Why do we sometimes feel a sense of disconnection when working certain things, and a sense of extreme fulfilment and connection when working on other things?
Recently, a friend of mine told me he was considering quitting a side project he had started with a few partners. He started the project with the best intentions; however it felt as though the team didn’t agree on many issues and there was a major disconnect between team members. It had also dawned upon him that they didn’t share similar values or even share the same vision! This made him feel uneasy and incongruent while working on the project, and led to his decision to leave the team.
Why do some adults spend good money to remove tattoos, that they as teenagers, spent good money to get? In this article, I will share the process of creating a mindset that will help make decisions one won’t regret.
Figure 1: How countries make decisions
When a country wants to implement a program or policy, it carefully considers the factors above to ensure the program/policy fits securely and doesn’t conflict with the fundamental values of the country, the vision of its leaders, the objectives of the country and its overall strategy.
The model of running a country, shown in figure 1, can be leveraged to create a solid personal decision making process. After running through this exercise yourself and:
- Understanding your ideology
- Creating a vision for yourself
- Defining objectives to achieve
- Crafting a strategy to achieve the objectives
- Following simple rules you set up for yourself (programs & policies)
When you’re aware of your ideology and principles, you are able to understand your limitations in terms of thought. Ideology affects everything you do, thus, it’s vital to understand why you do what you. As you gain knowledge, regularly assess your ideology and make adjustments when necessary.
E.g. if you value honesty and trust, it will be almost impossible to work with someone who lies and cheats whenever they can get away with it.
If the foundation of the pyramid (figure 1) is shaky, it will collapse.
“Ideology has shaped the very sofa on which I sit”
Vision is visualizing an ideal state in your mind’s eye. Creating a vision of your future will help you decide which opportunities will contribute to achieving the vision and which opportunities won’t. This will make it much easier for you to make decisions when considering undertaking new projects.
E.g. you have a vision to be a great actor and bedazzle the world through the silver screen and you’re offered two opportunities:
- work as an executive with very high pay
- work as an intern with fairly low pay alongside established directors
The choice seems simple to make, however, the complexities of ‘real life’ sway us in the direction that won’t contribute towards achieving the vision. As captain of your own ship, you are solely responsible for directing your ship towards realizing the vision. Do not let the winds of life drift you away from your destination.
A person without a vision is like a ship with a captain who doesn’t know the destination. Do not allow your ship to drift the ocean of life without a destination in mind.
“Begin with the end in mind”
– Stephen Covey –
Objectives are specific results that a person aims to achieve within a time frame and with available resources. After defining your vision, broad goals can be set to outline the things you want to accomplish. However, broad goals lack specificity and urgency, thus objectives are created that define specific results to be achieved in a set time frame.
E.g. consider the example of having a goal that says you want to be physically fit. The goal is broad and the definition of ‘physically fit’ is unclear. Setting clear objectives such as:
- Decrease body fat by 5% in 5 months
- Cut daily sugar consumption by half in 1 month
The key to setting clear objectives is defining the target and a time frame within which to achieve the target.
“I see only my objective – the obstacles must give way”
Strategy gains its roots from military planning which describes the art of planning and directing overall operations and movements. Your personal strategies can be how you plan and direct your overall efforts.
E.g. using the example above, in order to decrease body fat by 5% in 5 months, a strategy that can be experimented with could be something like the “go green strategy” which involves substituting green vegetables wherever possible.
“Failure is nothing more than a chance to revise your strategy”
Programs and Policies
Think of programs and policies as simple guidelines. Since you’ve already understood your ideology, created a vision for yourself, defined your objectives, and crafted a strategy to achieve your objectives, you can create simple rules for yourself that will help create habits that will drive you towards success. Creating rules this way allows you to follow the rules that you’ve created and not those that are imposed upon you by others. This translates to a higher chance of you actually following the rules you created.
E.g. using the example above, a few simple rules could be:
- No food after 6 pm
- No sugar after 3 pm
- Exercise 3 times a week for 2 hours each session
“Make your own rules or be a slave to another man’s”
In life, change is the only constant. Revisit these rules on a regular basis and reassess whether they are still working for you. Change them too frequently and you won’t accomplish much, change them rarely and they might not be relevant anymore. Use your best judgement to find a suitable period after which you should redo this exercise. I’ve found that a cycle of once every 6 months works best for me. I’d like to hear what works best for you, let me know in the comments section below.