Don't Let Your Feelings Make Your Decisions for You

Feelings. We all have them... every day...all the time. You can be laughing one minute and crying the next. Oh, is that just me? Okay, so even if it’s not that extreme, we all have waves of emotions throughout our day.

What we do with our emotions and how we react is what separates so many of us.

By definition, feelings are strong internal responses that ultimately manifest in changes in the body. Sometimes these changes are positive and sometimes they can be negative. They can be helpful navigators as well as hurtful deceivers. It’s impossible to say feelings are either good or bad. It’s normally what follows the emotions and feelings that determine the label.

Feelings are one of the greatest parts of our being and also can be one of our greatest distractors.

Being led only by what we feel at the moment or for a season can deter us from some of our great triumphs.  

Has there ever been a time that you have had a goal, a plan, a clear view about where you are headed, then suddenly there is a distraction? Let’s call it an obstacle or a problem. You work at getting beyond it and making it go away, and to be honest, it’s a lot of work. It’s downright exhausting. You wake up, and it’s dissipated and almost totally removed. But now you’re left with lingering emotions. The feeling of defeat.

Yep, even when we overcome something, we may still feel defeated emotionally. Feeling unmotivated, embarrassed, discouraged, and without direction can paralyze us. These feelings sometimes last a moment and we get on with it, or they may overtake us to the point of never reaching our ultimate potential.  

The opposite emotions are also able to distract us and take us off course as well. That excited feeling of an accomplishment may lead to so much celebrating that you forget to keep working—the feeling that everything is going so well with our business that we take our eye off the path of growth and lose sight of day-to-day operations that should be addressed.

Hey, feelings are amazing and can be great, right? Love, joy, excitement, and anticipation are some of my favorites.

Being self aware and not entirely led by your feelings is an art we need to master.

Is that pit in your stomach or eerie feeling telling you that something is wrong for you and you shouldn’t go in that direction? Or could those same feelings be fear of stepping out into something new? Same feeling + different interpretation = different results. 

A feeling that overtakes so many of us who are creatives and business owners is the feeling of excitement and attraction to new things. Sometimes lovingly referred to as “squirrel!” (or in my case, “shiny objects”), we run towards that sudden feeling of excitement, being included, and fun like it’s our job.

Being able to distinguish “fun because we love what we do and this is a good fun thing that gets us to our goals” from the very different “fun that’s a huge distraction from everything that I was supposed to accomplish” is key to being successful. Same feeling + different interpretation = different results.

Think about all of the things that you do in a day that you may not exactly feel like doing. Laundry, dishes, and ironing are the first things that come to my mind. You don’t have to do them if you don’t feel like it. You can live with the consequences of dirty smelly clothes, nothing clean to eat from, and wrinkled shirts. That choice is totally up to you.

In the same vein, if you don’t feel like getting up and going to work, making sales calls, and paying your bills, you will find a different set of results from living with those feeling-based decisions. Broke and cold are just starters in the list of consequences from not doing what you need to succeed. Okay, maybe you won’t be totally broke, but discouragement could be a huge result of not doing what you don’t feel like doing. You may end up in the same stagnant place in your life because of being led only by feelings and not a plan and strategy.

I most certainly have not mastered my emotions and have allowed some decisions to come from my feelings. However, there are a few things that I have implemented in my life that have really helped me decipher my feelings, especially when it comes to making decisions.

First off, I try to do the “20-second rule” before I jump into something that sounds super fun or like a good idea at the time.

The “20-second rule” is not necessarily 20 seconds; it’s just a term I use as a guideline to remember to stop and think before you jump.

When you are feeling like you need to do something, whether it be big or small, whether it’s a great idea or a major change, motivating yourself to move forward or to back off, or maybe it’s simply to make a call to encourage someone or to confront or complain to them about something, ask yourself these questions first:

  • Will this decision benefit my life or someone else’s life?
  • Is there something that can be learned from this choice?  
  • Does this decision stand the test of time? (Will you think this was a good idea next week, next year?)
  • Is this in line with your vision for you, your family, your relationships, and business?  

Taking a minute to think before you act when you are infuriated, elated, or simply melancholy can make a world of difference on the outcome of your day, week, and your whole life. Just “20 seconds” of perspective goes a long way.

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