The Decision-Making process: A few helpful hints

I feel like Johnny and I have been in a permanent state of decision-making for the past two years. That’s about the time we started the process of renovating our house. I thought working with our architect during the design phase would require the lion's share of the decisions, but oh, how wrong I was. Now that the job is 99.9% complete. I can assure you that during the past seven months of construction, at least one decision a day was required of us. And with more choices made than I like to recall during the final finishing stage, I’m so relieved that short phase of my life is over!

Some of these decisions came easily, while others, ahem, did not. At one point during our deliberations over the exterior house colors, I sent an email to our beloved architect, asking him for his opinion on the color combination. He immediately responded with some pat answer about it being our personal decision, and that we had to make the choice and own it, yada, yada, yada. I wrote back, taking him to task for responding so generically, and then he responded in the way I was hoping for…with a little touch of Dr. Phil included. (Truth is, I’ve never seen or heard Dr. Phil, but I probably should…he might really like a Pillbag!)

What our architect included in his response was a list of key points to consider when making decisions. The advice, taken from the book he received from another client, was particularly helpful for the remainder of the renovation, as well as in my daily life with lupus. I found the advice essential, not only during the decision-making process, but particularly in the moments, days, and weeks after the choices had been made. With the renovation, it was imperative that our decisions build on one another in order to continue making progress. Once the choice had been made, we had to stick by it, and allow the pieces (of the house) to literally fall into place. Going back on our decision or regretting it would have cost us time, energy, or money, none of which we wanted to waste.

Same is true with lupus, right? Whether it’s deciding on a new medication, a different doctor, or an alternate way of managing the disease, the last thing we want to do is waste time, energy, or money. We want the choices we make to be good ones, so that we can continue re-building our life, with lupus in tow.

Here are a couple of points from that list. Look for another couple in an upcoming post. Yes, they’re that good to warrant separate blog entries!

Keys to Resolving Choice

*Be satisfied with good choices, instead of striving for perfection:

This one is SO relevant for me. I can be such a perfectionist, to the point where I don’t make a decision because I don’t want to make the wrong one. But I’ve found there are very few decisions that are absolutely right…it’s just the choice that’s right at the time you make it. Kind of takes the pressure off, don’t you think? I remember making the decision to start Cellcept. I was so worried that it wasn’t the right time or the right circumstances to start the drug. I was waiting for the perfect scenario, but eventually realized there was no perfect scenario. I just had to make the decision that was right for me at that point and time. And I’m so glad I did. It literally changed my life! (You can read about all that here.)

*Don't focus too much on the choices you've already eliminated:

Oh, how true this is. When I decided to go part-time at work years ago, I struggled with the decision immediately afterward. Would we be able to manage financially? Would I feel under-utilized? Would it be the end of my career? As I contemplated these things, I kept thinking that going back to work full-time would instantly eliminate these concerns. But I was forgetting the reason I left full-time work – because my health suffered because of it. Once I fully accepted this fact, I was able to positively embrace my decision to work part-time – re-shaping my understanding of the life/work balance, and re-establishing my identity, given my new circumstances.


So how did this advice play out in our house colors? Once we settled on a nice green color for the siding and brick, with a darker green for the trim, and a tan for the second story trim, we were able to move forward with other key decisions, like stain color for the front door and the color/finish for the gutters. We really did build on our previous decisions, and it helped tremendously to trust our decisions, rather than striving for intangible perfection or being plagued with regret.

Just like in my renovation, I’ve tried to build momentum with the decisions I’ve made since being diagnosed with lupus, allowing one day’s decisions to roll into the next.

Today, I challenge you to make at least one good decision - one voluntary choice that helps keep your disease activity at a minimum. We’ll hope to keep the momentum going, in order to make another one tomorrow!


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