How to make good choices

How can we stay on track with ‘what good looks like’ when there’s so much else going on at work and in life generally?

This was a question at The Leaders Surgery this week and I understand why…

It’s one thing to understand what good looks like, and another to keep it front of mind in the complexity and day-to-day reality of workplaces.

So how can we make ‘good’ choices amongst the busy-ness?

I’ve found the ‘Choice Points’ framework from Dr Russ Harris to be a useful tool to make choices that take me towards what good looks like.

A tool within ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), Choice Points help us to be intentional about who we want to be and how we want to show up by identifying points when we can move towards or away from it.

When things are going well and life is giving us what we want, it’s usually fairly easy for us to choose ‘towards moves’: to act effectively, to treat ourselves and others in ways that create secure relationships, and to do the things that make life better in the long term rather than worse.

But we know that life isn’t that easy much of the time, and it doesn’t give us what we want for very long. So as challenging situations and difficult thoughts and feelings arise, it’s all too tempting to slip into mindsets, attitudes and behaviours that pull us off track, away from who we want and need to be.

Harris suggests that almost every psychological disorder, from stress and anxiety to depression and addiction, boils down to this basic process: we get ‘hooked’ by difficult thoughts and feelings, and begin to make ‘away moves’.

However, if we can catch them running through our minds – what’s playing on our ‘internal radio’ – it is possible to unhook ourselves from these thoughts and feelings. With this awareness, we can choose to make ‘towards moves’ instead by doing things that move us towards the life we want to live and the person we want to be.

Choice Points help us identify the things we do that move us towards the life we want to live and the person we want to be (‘towards moves’) and the things that we do that move us away from the life we want to live and the person we want to be (‘away moves’).

Which is why a critical part of understanding whether we are making towards or away moves, is being clear on what good looks like.

It doesn’t have to be perfect – good enough is sometimes exactly that.

It doesn’t have to be big – doing what we can where we can is often most effective.

And it doesn’t need to be completely defined – a direction to move in can be all we need.

And if you’d like some support understanding how to unhook from negative thinking, this resource could help.

Until next time…

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