~ Article written by L. Michael Hall PhD ~
I started out the day intent on counting the total number of decisions that I tyically make within the time frame of one day. My first decision occurred when I sensed morning light coming into the bedroom, that’s when I decided to look at the clock, it was 6:15 a.m. I then decided to push the button that turned on the radio. I decided to listen to the news. Soon I decided to get up, then more decisions in the bathroom, and even more decisions about getting dressed, which sock to put on first, etc. I decided to do my morning exercises (crunches and pushups), I decided to go downstairs, I decided to eat breakfast which included multiple decisions about what to eat, what to prepare, how to prepare, etc. Later I decided to go to Starbucks which entailed dozens more of decisions, to turn this corner, to wait for that truck, to … It soon became overwhelming. I hit more than 200 decisions in the first hour.

Decisions govern our lives.

Most are ordinary and either are barely conscious or so completely automatic that they are totally unconscious. Previous thinking and deciding about various things have now become automatic decisions that operate as my “way of being in the world.” Previous learnings created decisions that now comprise my lifestyle. Decisions mold and form and engineer our lives.
Then there are the circumstances that I default to (an implicit decision) that actually replaces or substitute for a conscious decision. I decide to take Elm Street because I can see construction up ahead on 7th Street. I didn’t really want to go down Elm Street, but I also didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic. The decision didn’t seem like a decision, that choice seemed determined by that circumstance.

Conscious Decisions

Then there are the conscious decisions that determine and govern life today and life into the future. “Should I say yes to this project or not?” “How can I say no to this request without hurting her feelings?” These are the decisions that we struggle with- we consider the pros and cons on each side of the decision. And if there are several choices, then we have multiple sets of pros-and-cons. And so we go back and forth between saying yes to the choice or no. All of this also influences my identity: Am I a decisive person or not? Am I indecisive?

Pausing to Think

Now to create high-quality decisions in all of these cases, you have to pause in order to think. Otherwise you will be merely reacting to events and circumstances and defaulting to old programs that actualize previous thinking. And that may not be good for you. To switch off the autopilot – you now have to step back (go meta) to gain perspective-to see the larger picture and to consider what is really important to you. This means becoming mindful of your values and the criteria that you set for what is truly important.

To decide

You first have to define what’s meaningful to you, what you consider significant to your overall well-being, and set your highest intentions. Otherwise you will just be engaged in wishful thinking.
This process shows up in Meta-Coaching in several ways. We begin every coaching session by inviting the prelude of a decision by asking for the person’s agenda, wants, dreams, hopes as we ask, “What do you want from this coaching conversation that will make the most transformative difference in your life?” This starts the deciding as it invites the client to make a
choice- “What should I bring up?” In making this decision, the person will either talk about what he positively wants (a toward-value) or what he does not want (an away-from value or dis-value). More decisions then arise as we ask a series of well-formed outcome questions-
“What will that look like or sound like when you get it?” “Why is that important to you?” “When do you want that?” “What do you have to do to get what you want?”

leading and facilitating

Through the process of leading and facilitating the well-formed outcome conversation, the client evidentially sets the agenda and creates (or co-creates with the coach) a desired outcome for the coaching and for her life. This is the first pause, the second one comes next as we inquire about the values and dis-values of taking actions to make the decision real.
This involves identifying all of the values and benefits of the objective as well as the dis-values and costs. Both sides are critical for truly being mindful of what a person will gain and the price one will pay for that gain.
At an even higher level, we often step back for yet another pause. This is the pause of considering the standards or criteria that a person is using- against which the decisions are made. To make a decision, you make it against some criteria.
What are you treating as most important? Is it time, money, health, energy, joy, accomplishment, achievement, efficiency, recognition, respect, etc.?


Pausing here to look at your criteria and the prioritization of your criteria enables you (and your clients) to be much more thoughtful, mindful, and reflective in decision-making. Doing this enables you to become truly discerning in the decision-making process. Yes, you can make many decisions quickly and within a split second and for the everyday kind of decisions that we make minute by minute, that’s usually fine. Yet for truly high-quality decisions, you’ll want to pause- step back- get mindful -elicit your highest values in order to make great decisions that you’ll be proud of. Pausing and thinking enables you to access some of your highest executive thinking powers. Anyone can learn how to do this through decisive education at The Coaching Centre

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