Decision Making with Distractions


Thanks to technology, travel, and education, we live in a world of almost endless possibilities. We have access to opportunities and experiences that previous generations couldn’t have even imagined. However, it’s also easier than ever to lose focus, to lose valuable time simply sorting through our options. It can feel like we aren’t living our life as much as we are chasing it around.

Distractions can interfere with our ability to be present in our relationships and intentional in our decision-making. To prevent this, we have to start by distinguishing what’s most important to us from everything else; we have to create a value filter that simplifies the sorting process.

Here are some considerations for creating a filter uniquely suited to you.

First, be clear about your values. What gets you really charged up? It’s important to acknowledge that there are a lot of qualities and behaviors that are valuable in a general sense, but not especially valuable to you personally. In this exercise, we want to identify the values of greatest significance to you.

Take a look at your calendar and your bank statements; the way you use your time and your money can be clues to what you value.

Consider your social media activity; who do you follow; what do you retweet? What are the topics that get you so carried away that you lose track of time when you’re thinking about them and bore your friends to death talking about them?

Second, think about your life goals. Where would you like to be in a year? Five years? Ten years? What are the greatest challenges to accomplishing your goals? Does your current course reflect your goals and values or are your actions and priorities out of alignment? Talk to people whose own accomplishments reflect your goals and ask them about their path. Examine your own expectations and motivations. Be ruthlessly honest about what you want and why.

Third, imagine your life in reverse. Twenty years from now, what would you like to have accomplished, experienced, or been known for? What would you most regret having not done? What currently occupies your time and energy that won’t matter at all five years, or two years, or even one year from now? Are there distractions you’re reluctant to give up? If so, what makes them so compelling?

With an effective filter, we don’t have to limit the options we are willing to consider, nor exhaust ourselves trying to examine every possibility with equal thoroughness. More importantly, the choices we make are more likely to provide us with fulfillment, satisfaction, and a sense of purpose.

Written By: Jill Howgate, LAPC