The decisions you make over the course of your life play a huge role in shaping the direction and outcome of your life. A few poor choices along the way are inevitable, and sometimes the worst situations we experience can be our greatest teachers, if we're willing to learn from them.
But it makes sense to strive to make the best decisions possible, as much as possible. One of the ways you can do this is by staying out of the decision-making danger zone.
What is the decision-making danger zone? It's that space we often find ourselves in where we're either not thinking clearly, or we're giving away too much of our decision-making power to someone else. The best thing you can do when you find yourself in that zone is to get out of it, so you can reclaim your mental clarity and decision-making power.
Here are 5 signs you're in the decision-making danger zone.
1. You're sleep deprived.
Pulled an all-nighter for school or work? Missing out on sleep while you care for a sick friend or family member? Struggling with insomnia for more than a couple of nights? Any number of circumstances can lead to sleep deprivation, and it takes an enormous toll on your mental and emotional well-being.
Even if you think you're doing fine, you're missing out on the important repair processes that can only occur when we get adequate sleep. It becomes increasingly difficult to manage emotions effectively when you're sleep deprived. You're also highly prone to overlooking the obvious, and exercising poor judgment both in trivial and important matters.
2. You're highly stressed.
Stress is part of life, there's no way around it. The key lies in managing stress, so it doesn't become harmful or overwhelming. If you're highly stressed to the point where you're constantly feeling strained with no relief, that's extremely unhealthy physically and emotionally.
It also makes it more difficult to make decisions and tackle problems in a calm, rational, sensible way. It's extremely difficult to think straight when you're highly stressed, which can cause you to overlook options and solutions that may be right in front of you. You're also far more likely to overreact to situations when you're highly stressed.
3. You're feeling rushed.
There's a time and place for making quick, intuitive gut-level decisions. However, the vast majority of decisions in life require some thought, so you know what you're dealing with and what the possible consequences may be. If you're being rushed to make a quick decision, you might not have sufficient time to take a proper, fulsome look at things before moving forward. You can later find yourself facing all sorts of problems that could have been foreseen and/or avoided with adequate time to really think things through.
4. You're not eating well.
Have you ever been so hungry that you couldn't think about anything other than getting something to eat? Did you find yourself feeling a little out of sorts, irritable, or perhaps even downright grouchy? Making decisions on an empty stomach is not a good idea! The saying, "you're not yourself when you're hungry," is well-founded. There are all sorts of things that start to happen in your body when you haven't eaten for awhile, and this biochemical activity has a direct effect on your mood and judgment. In the long term, eating poorly can impact cognitive function and mood, which in turn can impact your decision-making capabilities.
5. You're focused on trying to please or appease someone else.
The ability to exercise emotional intelligence is a valuable skill for building and maintaining healthy relationships. It allows you to tune-in to other people and consider their needs alongside your own. However, at one time or another, we all have found ourselves dealing with relationships that weren't healthy. The details may differ from person to person, but the common thread is that you find yourself overly focused on trying to please or appease the person you're dealing with, to the point where you start setting aside or even neglecting your own needs.
When keeping someone else happy becomes your dominant focus, it can lead to disastrous decision making. If you're feeling obligated to cater to someone else, or you feel like you have no real choice but to comply with someone else's wishes and demands (whether openly stated or unspoken), this is not a healthy set of dynamics. Along with putting you in the danger zone for your decision making, it suggests that much bigger problems exist that need to be addressed so you don't experience harm, emotional or otherwise.
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