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Step-by-Step Decision-Making

If you have a plan for how to handle major decisions it may save you a lot of time and anxiety, waffling back and forth unsure of how to proceed. The following guidelines can help you find clarity and avoid conflict: Define the problem or conflict. Write down a question or a statement that accurately represents what you need to decide.

Brainstorm for possible solution. Write down everything. At this point make no judgments about the rightness, wrongness or do-ability of any suggestions. Be creative and bold with your suggestions. Write down all you can think of and then take a short break and add two or three more.

Share your feelings. One at a time, share your feelings about the problem. Remember that feelings are not wrong or right, they just are. Just listen to each other and do your best to hear and understand what your partner is sharing until you both feel heard and understood.

Evaluate possible solutions. Separately evaluate the pros and cons for each of the possible solutions and then share your evaluation with your partner. This process helps to clarify your thoughts and helps you to better understand your partner's perspective.

Wait. If at all possible, allow at least a day before making the final decision. This allows for some space to see how the solutions “sit” with you before committing yourself to a final decision.

Discuss and decide. Each describe what you want to happen and share any concerns you may still have. If you both have chosen the same solution, great. If you have not both chosen the same solution, then discuss possible compromises until you come up with a solution that works for both of you. You can repeat any of the above steps if needed.

Commit.Once you have reach an agreement it is important that you both commit to the solution. Smile and proceed with full effort and work as a team to make the best possible resolution.

Choose Wisely

Life is all about choices. The state of our relationship is the result of the choices that we have made to this point. If we want to change our relationship we may need to learn to chose more wisely. Consider the following story:

Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!" He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life." I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Happiness Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.

I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?" I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.

Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'"

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

Take a close look at your relationship. If you are not where you want to be right now, ask yourself, How have my choices brought me to this? Decide right now, this minute, to begin making choices that will take you to where you want to be. Decide to be alive in your relationship. Choose to react with love and acceptance. Choose happiness and peace. Choose to be the best you that you can be.