Big Decisions: When All Else Fails, Play Solitaire

You know, I admit I am the world’s guiltiest at checking out or shutting down when a big decision has to be made. I have a tendency to overwhelm myself with all of the nuisances of the decision and eventually, I just shut down. I have a feeling I am not the only one. The rational mind has the ability to process a large amount of information simultaneously; however, the cognitive portion of our brain can only sort our thoughts out at a certain speed. Sometimes, the overwhelming amount of information we feel we need can actually work to our detriment.

So what do you do when you feel yourself shutting down?

Find One Point of Clarity

Decide on one point you feel very strongly about. In my experience, once I have made the decision and commitment to one thought or action, I can move on to processing other items fairly easy. The best example of this looking at a knot of yarn. Trying to figure out which string to pull can completely overwhelm you. What I tend to do is pull a couple of strings, I usually find one that moves more than the others. At that point, I pick that as my focus point and before long, the knot is not so intimidating. I know it’s a crazy analogy, but if you think about it, big decisions can often appear to be similar to a giant knot. You just need to find that one string you are committed to and begin unraveling.

Got Music?

Being a musician, I often find music can take my mind off of whatever I am facing and help me relax enough to find some clarity. If you find yourself melting down, step back from the decision, put on Pandora or your favorite playlist and commit yourself to listening to at least five songs before tackling the decision or problem again. There are numerous studies showing the powerful effects music has on our brain. Also, when solving a problem or making a big decision, we often use the more rational, logical side of our brains. Embracing music allows the other side of the brain to kick in, thus giving our logic some time to rest and oftentimes, process the decision in the background.

Take a Break

This sounds crazy, but sometimes, when looking at a problem/decision for too long, you tend to lose focus.

Taking a break could include something like taking a walk, calling a friend, or,if you are in the United States Senate, you can play solitaire, check your Facebook or the most recent sports scores. I agree with a decision like whether to shut down the government or make some major cuts in the budget is at hand, the more lighthearted thing would be to listen to all of the sides and come to some type of resolution, but let’s face it, all of us need to take a break every once in a while.

So, when in doubt, play solitaire. Who knows, if you do it well enough, you might find yourself in the Senate, after all, distraction seems to be one of the major job descriptions for our elected officials!

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help organizations incorporate best practices into their business to help them succeed. In his free time, he also writes a lot on his other blog, Christian Men, Christian Warrior.

For my professional resume, click here.

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