One thing I am loving about coaching is that I get to enter into someone’s life or business as a co-mind on decision points. Coaching helps people not only make better decisions, but also identify when a decision needs to be made, or doesn’t.

A key question to ask yourself about a certain action is: Am I doing this as a result of a conscious decision? Or is the action the result of unconscious inertia?

Unconscious inertia is when your actions are the result of not questioning the status quo, or the decision process gets stuck just below the surface of active thinking and awareness.

Four random examples:

1.) A small firm has grown to the point where it could justify hiring another employee to share the workload. Hiring the employee would bring more breathing room into the schedules of the principal or owners. However, hiring the employee is risky. What if business trends down? Nobody wants to have to lay someone off. And so, nothing is done.

But there’s a decision point in there. Maybe, the risk of hiring an employee is too great and you make the decision not to proceed. That’s OK. Or maybe, after some more financial analysis on risk/reward, you feel confident opening the position and seeking the right hire. If I were coaching such a scenario, I’d also gently point out that interviewing candidates is still not hiring them, it’s just exploring a potential future reality and seeing how it sits with you.

2.) A couple has lived together for seven years — ever since graduating college. They are approaching age 30 and have not married. Days pass and no decision is made. Is it possible to make a decision that takes unconscious inertia and replaces it with decided action? Especially with something as big and sometimes scary as committing to a life partner, you can use smaller decisions to lead to bigger decisions. Maybe you even decide to not decide until a future date. What good does that do? It forces conscious thinking into your actions.

3.) One of my favorite decisions is choosing to invest in a sabbatical, a period of time to honor one’s life transition and figure out one’s next step. Isn’t that a beautiful decision? You’re not picking your next step, you’re deciding to give yourself time to decide. Then, your days are considered and active. (Plug: A sabbatical is a great time to invest in yourself with a professional coach.)

4.) You invested in a stock and it’s moved in a particular direction, or has done nothing at all. Do you buy, sell, or hold? Buying or selling are obviously the result of a conscious decision. “Holding” should be, too.  (…Gosh, I love the lessons of the stock market — are they not applicable to life, or what?)

So long as you’re not causing undue pain to others, there is probably no right or wrong decision.

Just don’t let unconscious inertia decide for you.


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