The stress of decision making can impact us physically and emotionally. You might not sleep well, lose your appetite, have a headache and often your heart rate is up. It’s called tension. Tension is always present with decisions. But why? How can we reduce it?
When we are young, we don’t recognize the consequences for our decisions, our parents are there to cover for us. As we grow older, we start realizing there are consequences of our decisions, parents can’t bail us out. Sadly, today there is a belief that we can create a “perfect” world, one where there are no hardships, if we make good decisions. Our recognition of consequences and our attempt at perfection bring in the tension.
While there are an infinite number of decisions to make each day, I lump the choices we make into three categories.
We experience countless of these types of decision and many of them are low stress. Do I play golf, or do I go bike riding today? Do we eat Italian or Mexican tonight? In our work, the consequences might be higher. Do I promote Juanita, who knows the organization, but the position is a stretch, or do I hire Cindy from the outside who has he experience? While challenging I find these types of decisions are easier, because you can wrestle with the pros and cons of each, and then make a choice based on the information available to you.
Choosing to step into the unknown
I’m not a risk taker, so the unknown is hard for me. What about you? The status quo has a strong pull on us because we know it, it seems predictable and appears to have more certainty. Yet, the status quo can also be unsatisfying. We might avoid risk, but is there joy in the status quo? The unknown is full of risk, but there is also a new opportunity, a new challenge. The struggle is, we don’t know what it will be like and it’s hard to imagine the future, which is my downfall. It could be so much better than the status quo of today. Are we ready to take the risk of stepping into the unknown?
Choosing to say/do something or remain quiet/do nothing
These are the most difficult of choices because the decision not only impacts us, but others too. These decisions are about doing what we know is “right” or not, the tension is with our conscience. There is tremendous pressure to keep quiet and do nothing. Am I ready to lose friends over this? Am I okay with being treated differently at work if I speak up? Am I ready to challenge those in power, knowing they can make my life difficult? Most of us have failed this test and passed it too.
Tension is present in each category, but I find it’s higher than it needs to be when I forget to invite God into the decision-making process or I waiver in my trust of Him. My hunch is I’m not alone in this.
When there is a big decision, invite God into the process:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5
Then, when you make the decision, trust in God and relax, let Him do the work.
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17:7