Blog Short #13: The 24-Hour Decision-Making Rule

Welcome to Monday Blog Shorts – ideas to make even Monday a good day! Every Monday I share a short article with you about a strategy you can use, or new facts or info that informs you, or a new idea that inspires you . My wish is to give you something to think about in the week ahead. Let’s dig in!

Making decisions is a big deal because there are always repercussions.

Some decisions are easy and the repercussions are minor, but others can produce a string of reactions that come back at you, or keep showing up out into the future. Either way, it’s good to use a strategy which I call the 24-Hour Decision-Making Rule.

You can pretty much figure out what that means just by the title. When you have to make a decision, or you have the impulse to do something or say something (which is a decision), give it 24 hours and see if you still want to do it. Better yet, make this a habit so you don’t impulsively do something you’re sorry about later.

This can apply to decisions of all kinds including simple things like posting something on social media out of anger. Or maybe a more serious decision like going into your boss’s office and giving him a piece of your mind. Or buying something on the fly without thinking about whether you can really afford it. Or getting the rescue dog at the pet store that’s so adorable without considering whether you have the time or right circumstances to take care of it.

You need your emotional brain and thinking brain to work together, and that doesn’t always happen with snap decisions.

​Good decisions are made best when both our emotions and thinking capacity are engaged in a concerted effort to deliberately and consciously make a choice with the best possible outcomes, or avoid a choice that will be detrimental to ourselves and others.

Allowing a time lapse between the impulse to act and the act itself allows this process to occur. And for serious decisions with big consequences, it’s definitely a life-saver.

Here’s when you don’t need to use the 24-hour rule:

  • A fast decision is required as in the case of an emergency.
  • The decision isn’t impulsive and you’ve already done the necessary deliberation and planning to make the best choice.
  • Simple decisions that are made every day that aren’t emotionally driven such as what time to get up, when to eat dinner, or anything that’s just part of your normal routine.

​​Here’s when you need to use the 24-hour rule:

  • The decision is emotionally driven. Maybe you’re angry, depressed, or anxious and your mood is pushing you from the inside to act now!
  • There’s an important relationship issue involved. This can be with a partner, friend, child, boss, co-worker, or even someone you don’t know but are interacting with.
  • The decision will have consequences for your budget or time consumption.
  • There’s a grey area between what you want to do and your values or conscience.
  • You’re physically or mentally impaired. Maybe you’re ill, foggy brained, or simply in a bad mood and not thinking clearly.

​Just to make it easy, I generally use the 24-hour rule for every decision I can, even small ones, as a matter of habit. It simplifies things. You know that if you still want to do that thing in 24 hours, then you feel good about the decision because you’ve thought about it and likely run it through your pros/cons lens.

What’s surprising when you begin this is to find out how many decisions you decide against when you allow the 24 hours, and what kinds of problems you avoid by doing that. That’s the silver lining!

It also gives you a lot more control over your future – even your next day future! It feels good to have that self-discipline and be able to use your emotions to work for you instead of against you.

For the next several weeks, try deferring some decisions, even small ones, for 24 hours and see what happens? You might learn more about yourself!

That’s all for today! Have a great week!

All my best,

Barbara

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