What is the best course of action to take when you are faced with a big, far-reaching decision? Many feel that the best way to go is to act with certainty and make a decision on the spot.
But is that really the best way to make a big decision? When President Barack Obama was confronted with the decision of whether to give the go ahead to the attack that killed Osama bin Laden, he did not make a quick decision. He took time to sleep on it first. Some might look at this as being indecisive. But research done on decision making backs up Obama’s course of action.
While none of us have to worry about killing terrorists, we all are confronted with having to make big decisions. And often we feel that we have to make a decision instantly, because of some other kind of pressure from outside, or because we just feel the need to go with our gut.
But social psychologists who have studied the situation say that sleeping on it usually is the best course of action. This is because it gives our unconscious minds time to review the facts of the case. Our mind is actively engaged in weighing the pros and cons. Sleeping on a decision allows us to separate what is essential from what is superficial. Our unconscious can actually work through a lot of information if we give it the time.
So, when confronting a big decision, the psychologists recommend, first gather as much information as possible You’ll now doubt soon see which courses of action can be eliminated right away.
Then sleep on it. You need to give your unconscious mind time to sift through the information without interference from your conscious mind. Then, after you have made a decision, run it through your conscious mind again as a kind of double check on the accuracy of your unconscious. Does it all make sense? Does it all hang together?
Now, in the middle of a busy day it may not be practical to just take time off to take a nap so you can sleep on your decision. But there are many other ways to distract your conscious mind so that your unconscious can go to work – listening to music, exercising, doing some other task. Then, after a little while, after you have been distracted from the issue, one course of action will just feel right.
After considering your decision a little further with your conscious mind, that’s the course you should take.