The Anatomy of Choice and Decision
Excerpted from: Transformational Life Coaching, and written by: Cherie Carter‐Scott, Ph.D. and Lynn U. Stewart
The definition of choice is “to select freely from a series of alternatives that which you want.” A decision, on the other hand, is “a conclusion or a determination about something that is based on rational, logical, and reasonable facts and information.” Choices are intuitive, are driven by preferences, are satisfying to the self, feel right, and can stretch you outside your comfort zone. Decisions are rational, are driven by expectations, appease others, are often justified with reasons and explanations, and don’t necessarily require a stretch.
When we compare decisions and choices, we see that a decision is rational, where a choice is intuitive. A decision is logical and reasonable, while a choice feels right on a gut level. A decision can be explained by reasons, where a choice is based on personal preference. A decision is driven by external expectations, where a choice is driven by intrinsic proclivity. A decision appeases others, where a choice is satisfying to the self. A decision is comfortable, while a choice can be uncomfortable.
Conditions for making a choice are: There is either a statement of dissatisfaction with the status quo, or there is an expression of desire for something different from what currently exists. The person examines what he or she feels about the situation, explores what he or she ideally wants. The various options are reviewed, preferences are articulated, and the person selects the most desirable option. Finally, the person commits to his or her choice. Choices are intrinsically initiated and are all about making changes. When this progression is followed, the person making the choice experiences satisfaction and fulfillment.
The conditions for making a decision look like this: There is a situation that requires resolution. The person examines his or her expectations and the ramifications and consequences of each option. A decision is made based on those criteria or the “shoulds.” The outcome often results in reservations rather than a clear commitment, and the person deciding may end up feeling less than satisfied with the outcome.
Research has demonstrated that following one’s preferences leads to more long‐range and fulfilling outcomes. People who tend to operate cognitively are usually more comfortable making decisions. People who operate affectively (from their emotions) are more comfortable making choices. Both types of people are capable of making both decisions and choices; however, many people hesitate to make either one. The question that most coaches must face is why people are indecisive.
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