How Do I Know?: Your Guide to Decision-Making Mastery

How Do I Know?: Your Guide to Decision-Making Mastery

by Annita Keane


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452523521
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 11/19/2014
Pages: 202
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.43(d)

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How Do I Know?

Your Guide to Decision-Making Mastery

By Annita Keane

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2014 Annita Keane
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4525-2352-1


The Importance of Decision Making

To decide is to eliminate options in order to focus actions on the direction of your choice. Paraphrased from the Oxford English Dictionary

What is showing up in your life today is a direct result of the decisions you have made up to now. In order to create a different result you have to make a different decision.

There are times when it makes sense to follow what others are doing or to get advice; there are also times when only you know what is best for you, regardless of what makes logical sense or what others say. It's these decisions I struggled with the most. As a result, I felt stuck—a lot! I would avoid making a decision. Sometimes I was afraid I would do the wrong thing. Sometimes I was afraid of losing a friend or a partner or a job. Most of the time, I was afraid to make a decision and afraid not to make one at the same time. This kept me in a state of doing nothing.

Often, the only way I would make a decision was if life nudged me to do so. In other words, my back was against the wall before I decided. This made life more difficult than it needed to be. Finally, I grew tired of getting not-so-friendly nudges from the universe and decided that my life could be a little easier.

While I became aware of gut instinct, I didn't know how to connect with it on purpose. You know when you know what to do next. It just feels right. You feel sure, and there is no doubt whatsoever. That is when your thoughts, emotions, and gut instincts are all on the same page, or aligned. I was aware that when I was in this sure place, the outcomes of my decisions worked well for my family and me.

But at times I would get significant opposition from friends and family. "What are you doing? Are you crazy?" they'd say. Though my decisions looked like I was passing up an opportunity, they always, always paid off, setting me up in a better position than I had been in previously. I am glad I persisted. This happened in career moves, with partner decisions, and when buying property. In these situations, if and when things worked out, I believed I was lucky.

Very simply, I learned from examples like those given above that there are two types of decisions: those where you are connected to your inner wisdom and those where you are not. When I made my decisions from that disconnected place, I almost always second-guessed myself. I often missed the opportunity because I would worry, procrastinate, and wonder if things would go wrong. I was hoping for the best and doubting myself at the same time. Does this sound familiar?

The inability to make decisions makes you a product of your environment rather than master of your world. When you don't know what you want, others decide for you. This is fine for a kid, but it doesn't work when you want to take control of your life.

Choosing your life goals and making decisions that direct your actions to achieve those goals keeps you from becoming the victim of your life. Discovering the ability to decide and take the steps to achieve what you want is critical to you taking charge of your direction in the world.

When you were a child, you were told what to do, and you lived according to others' rules. As you moved into your teenage years, you started to make decisions for yourself. You had the guidance of your parents, teachers, and peers, and you learned how to develop your choices and then decided according to the directions you chose. As you progressed, your decisions were based on knowing what you wanted. Now, even in work, you need to have plans or goals that align with the company but are yours nonetheless.

Decisions determine the actions you take to create the outcomes you want. Where you live and with whom, where you go, what you do, and where you work are all results of decisions. Your decisions determine whether or not you take the steps necessary to achieve your goals. They cause you to stay the same or to change direction. Have you noticed that the main reason you get stuck in something is because of the difficulty of deciding what to do next?

You can have many great ideas, but if you don't make decisions to take action, the great ideas remain just that—ideas. For example, have you had a great idea and not taken action, only to see someone else make a lot of money out of it later on?

Knowing What You Want

Knowing what you want is important when making decisions. The more clearly you can specify what you want, the better the chance you have of making decisions that lead straight there. Say, for example, you want to meet a new partner. The decision supporting that want sets the actions necessary to make that happen. You may decide to join a dating agency. You probably have a good idea of what you would like your partner to be like. And as you begin the dating process, the experiences help you to further discern your ideal partner. You also develop a definite set of no's and an extensive list of yes's.

Knowing What You Don't Want

Sometimes it is easier to know what you do want based on knowing what you don't want. Knowing what you don't want helps you to fine-tune what you do want. You can make decisions that define the steps you need to take in the direction you want or to take away from what you don't want. For example, you may start your education with a general science degree. As you learn more about the subject, you can better choose the direction you would prefer to specialize in, like biochemistry or physics. When you are stuck, making the decision to move in any direction can shift your status quo.

Thinking You Know What You Want

While you can make decisions based on others' experiences and advice, it may not give you the satisfaction you thought it would. If you are a teenager, when you develop more independence, there are so many things to learn and so many first times, it can be scary. It is easy to go for what you know and to follow your parents or peers. Some decide to rebel against their parents and peers. The reality is that only you can determine your likes and dislikes. And working out the pieces you want to keep and those you want to leave behind is a natural part of growing up.

So set a goal. The decisions you make will determine your path to that goal. The power of decision making comes in having the ability to change your mind if something isn't working and to set a course in a different direction. It is knowing when to change course or not, depending on the circumstances. While the logistics of changing those decisions isn't always easy, the fear of making mistakes or repeating old mistakes can be a real concern. It's okay to change your mind and your direction. Often, continuing what you are doing when you know it's not working can do more harm than good.

Decisions—especially the big ones, such as regarding a partner or career—shape your life. And you have to make them without knowing the outcome. So many factors are out of your control. But one thing we can all do as human beings is make the best decision we can under the circumstances. Old hurts and unhappy experiences can leave you fearful and hesitant about making decisions. Maybe you landed in the job from hell or in an unhappy partnership, or you botched your finances. The fears caused by these can affect how you make new decisions. You might run from the pain and become less and less inclined to change or to decide to enter into a new opportunity. Why? You are afraid that the next decision will create the same result as the last one and that you will get hurt again.

There is always some reason for you to decide in the first place—for example, a change in circumstances, wanting to improve your lifestyle, a new job, a potential partner, a health problem, or even something as simple as an unexpected change of plans. Life changes all the time, so you need to adjust your course regularly. Your decisions determine every outcome in your world, and you get to make them on a daily basis.

The question is, what do you use as a compass? You're outer or your inner world—or both? Which do you rely on the most?

"Your ability to connect all the information available to your gut instinct and inner wisdom is the secret to making decisions that consistently work in your favor."

Getting this right can open you into creating the life of your dreams. Think of the time, energy, and money you can save by moving in a direction of ease and flow within, instead of going on a wild goose chase, trying to live according to someone else's rules.

But first you must understand why decisions can be such a struggle.


Why We Struggle with Decisions

If my attachment to what I know blinds me to all the available options, then my knowledge is controlling me; it is controlling my intention, and it is creating my personal Dream for me. But with awareness of my attachments comes the opportunity to take back that control and to live as I choose. Don Miguel Ruiz Jr., The Five Levels of Attachment

We all learn to override our instincts and natural wisdom to fit in with the tribe. So you have learned to look outside yourself for answers. Do you struggle to believe in yourself as a result? You may not have learned how to trust yourself in the first place. Do you believe that what others say is more important than what you have to say? Based on past experience, you may also struggle to believe others.

Making decisions is a complex process. So many factors have to be considered. You would think that with so much information available, you would have no problem making decisions. If anything, information makes things more confusing. There are so many options, how do you decide what will work for you?

Having learned to look to others for answers, you may not know how to go within as a reference point. When we were kids, we accepted a lot of what we were told. There is nothing wrong with this; we have to start somewhere. But as we grow into adulthood, there always seems to be someone who knows the answer, or who knows better. Have you noticed how many gurus and experts are out there? There is only one problem with that: the only person who knows what you want is you. And if you don't know how to connect with your inner wisdom to be clear on that, what do you do?

There is a good chance you are out there chasing your parents', your cultures, or others' ideas of what your dreams should be or could be. Let's face it, we all are—or were at some point. And you may not even be aware of it. Is it any wonder fulfillment is out of your reach?

Our instincts often conflict with what we have learned—and this is supposed to happen. Your peers and elders provided you with the framework that worked for them, and it is up to you to incorporate it into your life in a way that works for you. This inner conflict motivates you to question what you learned and to open up to the possibilities that can work for you. Most of us misinterpret what this conflict means, getting caught up in the drama. Basically, we learn to override our instincts to fit in with our tribe. And the conflict may actually be telling you that this worked for your parent but doesn't work for you.

It is easy to lose trust when we get advice that doesn't help. We learn that others know better (or should know better). We lose trust when others deliberately lead us astray for their gain and at our expense. And we lose trust when we believed an influential someone and it turns out he or she was lying all along. You also learn to lose trust in yourself when you are trying to be one thing for your parents, another for your teacher, and someone else again for your friends and colleagues. Where does it end?

You will need to relearn how to trust yourself.

You may know this already. Or you may think, Oh, is that what that is? Learning how to trust yourself greatly enhances your decision-making process. That trust makes it easier to commit to taking the steps required to move in the direction of a decision, because you relearn how to read your own signals.

Traditionally, we have learned to make our decisions based on the information available at the time. We picked up ideas from our parents and others. But truth is relative to the perceiver, and this makes looking outside for your answers very confusing. Really, you could ask ten different experts and get ten different opinions; therefore, it is important you make your decisions based on what is true for you.

Because we have such easy access to information; old, rigid belief systems are starting to crumble. What you believe to be true today may no longer be relevant for you tomorrow. That's evolution. Your decisions change accordingly.

When you were very young, you lived by your family's rules. When you left home, you developed your own rules. Were they different? Some you adopted from home and some you created yourself. How does this affect your decisions? It is your life. You are living it. How can someone else make your decisions? The rules that affected you as a child are no longer relevant today, and yet many of your decisions today are based on your childhood experiences. How many of the rules you learned as a child are still running your life now? The results show up in your life.

Decision-making can be difficult because of our attachment to the familiar. The second reason is that we just don't like change because of emotional attachments. The combination keeps us stuck like hamsters on wheels.

When we don't like aspects of our lives and are afraid to—or believe we can't—change them; our decisions and actions then may become the result of a fear or belief rather than being fully informed by all the information available. The result? More of the same. We are attached to what is familiar.

Have you noticed that the number-one thing human beings hate is change? I have spoken to many clients over the years, and the most common theme I encounter is that they want to change their lives yet they don't want to change what they are doing. But if you continue to do the same things in the same way, how can you achieve a different result?

Would you believe that your body is in constant motion? Your energy dynamics are always changing. Your emotions are constantly changing. The only thing that is not changing is your thought process.

And you become used to thinking in a certain way. The old ways are difficult to change because you become attached to the way you think and to how you do things. The feeling of familiarity enfolds you like a security blanket, regardless of whether that familiarity actually works for you or not.

Our thoughts generate a chain reaction in our body, which culminates in our body taking action—or not. So when we think a certain thought, we engage the loop of physiological, emotional, energetic, and physical responses that leads to the behavior that creates our external experience. When we need to do things a certain way, this becomes a loop of habit. Like a hamster on a hamster wheel, once you jump on, you continue doing and reacting to the same events or people in the same way. This is great if it works for you. If not, making a different decision is what will make a difference in the result.

You can develop an unhealthy comfort zone in your body by ignoring or misreading signals that say you are out of your comfort zone. Say, for example, you notice a twinge in your lower back. You rub it and take a painkiller, and the pain goes away for a while. You curb your activities slightly and forget about it as soon as the pain dissipates. Before long, you are back at normal activities.

A few weeks later, after a round of golf, you feel the twinge again. It is a little more noticeable this time. Again you take painkillers and forget about it when the pain disappears. It takes a little longer to get back to normal, and you notice you are compromising your posture a little to protect your back. You soon forget about that.

A month later you are in the garden, pulling a stubborn weed. Just as it releases from the ground, you notice something pop in your lower back. You can't straighten up. An hour later, you find yourself at a chiropractor's or doctor's office, and you say, "It just popped, out of the blue. I never saw it coming."

As time passed, you went from a twinge to a slipped disc, because you create different comfort zones to accommodate the pain. The changes were so small that the gradual shift from "just a twinge" to a slipped disc was almost imperceptible.


Excerpted from How Do I Know? by Annita Keane. Copyright © 2014 Annita Keane. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction, xi,
Part 1: Identifying the Problem Areas, 1,
Chapter 1: The Importance of Decision Making, 3,
Chapter 2: Why We Struggle with Decisions, 11,
Chapter 3: How Do You Make Decisions, 27,
Chapter 4: The Five Key Elements of Decision Making, 35,
Part 2: Finding Your Personal Sticking Points, 45,
Chapter 5: The Mind Element—Thoughts, 47,
Chapter 6: The Power of Words, 69,
Chapter 7: Tuning in to Emotional States, 77,
Chapter 8: Noticing Physical Sensations, 101,
Chapter 9: The Great Unknown (or So We Thought), 113,
Part 3: Making Decisions That Work for You, 133,
Chapter 10: Take Back Your Power, 135,
Chapter 11: Releasing Attachments, 149,
Chapter 12: Reasons to Seek Coaching, 167,
Resources, 175,

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How Do I Know?: Your Guide to Decision-Making Mastery 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is presented as a book to help the reader in decision making.  However, it undersells itself in this regard as it really serves to assist the reader in providing a framework to explain not only how they make their decisions but also why they react in a certain way to certain circumstances.  In large part this centres on the readers past and intriguingly, often a part of their past that they may not even presently be aware of or remember.  This is one of the many surprising discoveries I made in this book about the decision making process. The book is written in a very clear and engaging way without some of the very opaque and oblique language, often a feature of these type of books.  It very much speaks to the reader rather than at them and does so in a very non preaching style. Cleverly also, Keane highlights the spiritual aspects involved in the decision making process but not in any denominational way.  In addition, she introduces a physical dimension to enable the reader to uncover for themselves when their physical body is telling them that they have arrived at the correct decision.  This is one of the many clear ways that Keane tells the reader “How do I know”. In this way it provides a very holistic approach to decision making, linking as it does the mind, body and spirit in the process. Overall I found this a very informative book which will certainly help me improve my decision making.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! From start to finish. It is so simple to read, yet it goes so deep. The author has made it so easy to apply to my life. I use it now when I have any big decisions to make. And it works every time. I am so thrilled I was recommended this book by a friend and I know it'll always be one I turn to again and again.
SpikenardMM More than 1 year ago
I liked this book so much I gave it to a few people I love for Christmas. I was pleasantly surprised on the easy way it is organized to reach all aspects of decision making without sounding preachy or making it all so difficult. I go back and re-read parts at times. A good resource book at a time when I keep only a few!