298: The Power of Imperfect Decisions | Tanya Dalton Skip to the content
Intentional Advantage Podcast with Tanya Dalton and John Dalton The power of imperfect decisions
April 30, 2024   |   Episode #:

298: The Power of Imperfect Decisions

In This Episode:

Is the fear of making the wrong decision paralyzing you from taking the leap? You are not alone, so many people find themselves overwhelmed in the quest for the perfect decision. But here’s the truth: the right choice is hard to know while you are in the moment. In today’s episode we share the personal journey of our son, Jack’s, college decision-making saga, unveil the unconventional “decision doughnut”, and explore why embracing your emotions could be the secret weapon in effective decision-making. We tackle a listener’s question about career transitions at any age, proving it’s never too late to choose your path intentionally.

Show Transcript:

Watch the Podcast

The Big Idea

Make better decisions with emotions.

Questions I Answer

  • How can I make better decisions in life?
  • What are effective decision-making strategies?
  • How do I know if I’m making the right choice?
  • What are the most important factors when making a decision?

Topics Covered

    • Decision Making
    • College Planning Strategies
    • Determining Important Criteria for Decisions
    • Maximizers vs. Satisficers
    • Pro-Con List Limitations
    • Emotions with Decision Making
  • The Brain and Emotions in Decisions
  • Paradox of Choice
  • Teenagers and Decision Making

Key Moments in the Show

[02:06] A Chance to Win Prizes

[06:38] The Paradox of Choice

[07:50] Are Decisions Emotional?

[12:23] Why Do Kids Make Bad Decisions

[14:42] How Do I Know If I’ve Made a Good Decision?

[16:46] Letting Go of Good vs Bad

[20:04] The Two Types of Decision Makers

[23:17] How to Make Better Decisions

[24:27] How To Decide Where To Go for College

[31:57] Making Big Decisions

Resources and Links

Show Transcript

Tanya Dalton: Hello. Hello everyone. And welcome to the Intentional Advantage Podcast. I’m your host Tanya Dalton. This is episode 298. I’ve got a fun show planned for you because today’s show has been driven by one of my readers over at Not Rocket Science, the sub stack that I have.

And she asked me a question. We’ll get into that in a few minutes. She asked me a question and I thought, you know what, this would be a fantastic podcast episode. So today we are going to be talking about decision making because, this season we’re talking all about what sparks joy in your life.

Does your life spark joy? Oh my gosh, there’s so many decisions we make on a daily basis. We make big decisions and small decisions, decisions about what to make for dinner, decisions about which route to take to work. There are so many decisions in our lives. We want to feel confident. We want to feel comfortable that we’re making the ones that feel right for us.

So in today’s episode, we are going to be talking about how do you make decisions? Do you need to take the emotions out of your decision making? Or are emotions actually important for your decision making? We’re going to talk about maximizers and satisfisers. which type of decision maker you are.

And we’re going to talk about how you can really start making it very clear as to what choices are the right ones for you. So let’s go ahead and get started with today’s show.

Does your life spark joy? I’m not asking if your life is good or if life feels okay. Does it spark joy? When was the last time you slipped into bed at night and thought, today felt amazing? Because if it’s been more than two or three days, that’s too long. I’m Tanya Dalton, a best selling author, motivational speaker, seven figure entrepreneur, and oh yeah, wife and mom.

So I get it. I understand the stress of daily life. As a productivity expert, I’m here to help you choose the extraordinary life. This season, we will be exploring how we can create more joy and intention into every single day. And it doesn’t have to be so hard. This is The Intentional Advantage.

[00:02:06] A Chance to Win Prizes

Tanya Dalton: Okay, we can’t start this episode without talking about the elephant in the room, which is Happy May! I can’t believe it’s May already! Okay, I technically know that the day this goes live is April 30th, but I’m gonna really focus in on the fact that it’s basically May.

And May is, in my opinion, the best month of the entire year because It’s birthday month. I love my birthday. It makes me so happy. John is already cringing with the fact that I’ve already moved May up a full day because he knows that I, I just have so much fun. I love my birthday. And this year is, it’s a big one.

This is a big year because not only is it birthday month, this is my 50th birthday month. I am turning 50. at the end of May, and I am so excited about it. I love my birthday. And what I love about my birthday is I do a lot of fun things. There’s lots of presents. And there’s lots of presents for other people because I love giving presents.

So I thought, you know what? Not only is it my 50th birthday this month, it’s also the 300th episode of the intentional advantage. So there’s so much to celebrate and I wanted to do something a little more fun. So I thought, you know what? I don’t want to ask for presents. I don’t want a bunch of gifts. I really just want to give you, my amazing, fantastic listeners, presents.

So, what if I ask you for a really simple gift? And in return, I give you a couple prizes. I’m thinking that if you will share about my brand new substack. I’m calling it brand new, but it’s really a couple of months old at this point, but my new substack, Not Rocket Science, which ties in with everything we do here on the podcast.

If you will share about that new substack, I will give you prizes. So you’ll get access to the premium access level of Not Rocket Science, which means you get all the extras, the bonuses, the downloads, all the things. But what if we make it extra special and we do a special tier that if you refer a certain number of people, you can You can win a 30 minute consult with me.

I don’t normally do 30 minute consults, but I think it’d be a lot of fun. And I think we’d have a great time chatting about maybe something you need help with or something you want to work through a system, something you’re struggling with.

So why don’t we do that this, this May? Because I think it’d be fun. Okay. It’s a great way to celebrate my birthday. It’s a great way to celebrate the 300th episode. If you are not in my Not Rocket Science substack, go to tanyadalton.com/connect. And that’s where we’ll get started. And so I’ll send out all the details through the newsletter.

There’s lots of information in the newsletter every week. Almost always ties in with what we’re doing here on the podcast. Sign up for that. You’ll get all the info, but let’s, let’s have a fantastic May. There’s so much to celebrate. All right. And speaking of the Substack, John, you’ve been very quiet here.

John Dalton: Is it because you’re already cringing thinking about the fact that it’s birthday month? Yeah, I’m trying to figure out. Oh boy. I I have to start a day early this year and it is a big year so there’s a lot of pressure. I have to deliver right but really we joke about it because it really is a lot of fun for everybody, me included. It’s just one of those things that we like to have a lot of fun Bantering back and forth with each other about oh god.

Here we go again. Tanya’s birthday month It’s going to be insufferable, but it’s really a lot of fun. I think the ideas to give away some stuff to sub stack readers are great so i’m really excited about that and the 300 episode happening at the same time I mean, it’s it’s a really exciting month.

So You know, we we joke about it, but it’s it is a lot of fun for not just you but for everybody

Tanya Dalton: Yeah, well, I never want to be at that point where I’m not looking forward to my birthday. I don’t think I’ve ever had a birthday that I’ve not been excited about. So, I think the fact that it’s 50, I kind of was wondering if I would feel differently about this. And this is definitely what we’re going to be talking about later on this month as part of the podcast is aging.

And as we age, how we’re feeling about it. I’m really excited about it. the fact that I’m turning 50 feels like this amazing milestone. It’s not something that I’m dreading or I’m worrying about. I’m excited about it. So I think it’s going to be a fun May. And I felt like to kick off May and talking about how we want people to share about the substack.

[00:06:38] A Reader Question About Decision Making

Tanya Dalton: What I love about the substack is that it has created this channel of communication back and forth. And a lot of times in the past, I have felt like it’s just me talking on the podcast. This has created this great back and forth.

And a great example of that is actually what inspired today’s episode, because I posted over on not rocket science on the sub stack. I posted a question saying, Hey, if you and I were to meet for coffee, what would you want to ask me about?

What kinds of questions would you have? And I had a lot of people who answered that question.

And I have certainly some ideas for some episodes that came from that. But I also got some private messages, just some replies to the email that came directly to my inbox. And one of them was from Liz and that inspired today’s episode because Liz emailed me and she said,

I’m 64 years old and I want to pursue new career adventures. With all the new stuff that’s out there to earn money or to just enjoy working, I’m not sure where to start finding these different types of opportunities– work from home or whatever. Do you have any ideas of where I can begin looking?

This is such an overwhelming task.

I love this question from Liz and I answered her and I’ll answer it more at the end, but

[00:07:50] The Paradox of Choice

Tanya Dalton: it got me thinking about this idea and this concept of decision making because I feel like in today’s world, there are so many options and so many opportunities.

We’re seeing this actually with Jack, our 21 year old who is going back to school. He took a year off, went to Costa Rica. We had talked about that a couple episodes back. Going back to school, feeling really overwhelmed with the number of opportunities. And it seems like it should be one of those things where it’s like, wow, we have all these choices, all these options.

But instead of feeling like, wow, this is great. We end up feeling overwhelmed.

John Dalton: Yeah, and with Jack in particular, trying to figure out what his next chapter in his life was does feel very daunting, so having conversations and we’ve been through some of this stuff with him before. seeing how he would work through that decision and having those conversations with him it was, it was.

Enlightening to see that. Oh, he’s he’s made a lot of progress, but these are still big decisions and you know you need to have a process in a way to Think about it and address it so that you don’t Spend too much time whether that’s on research or something else because Decisions can be hard and I think it’s okay that they’re hard

Tanya Dalton: the paradox of choice, which we have definitely talked about on the podcast before. Barry Schwartz pioneered this whole study with the paradox of choice,

where it feels like the more choices we have, the more opportunity we feel. But in fact, once you get over seven choices, you suddenly feel stymied and you feel stuck.

And he even talks about it in terms of being in the salad dressing aisle, where there used to just be like, ranch, blue cheese, vinaigrette. Now there’s like three million types of salad dressings when you go to the grocery store. And sometimes you’re standing there and you’re like, I have no idea which one I want.

And you end up just feeling stuck. First of all, spending way too much time feeling like you’re spinning your wheels, standing in the salad dressing aisle. I mean, nobody wants that. And it’s the same thing in life is there’s this paradox of choice And we get frustrated with ourselves. We feel like this shouldn’t be so hard.

I’m sure with Liz, who’s thinking I’m 64 years old. I’ve made lots of decisions in my life. Why is this so difficult? truth is, what we’ve been told about decision making is all wrong.

[00:10:14] Are Decisions Emotional?

Tanya Dalton: All the things we’ve been told historically about take the emotions out of it, don’t be emotional, just be very logical and make the decisions, is the absolute worst advice.


When it comes to decision making, we think that we’re rational, but decisions are intrinsically tied to our emotions. They’re tied to the emotions in our brain, and you cannot actually separate the two.

decision making happens in the prefrontal cortex of our brain, which happens to be the same spot in our brain where our emotions are stored as well.

And, you know, John, you and I have been talking about some of this research and diving into some of these studies. I found it fascinating that when people have these brain injuries, where their emotions are stifled, suddenly they cannot make any decisions.

John Dalton: Yeah, that was I don’t want to say shocking, but it was very surprising You Because you would think the opposite, right? If somebody did not have that emotional noise clouding what decision they’re trying to make, then it would be so much easier to logically see the differences between different things and decide, well, obviously this one is a better choice.

but it, it’s totally the opposite with these people that have these brain injuries where they’re literally incapable of making a decision.

Tanya Dalton: Yes they couldn’t even decide what kind of sandwich to make. That’s how debilitating it can be when they have these brain injuries specifically to that one area of the brain. And they’ve done these MRI studies, these fMRI studies, where they look at all the different areas.

The other areas are all working great. The logical part of the brain, the, all these different parts are working fantastically. The relational part of the brain. It’s just this one area When it gets damaged, your decision making skills just fall off a cliff. It’s kind of amazing. And I think that explains a lot about why we cannot take our emotions out of it.

That old advice, remove the emotions, doesn’t work because literally, that’s not how our brain works.

[00:12:23] Why Do Kids Make Bad Decisions

Tanya Dalton: And I think, too, this actually explains a lot about why teenagers and young kids make a lot of bad decisions. As a mother of one who just got out of the teenage years and one in it, you see them making decisions and you’re like, Oh God, what are they doing? But their brains are not fully developed in a lot of these areas, especially with the hormones and everything else going on. Trying to make these decisions is actually very difficult for them. And so I think understanding that that circuitry. Is not connected makes it so much easier to stand back and go, Oh, this is why they’re struggling to make better decisions.

This is why I’ve struggled to make good decisions.

John Dalton: I think so and you know when you think about it, taking your salad dressing example, right? And it’s even worse now because right you have these salad dressings on the shelf And then you have the ones over in the produce like refrigerated section So there’s two places you have to go for salad dressings and it’s overwhelming and you don’t have time to do all the research So you need something that?

gives you the ability to make that decision. And I think that’s where the emotional prefrontal cortex comes into play. And with kids, when they, their brains are not developed, they can’t make the right decision, certainly most of the time, right? Because they don’t have those connections built in their brain.

And it’s difficult to watch them make those mistakes. But I think sometimes. By making those mistakes, that’s what makes those connections, right? So we can’t save them from all of those bad decisions, even as often as we want to. But, they do really struggle, especially with, with big decisions like, where do I want to go for college?

I mean, that’s kind of the, the first huge decision a lot of these kids face. and it could be debilitating for them. I know it was very difficult for Jack when we started his junior year in high school.

Tanya Dalton: Oh, I wouldn’t even say his junior year. That kid was stressed about it. Like in fifth grade, what if I don’t know where I want to go to college? What if I don’t know what I want to do? What if I, he was always our worrier, which is why I think it’s so funny that he is now leaving to go travel through Europe for two months by himself with just a backpack, right?

I mean, but it is because. There’s been lots of decisions he’s made in the past. He’s strengthened up that muscle. And I think part of it is we’ve talked to him quite a bit about decision making and

[00:14:42] How Do I Know If I’ve Made a Good Decision?

Tanya Dalton: understanding There is no perfect decision.

I think that’s the thing that, that really most people struggle with is they want to make the right decision.

And the problem is quite frankly, we don’t know a good decision in the moment. We often can only know if something was a good decision when we’re looking in the rear view mirror. When we’re looking back after the passage of time, we can go, Oh, that was a good decision. I’m so glad I did that. In the moment though, there was still the anxiety, there was still the stress.

There was still a lot of that uncertainty where you’re like, I don’t know if this is good or bad or right or wrong. And so it is, a lot of it is letting go of that need to be right. Yes. Or for it to be good. Because the truth is, we have to let go of this idea of good decisions and bad decisions. So many times, we don’t know if something is good or bad.

We really don’t. John, you and I were talking about this a while back. That if we look at our timeline, and the things that happen to us, there are things that in the moment, we judged as good. Or bad, right? The guy who broke up with me, before I met John, that was a terrible thing. It was awful. Oh my gosh, the melodrama of it all. I thought it was bad in the moment. Clearly though, great. I’m so glad. I’m so glad he broke up with me now as an almost 50 year old because if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t be with John where I am happy. And how many other things in our timeline did we judge as bad or terrible? that actually turned out to be good or amazing or incredible.

How many things that we thought were good, Oh, good. This guy is working out that actually ended up being bad because you know, six months down the road, you want to break up with him or you marry somebody and you realize later, Oh, I thought it was great, but it wasn’t. So again, we don’t really know that until we’ve had the passage of time.

[00:16:46] Letting Go of Good vs Bad

Tanya Dalton: So one of the things I’ve been working on is letting go of this idea or this concept of good versus bad. This is a good thing that’s happening or this is a bad thing that’s happening. The truth is we have no idea in the moment because in our timeline all we can see is this tiny little swath of time.

We can see behind us and we can see right where we are. This whole thing in front of us, this whole timeline. All these years ahead of us, we have no idea what’s going to happen. So that’s the first thing that I would say is let go of the idea that we have to make a good decision because truly some of my, you could say worst decisions turned out to be great because I got so much knowledge out of it.

I got so much wisdom out of it and they didn’t feel amazing at the time when they were bad decisions. But I’m grateful for them now because they gave me a lot. We talk about my backpack, right? We talk about the idea and that concept of your backpack as you go through life and you’re gathering together the wisdom and the knowledge and the experiences and the failures, the failures were a lot of bad decisions.

And thank goodness I have them because that’s made me so much smarter. And that’s made me so much better and stronger and more self assured. I like what you said there, John, about we want to save our kids from making these bad decisions. This is the hardest part of parenting, quite frankly, is hands off. Watching them make choices, watching them make decisions, watching them as they’re failing at something and not going in and just Oh, you want to save them every time and yet that’s where the lessons are learned. So I think for me, that’s been a big turning point.

John Dalton: I think, you know, going through that together has been helpful. And then going through it again with Jack, I can see the growth in him, like this second round of deciding where he’s going to go to college now, instead of a three year process of him worrying and Us doing all these different things that it took us like a month, right?

And I remember talking to him about this very same thing about making decisions. And you know, what I told him was,

All you can do is make the best decision that you can right now. Obviously, that’s, the goal. You can’t make a perfect decision. The only wrong decision you can make is to not decide. and I think that helped him. You know, you’re going to make this decision and it could turn out great. Two years from now, you might be like, well, maybe that wasn’t the best school for me, but that’s okay. Because a lot of those mistakes and failures, like you talked about in your backpack, those are some of the greatest lessons that we have.

And those are some of the things that shape us. And if you don’t make that decision that leads to that mistake or that lesson, You’re not the same person like that. That’s part of your journey. so I used to have, I don’t know if you remember this, but back when I worked at Brinker on my, on my whiteboard, I had this quote that said The best decision is to act.

Because I was one of those kind of research people that I wanted to go and get everything perfect before I presented it to my boss or the team or whatever. and a lot of times that would. That was to my detriment. So I had to remind myself sometimes you just need to make a decision and move forward, with the information you have, because if you don’t make a decision, that’s that’s the worst possible outcome.

[00:20:04] The Two Types of Decision Makers

Tanya Dalton: Yes, not making a decision is a decision. That’s a choice, right? I like what you said there because even last year, your word of the year was now. Like, stop overthinking it. And we do. We make decision making a part of procrastination. The overthinking is procrastinating in a lot of ways. You are, without question, a maximizer.

That’s one of the categories of people with decision making. A maximizer is someone who wants to have the maximum information. They will go in these rabbit holes of finding and gathering and researching and researching again, and then maybe researching again to the point where it’s the time to make the decision has already passed. I on the other hand am a satisfiser, a satisfiser, which is someone who is generally satisfied with like, this is enough information. And we kind of touched on this in the last episode when we talked about the how and the wow, how I have the big ideas. And a lot of times you’re like, I want to know the granular steps.

And those of you who saw my leadership guide over there on my sub stack that I shared a couple weeks ago, you know, that I don’t like granular ideas. That’s not for me. We talked about that on the last episode, you know, in our disc assessment, even we, we see that I am the risk taker. And you are not the risk taker.

And for a long time, I struggled with when I was making decisions and brainstorming, trying to use you as my brainstorming partner when that did not work for you because you were wanting to do all this research. And I’m like, let’s go, let’s go. So there we go again with our strengths coming in to play a role in how we operate.

And I think it’s important to know which one are you? Are you a maximizer or a satisfiser? Because for me, as a satisfiser, that sounds better, right? Like, oh, I make quick decisions and I don’t look for way too much information. But I have to make sure I’m not just running and leaping off a cliff. I gotta make sure that I have all the information I need before I jump, right?

And then for John, as a maximizer, you know, it sounds like you’re gonna get stuck in a rabbit hole, but if you know that about yourself and you give yourself a container, you give yourself a deadline of, okay, I have to decide this by this date. Then you can do all the research you want until that date, and then you have to move on, and you have to make the decision.

So, understanding how you operate. This is, again, understanding your operating system. Your own unique way of doing things. When you understand that, it allows you to go in and make decisions the best you possibly can. I just feel like understanding how you operate is the key to a happier life. It truly is.

Understanding that, communicating it, accepting it. Instead of thinking, ugh. I’m the worst. Like John could think, Oh, I’m the worst. I do so much research. I’ll be honest when we’re going on vacation and John has researched all the things to do and he knows where we’re going and all the, it’s fantastic. It’s so amazing.

It’s such a gift. I would never have the patience for that. So both of them have good, good things and bad things, but it’s understanding how you work and how you operate, right? I think that’s the main thing. So when it comes to making the decisions, What is it you should do? I think that’s the big question, right?

[00:23:17] How to Make Better Decisions

Tanya Dalton: I mean, that’s the question that Liz was like, how do I make this decision? And I think the old thing was making the pro con list. And I want to touch back on what we talked about a few minutes ago about the idea of good and bad. That’s the problem with the old drawing a line down a sheet of paper, listing the pros on one side and listing the cons on the other side is, how do you know what’s good?

How do you know what’s bad? And a lot of times we’re looking just at short term, we’re not necessarily looking at long term. Sometimes the short term pain is for a long term gain, right? Which column does that go into? So, Doing away with some of that and understanding what is truly important here. That to me is the key to good decision making understanding how you operate, what kind of information you need, and then,what are the criteria that are most important for you, John, you touched on that idea and that concept of when we were going with Jack trying to figure out where he’s going to go to college back when he was a junior in high school, we had this whole donut philosophy.

Do donuts make you better decision makers? Yes, I do. It’s funny. I shared this, how we had done it with my friend. Yeah. Donuts are good for everything. I had shared this idea with my friend, Jon Acuff, when his, his daughters were getting ready to go to college. And he was like, this is such a genius idea because it made it so much easier.

You know, we talked about the fact that it’s very overwhelming. There’s so many choices and options.

[00:24:47] How To Decide Where To Go for College

Tanya Dalton: First thing we need to do is we need to whittle down the options. We need to figure out what is truly most important to you. So with Jack, what we started with when deciding on college is we decided on this donut shape,

If you look at a map of the United States and you look at our house in Asheville, North Carolina, my rule for him was that he needed to be at least an hour away. I didn’t want him feeling like he could come home and do his laundry, or he could come home for, for dinner on Sunday night. He needed that space.

I needed to give him that space so I wasn’t tempted to go every weekend and see him because I want him to adult. I want him just to step into adulthood, right? So we had this little circle that was an hour outside of Asheville that was like nothing in this area was going to work. And then he said he wanted to be within five hours.

So we had this donut shape of, okay, this little swath of the United States where it was like, what colleges are in there? Well, just creating that donut of, okay, one hour outside of Asheville, and then about a five hour radius, which is about to Nashville, I would say, you know, going around in a circle. That eliminated, I don’t know, like 90 percent of the colleges out there.

I mean, immediately that whittled our list down tremendously

John Dalton: yeah, that was a huge help. I mean, and that’s the thing is if you can figure out, what decisions need to be made as part of this bigger decision. You have to have those, what are those little decisions you need to make?

Okay, well let’s start with where in the country do you want to go? And you’re right, just making that one decision, or I guess it’s two, like here’s the, the first, the inside of the donut and here’s the outside. We did, we eliminated 90, 95 percent of the colleges in America. Just right off the bat, it became so much more easy to deal with.

Tanya Dalton: And then we whittled down the list more because it was like, okay, what’s, what’s the next thing that’s most important to you? Well, the next thing that was important to him was the size of the college. He wanted a college that wasn’t big. He wanted something that was small, but not too small. So we, we kind of got into this range of what was the right size for him, right?

We had a conversation about what size college. Well, right there, we whittled off a lot more, right? We took more schools off of our list. And then we just kept going through, what are the things that are most important to you? So it was like, next up was the, I can’t remember the next thing, but there were all these things that he listed out as being important.

And each time, we looked at that one thing, it would clear out quite a few options on the list. And then all of a sudden, instead of having 3 million options of where you can go to college, I think we were down to like 10.

and you can see how it’s so much easier to make a decision based off of that. So it’s almost like knowing which levers you need to pull. What are the things that are most important to you?

So when you’re making a decision, that’s where I would start, not with the pro and the con list. Start with what’s important to me about making this decision. What are the key things that are most important when I am making this? Okay, and then start with one, And then get some of those options off your list and just keep wiping them away.

It’s almost like they’re all laid out on this table and you’re just like scooting them off the table. You’re swiping them away so that you have fewer choices and fewer options. That sounds contrary to what you want. We think we want all these options, but it’s overwhelming us with that paradox of choice.

fewer options that fit and that align with what I truly desire. That’s the key. And so I can’t just say, well, these are the five, things that you need to look at if we’re talking about colleges or we’re talking about whatever. It’s really what’s most important to you. What aligns with your goals?

What aligns with your values? That’s a great place to start.

John Dalton: I think the other thing that was really great about the way you set up that particular process for Jack is because he’s a maximizer like me, And especially as a teenager with the Internet, he’ll research things for weeks if we let him. you set up a system where we just, we said, okay, we’re going to meet and talk about this on Thursday nights after dinner.

That’s the only time of the week that we’re going to talk about this. So he knew that he, he could do his research for an entire week, but Thursday night came around, we were going to talk about it. And it also, it saved him from that uncertainty of when are we going to talk, you know, how are we going to make this decision?

I don’t know. Like we had this check in every week for 30 minutes and we were able to make these little incremental steps and these small decisions. And by the time we got to his spring semester of his junior year, he felt so much more comfortable. and we had, we had a list of five that were prioritized and he knew what he was going to do and he felt so much more confident.

but it was all in the approach. And I think that’s, that’s, what’s really important.

Tanya Dalton: Having that college planning night, I think we did it on Thursday nights. I talk about this in On Purpose and in my book, because it was so much nicer that we weren’t dealing with this uncertainty, the uncertainty of me. Wondering have you looked into the colleges, him not dealing with the uncertainty of when his mom gonna jump down my throat about not, not having these things done.

Right? So it took all of that out of the equation. And you can do that for yourself because a lot of times making these decisions in a silo. By yourself is like an echo chamber where it’s just the idea is bouncing right back at you. So having a regular check in as you’re making, especially a major decision with somebody else and say, Hey, if you don’t mind, let’s check in on Wednesday afternoons for like 30 minutes.

I want to talk to you about how this is going. That’s a great way to really feel confident about your decision. the truth is not all your decisions are going to be winners. Even the ones that you take a lot of time and you take a lot of effort and a lot of energy to make very intentional, they’re not all going to be winners.

As shown by the fact that Jack then left High Point, it turned out not to be the school for him. There were other levers we didn’t even know about that needed to be pulled, Although I will say, He had a fantastic experience his freshman year. He met some incredible people who he’s still very close with and he still meets with and chats with regularly.

There’s no regret in that because he got so much out of it. And now with him making the decision about, okay, I’m going off. I’m going to backpack. He saved money. He’s backpacking across Europe. by himself, meeting up with several of his friends he met through Costa Rica, that he’s got friends all around Europe.

And then he was like, okay, I want to go back to school. This decision of where he’s going this fall was so much easier, so much faster because he already had a lot of tools and he had a lot more idea of what was important to him. So for him, he was like, I want to go in state. And I want to do graphic design.

He understands that now that that graphic design is where he wants to go. So that was so easy. It was like, what’s good. What schools are good and graphic design that are in state or at least close by and we had that decision drilled in very quickly. So, that’s the thing is, you’re going to make decisions that stink.

[00:31:57] Making Big Decisions

Tanya Dalton: Sometimes you’re going to make decisions that are the wrong decisions. You’re going to make decisions that you’re going to look back and be like, I can’t believe I did that, but you learn so much from it. Right. And then your next decision gets even better and it gets stronger and it gets, and that’s the thing is I want you to realize that letting go of the idea of making the perfect decision is so freeing.

Because then it allows you to experiment. Life is an experiment. Life is truly a game. Try things out. If it doesn’t work out, most time it’s no harm, no foul. You can shift, you can change, you can do something else. treat life more as, okay, this is an opportunity, I’m going to try it.

I’m not locked in. Very rarely is a decision permanent. Very rarely. So giving yourself that grace and that freedom to do that. all of this to say. It truly goes down to what’s important to you. in thinking about that email that I got from Liz about where do I go now, I, there’s all these opportunities.

Let me tell you what I said to Liz. I said to her, I think the place to start is figure out what’s important to you. do an audit of yourself to get some clarity. So on the sub stack, I’ve done a couple of activities and exercises. I said, there’s one on essential needs, which we talked about here on the podcast, right? If you know that your essential needs involve being in proximity to other people, then working from home probably isn’t going to work for you, or at least working from home, if that’s like exclusively how that job operates, but you know, you need to be around other people that, that clears the table of a lot of opportunities.

If everything is work from home and you’re like, Oh, I’m going to hate that. Great. Let’s cross those off the list. Right? And so then you can start to figure out what’s the work style that works for me. And you can start crossing off opportunities. These don’t work for me because this isn’t the style I want.

So I said, do the essential needs exercise. And then do the superpowers exercise. Figure out what are your strengths? What are you great at? And then we can figure out and hone in on what type of work you really want to do. Because remember, if it’s a superpower, not only is it something you’re good at, it’s something you’re really passionate about.

It’s something you really enjoy. both of those activities are there on the sub stack that I have Not Rocket Science. Both of them are free for anyone. I will put the links in the show notes. If you’re thinking about something like this, go through, do an audit of yourself. Now that we figured out all of this, What type of work you want, what style of work you want, all of a sudden our options are a little bit more narrow and it’s easier to make some decisions. And then you figure out what other levers I need to pull. What are the other things that are important to me? Is it important for me to, to stay in my state?

Is it important for me to live in my city? Or am I willing to go out of state? Start figuring out those things and you’ll start whittling it in and figuring out what’s truly going to be the best decision for you. And that’s what it comes down to the best decision with the information you have right now.

That’s all we can all ask for.

John Dalton: great advice, you know, like how can you create your own Decision donut like we did for Jack, you know, and it doesn’t have to have anything to do with geography, but what what levers can you pull to limit that and whittle those decisions down and, you know, I think the other part of that is don’t be afraid.

To make a wrong decision or a bad decision, because, like you said, we don’t know if this is going to end up being the right decision or a bad decision right now. All we’re doing is. making a decision. And whether that job you take ends up being the perfect job or you love it, maybe it won’t. Just like Jack’s first college experience, it may not be the best thing.

But you’ll learn a lot from that. And the next job you take will be an even better fit. And that’s, that’ll all be part of your growth. a lot of, decision problems that I always had was, it was all fear based, right? Because I was afraid to make the wrong decision. But, you know, I would just say, don’t be afraid to make the wrong decision, you know, because it’s going to be the right decision for you right now, however it turns out in the future.

and you just, you just need to make it and figure out your donut so that you can whittle those things down and make the best decision that you can.

Tanya Dalton: Yeah, and to make that easier, actually, what I think I’m going to put on the Substack, I created this little decision making machine where you can plug in the things that are important to you, and it makes it so much easier. I used it in my business. I use it in my personal life. So I’m going to include that in the Substack, the newsletter that’s going out today.

If you are not part of my sub stack, Not Rocket Science, get over there. I’m telling you so many things that we talk about here. We go more in depth with in that not rocket science sub stack. So go to Tanya Dalton. com slash connect. As I mentioned. I’m asking you for the month of May to share, share this podcast episode.

Certainly, if you know someone who struggles with decision making, snap a screenshot and share it. But also sharing the, the sub stack, because I would love for more people to feel confident with how they’re making decisions. Everything we talk about here on the intentional advantage and the sub stack really is about you finding more meaning in your life.

So, please share it. I would love that. It would be such a fantastic birthday present for me. And if you’re not over there, come and join us because we’re having some fantastic conversations. This, email that I got from Liz is just a perfect example of how I love that this is helping me decide.

You know what? This would be a great podcast episode. Let’s talk about this more. And I have some other episodes coming up that are driven from people talking about it over there at not rocket science. So Tanya Dalton. com slash connect is a great place to go get more information. I would love to see you over there at not rocket science.

All right. If you’re interested in that decision making machine, I’ll have that posted today, and here’s what I want you to walk away from today’s episode. There are no perfect decisions. If you are waiting for the clouds to part and the rainbows to shoot out of the sky, saying that you have made the right choice, it’s not going to happen.

Really, truly being clear on who you are, what you desire and what you want, that’s how you’re going to make the best decision for you. There are no right or wrong choices. There’s just the choices that you choose to make. And when you do choose to make decisions, when you do them with intention, well, that’s when you’ve got the Intentional Advantage.

Ready to take action on what we talked about on today’s episode? The easiest way to get started is my 5 Minute Miracle Mini Course. It’s normally 97, but you get it for free when you join my free sub stack. It’ll boost your productivity and it will double your happiness. Plus, you’ll get access to all kinds of extras from the podcast.

Just go to tanyadalton. com slash connect. And don’t forget to follow The Intentional Advantage on your podcast player so you never miss an episode.

**This transcript is created by AI, so please excuse any typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes.


Tanya Dalton is female keynote speaker and productivity expert. She speaks to audiences about goals, team communication and increasing productivity

Image for podcast episode artwork is by Luke Barky