So what if I went really early? That way I could beat the traffic and have a couple hours of focused work time before the office filled up. And how can I make the coffee shop dream come true?
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Or I could try to find another coffee shop where I could go in the afternoons, which is normally when I feel the most restless at home anyway. And on and on. As you can see, it takes work.
Research from Ohio State University has found that when we generate at least 3 options to consider, the quality of our decisions goes way up. Jay is certainly headed for a better overall relationship with his work life than before, which really comes down to a series of decisions. But what if it is possible? The predominant quality of successful people is optimism.
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Your level of optimism is the very best predictor of how happy, healthy, wealthy and long-lived you will be. Engaging Intrinsic Motivation means being energized and driven by personal values and commitments rather than by external forces. What do I really want? Do you tend to look in yourself for motivation and validation, or to others? Turns out, those who go inward for motivation tend to make better decisions, per research from Six Seconds.
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To understand intrinsic motivation and its impact on decision making, let me introduce you to Melissa. Melissa, and millions of other people, are simply acting out the same reward system they internalized as a kid for so many years. Melissa has an admirable work ethic and is a really phenomenal employee. She wants to get things done, do them well, and be praised for her work. Even though she has only worked at this startup for about 9 months, she has already established quite the reputation as a deliverer.
But because of that, they keep giving her more and more projects, which she feels like she has to do, even if it means working late into the evening, and coming in on weekends, at the expense of her wellbeing. So what would happen if she really dug deep into the well of her own intrinsic motivation? When 5 pm rolls around and she is still in the thick of a project she wanted to get done, her focus would shift, as she makes a decision about what to do, to her values: What should I consider as I decide what to do?
She could push through the exhaustion to get the job done, as she has done hundreds of times. This is not a process that Melissa, or anyone, can do in the stressful moments of trying to finish a project before the day ends. That is a time to pause and check how your decision stacks up against your values, not to articulate those values. And once again, it takes work!
This process of articulating those values and constantly checking how decisions stack up to them is the skill of engaging intrinsic motivation. It helps me to write them down and have a physical reminder to refer back to. As she hones this skill of going inward for motivation instead of looking outward, the quality of her decisions goes up, and along with it her well being, quality of life, and even effectiveness.
On the one hand, it seems like that could be bad for business. What if Melissa decides to leave before that project gets done?
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But research consistently finds that this would be good not only for Melissa, but for the startup, too. And when she is only focused on external motivators and pleasing others, that is a recipe for burnout. Melissa taking care of herself could mean staying at the company longer it normally does , and actually contributing more value. By focusing on her own values, she brings more value to the company over the long haul. The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence Get Your eBook Is it good business to encourage employees to take care of themselves, even if it means leaving before a project gets finished?
Pursuing a noble goal means connecting your everyday decisions to your bigger sense of purpose. What do you want to contribute to the world? And are your decisions getting you closer to that? You make your legacy with every moment of every day, with every decision. Beth has been an entrepreneur for decades. She started her own catering business at a time when not many women took the risk to venture out on their own, and had become quite successful.
By the looks of it from an outside perspective, she had made it. She had wealth, stability, and renown in her community.
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She had the means to retire and kept working anyway. That is not to say that she, or other people who score low in pursue noble goals, always makes bad decisions. But on a personal level, she tends to make decisions based on very short-term criteria — such as what will give her a temporary energy or mood boost, which for her, is actually working incessantly and growing her business. In fact, she has been so committed to her business for so long that nearly all her decisions revolve around helping her clients. And this has left her, especially in the last couple years of her life, with a real empty feeling.
An aching feeling that something vital is missing, and that often turns into prolonged episodes of depression and anxiety. At the EQ Practitioner course, Beth participated in an exercise that really struck a chord with her. The facilitator led the class through an exercise where she imagined her own funeral:. Who is there and what are they saying about you? Does this match what you would want them to say? She realized that she had work to do. That the empty feeling that kept coming back stemmed largely from a lack of focus on the long-term.
She had been so focused on the short-term — all the things she needed to do to be a successful businesswoman — that she gave little to no thought to this bigger picture. Through that exercise and in subsequent sessions on pursuing a noble goal, Beth started the process of uncovering what her noble goal is, what legacy she wants to leave. Many people see decision making as an analytical process that, if done right, is guaranteed to lead to nice outcomes.
They believe that if they just think hard and long enough , great outcomes will result from their decisions.
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The truth is: no matter how much effort you put in, no decision outcome can be better than the best alternative you considered. And no amount of analysis or systematic thinking will change that. Having a good amount of alternatives to explore and choose from, then, is essential for making great decisions. The more important a decision is, the more time you should spend on it. Well, just like with many other things in life, common sense does not equal common practice. These are two very different concepts.
Let me illustrate. One is slightly cheaper, but the other is slightly more reliable. The closest your alternatives are, the harder it is to decide. And, perversely, the less relevant your decision will be one way or another! As a wise decision-maker, you will realize that if alternatives are very close to each other in value, it matters less which one you picks. You should save your energy for more important decisions — those with very different payoffs. For instance, to generate good alternatives, you must be creative and non-judgmental. But to ultimately make up your mind, you need to be judgmental.
In that context, I strongly advise that you see the decision making process as a chain of separate steps. Isolate each step, going into different thinking modes in turn in order to make the best possible decision. Skip to content M aking great decisions can be tricky: there are many hidden traps and potential roadblocks you need to be aware of. Value is in the eye of the beholder How much is a gallon of water worth? How to Apply This Insight Always decide on your own. How to Apply This Insight Be clear about your goals before deciding.