Right and wrong versus better possibilities

sometimes you just have to make a decission

With decision making, sometimes there is no right or wrong choice. One choice isn't necessarily better than the other. In such cases, what matters is that you make a choice so that you can move forwards.

An important point here is that you won't be able to know whether your choice was good or bad (or neither) till you make the choice and act on it.

The thing is, once you act on a choice, you open up to more possibilities. And those might include better possibilities.

What do do if you are stuck
Outward bound in the jungles of far north Queensland

I experienced this on an Outward bound course in the far north of Queensland in Australia. Our group had been stuck for hours trying to figure out where we were on the map. there were no really truly distinguishable landmarks and so we spent hours arguing on where we actually were. Finally our guide stood up. He'd left us to see if we could figure it out for ourselves but we didn't. So he told us, if were we are at has no distinguishable landmarks that make it easy to figure out where we are on the map, then move. Move so that we can find a place that does have easy to recognize landmarks.

And so we moved. We then found a place with an easy to recognize landmark. And we also found a really nice place to camp that night.

So if you are stuck for choice, or if there are no good choices, change something so that better possibilities present themselves.

In the case of trying to figure out where we were, we had to move, to get a different perspective.

Sometimes you just need to get started

When I was in university, one of my professors explained this to us. If nothing else, create a prototype. It doesn't matter if it works or not. Create a prototype, a model.

It's very easy, when starting a project, to stay in "idea space", i.e. make plans without actually doing something. However, you'll never get something perfect right away. And so the best thing you can do is to create a model of what you are trying to do. In the process you'll have something to work on, something to improve.

Note that the mindset here isn't "getting it right". It's building something that you can actually interact with

Choosing to change the limits of your experience

For myself, having to lead a yoga class and not being sure where to start, I'll start with something small, something that is easy to focus on. So the toes or ankles, or wrists or fingers, or the neck. These are things I don't always pay attention to, and I'm pretty sure my students don't either.

But these are all isolated body parts.

And that's a way to think of isolation. You create limits, a box if you like, to play within. You could make a box that is smaller than your usual one or bigger. In either case, vary the limits so that you have new limits (knew) to play within.

Choosing to change perspective

And as for perspective, one way to gain perspective is to look back on prior experiences. You can choose what you look back on, but if you are feeling down, one suggestion I would make is to look back on experiences that make you laugh or smile. Note that when you do this you are working in "imaginary space". And so as well as going back in time, you can also go forwards, you can imagine things that make you happy. And even though it's imaginary, it can affect you, and if people see you smiling at something you've imagined, it can make them smile also.

Redefine the limits and/or change your perspective

So how do you make making choices easier? By limiting them. When you have lots of choices, reduce the options by dividing into groups small enough that you can make easy decisions. You could think of this as the world cup technique for decision making.

Another option is to change perspective. This is like an artist taking a step back from their art to get a sense of the bigger picture.

I was once doing a wood carvinig from a picture of Rachel Mclish. I was so involved in my work that when I finally did take a step back I realized that I'd made her boobs bigger than her head. So when I got back to work the first thing I did was give her a boob reduction. And so you could think of a change in perspective as the boob reduction technique for decision making. Or alternatively it's the "walk till you can find an easy to recognize landmark so that you can figure out where you are on the map technique".

Sometimes a change of perspective comes from venturing into imaginary space. Sometimes you just need to making a decision so that better possibilities can present themselves.

Spirals in space

One more idea about perspective. When I was in uni (and it may have even been before then studying A-level maths) we learned about Laplace transforms. The underlying notion was that if you have a spiral, you can look at it from the end and see a circle or look at it from the side and see a sinusoidal wave form. The reason we learned this was to make problem solving easier. We would switch from one view to another, solve the problem, then go back to the easier view. The idea here was that switching points of view could make solving problems easier.

Published: 2020 09 01

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