a few hours that they should have been working on all semester.

Bosses can easily tell when someone only allows an hour for an activity that should take four. The result is hurried, partially done and almost always late if it is done at all.

Give yourself plenty of time for each thing you do and you will be more creative, do a better job and still get it in on time.

Be realistic about how long things will take and you will run on time a lot more.

4. Productive People do not schedule themselves 100% of their time.

Early in the industrial age factory owners learned that you can’t schedule factories at 100% of capacity. Try to get above a certain productivity and something is bound to go wrong. A machine breaks or jams and then shuts down the whole line, the result is that productivity falls drastically,

People need down time for rest, relaxation and repair in the same way machines need maintenance if we are to avoid a major emergency.

Punctual people do not schedule themselves nonstop. They allow small gaps throughout their day so that if one activity runs long they do not throw their whole day out of whack.

5. Punctual People prefer waiting to being late.

Punctual People enjoy those relaxing moments when they get somewhere before the event starts. They do not mind waiting on others. A few minutes to relax between things is both healthy and it keeps you on schedule the rest of the day.

6. Punctual People start tasks early.

If you begin your work on that report or paper early there is little need to rush and you are more likely to be done on time.

Getting off the procrastination ride and doing the hard things first assures they will get done on time. Waiting till the last-minute sets you up to run overtime and be off schedule from then on.

7. Punctual People use their calendar.

Punctual people plan ahead. The plan on doing things on schedule and that means leaving enough time on their calendar for getting something done. It also means not scheduling things too close together so that getting from one thing to the next throws them off schedule.

8. Punctual people feel disrespected when you are late.

Punctual people manage their stress by staying organized and planning ahead. They do not feel stressed because they started way before this meeting with you.

They may have gone to bed early, gotten up early and left home for your meeting early all to avoid rushing and arriving stressed. It is also likely that they have planned some flex time between seeing you and the next thing they need to do.

When you are late you take away that tranquility they have created and dump your stress directly in their lap.

When you are late there is less time to spend with you, less gets done, meetings are abrupt or hurried and if they run overtime, you have just stolen some time that they had planned to spend with someone else.

There are some things in life where you do not need to observe a strict start and stop time. But most of life is run by the clock. Show up late for court and you may lose your case. Be late for a job interview and you reduced the chances of getting hired.

People who are on time are seen as dependable, they do what they say they will. So if you want to join the on-time club, consider adopting some of the characteristics of Punctual People and see if this does not reduce your stress in the process of making you a more Punctual Person.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended books.

What are you wishing for? What is on your holiday list?

By David Joel Miller.

What is on your Holiday wish list this year?

As we kick off the run up to Christmas, the stores are getting busy. There are black-whatever deals and there are wish lists for Santa, mom, dad and the government.

Watching the news this season has made me wonder whether we should be so disappointed for what we do not have or grateful for the things we do have.

House without roof

House without roof
Photo courtesy of Flickr (mcwetboy)

 

Are you saying that you need a newer larger house?

OR – Do you wish your house had a roof?

 

 

No more power

No more power
Photo courtesy of Flickr ( Arlington County)

 

 

Are you griping about the electricity bill?

OR – Do you wish you had electricity?

 

 

 

 

No Food

No Food
Photo courtesy of Flickr (boskizzi)

 

 

Are you carving Chocolate?

 

OR – Are you carving some food for your children?

 

 

No Job

No Job
Photo courtesy of Flickr ( Hopefoote, Ambassador of the Wow)

 

Are you wishing for more time off from work?

 

OR – Do your wish you had a job?

 

Maybe this season we should continue to remember the lists we made of things to be thankful for and expand our gratitude lists at a faster rate than we add to our wish lists.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

If you would like to stay connected to the posts on counselors soapbox, hear about the progress of my book in progress or the flow of the conversation about mental health and substance abuse issues – please subscribe or follow counselors soapbox.

You will find the follow button at the very tip-top of the page, in the black area, next to the counselorssoapbox.com name. And don’t forget to hit the share and the like buttons at the end of each post.

New feature! Now a “Contact me” button is located on the black bar just under the picture and next to the “About the Author – David Joel Miller” button.

 

Why you can’t make up your mind – Decisions.

By David Joel Miller

Why is hard to make up your mind when you have multiple choices?

Deciding on Choices

Deciding on Choices.

Choosing when you have multiple options can be difficult for several reasons.

There are two basic methods for making decisions, logical and emotional. As we saw in a previous post about Intuition neither way of making your choices is infallible.

Most choices are not clear-cut, all good or all bad. So we have to weigh the choices and then find some way of evaluating the good and the bad of each choice. When we get all done many of us fall back on our default mode to make our decision.

Not all choices are equal so a fixed set of decision-making rules does not always work even though some people and some institutions adopt a systematic procedure for making those decisions. Below are some examples of choices

A good choice vs. a bad choice.

Which do you want ice cream or a beating? Ice cream good, beating bad, take the ice cream. Anyone having trouble making that decision?

Good vs. good.

At the party do you want cake or ice cream? This is a matter of preference, may take longer to decide but ether is OK. It might be better if you could have both but that was not an option offered.

Good with bad vs. bad with good.

Your friend is having a party with cake ice cream and some champagne. You just went on a diet to get in shape for that reunion and you are trying to give up drinking. See friend and go off your diet?

You promised your workout friend that you would join her today at the gym. Last time you made an appointment she did not show.  Go to gym and work out to lose the weight but risk her standing you up again?

Now add more good and bad.

There is this cute guy from work that may be at the party, so might your ex.

There is this other cute guy that you met at the gym but your ex’s new girlfriend is now working there.

The more pros and cons we add the more difficult it becomes to make a decision.

Remember that whether you try to choose rationally or emotionally you run into problems making that decision.

Rationally you never have all the info you would need. Who will show up where? You can’t know ahead of time and if you attribute probabilities to these events that still does not solve the problem.

Which would be worse? Running into your ex or his new girlfriend or both of them together?

One common approach to  solving this dilemma is to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle put the reasons for choice one in one column and the reasons for choice two in column 2.

Not much help is it. Is the risk of getting ice cream instead of cake more or less important than the risk of seeing your ex or his new girlfriend? Not all reasons are equal. We get into some calculus to solve this equation.

Worst of all by the time you get all the info you need and get the math done, the party is over and the gym has closed.

Also choice decisions do not always s include all the alternatives. Make sure that the best choice is not left off your list. Also as with the cake or ice cream example, sometimes our action as in asking for both can alter the options available.

One last decision problem – time.

A dollar today is not equal to a dollar a year from now. Neither is exercising or eating cake. You could go to the party now and then exercise next week. A few weeks of that and you will not need your gym membership. You also will not be in top shape for the class reunion and that was the reason for your exercise and get healthy program in the first place.

Sometimes you need to trust your gut.

This impossibility to getting enough info and then assigning probabilities and so on is why much of the time we humans use intuition. Based on past experiences and the degree of your preference you will choose one way or the other and then have to live the consequences.

One last factor you need to consider is the importance of your goal. You might do something distasteful for money. Say your boss asked you to go to a function and make a speech and your ex might be there. Would you do it to please him? Would you do it for $1.00 how about $1,000,000? The bigger the rewards the more you might choose one option over the other.

But what about the size of the negatives? If one choice might alter your life forever in a bad way would that affect your decision?

So these kinds of choices are very personal and reflect not just the pros and the cons or the chances one thing or the other will work out, they also reflect your personal goals and values.

You goals and values shape your choices.

To make better choices on difficult decisions you really need to get to know yourself, your goals and your values. Then pick what is best for you.

Any comments from out there? Have you had to make a difficult choice and how did you finally go about deciding.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books