A stream of thoughts flows through the mind of a man as time passes. A small fraction of them are active decisions. Passive decisions can be characterized as involuntary and automatic. For example, the function of the autonomic nervous system is passive in this respect. IN definitely decides that the heart should make another beat each time that happens.
Decision isolation is concerned with active decisions. These are decisions which are initiated by attention and executed through the Reality Processing System. There are two types of active decisions, discretionary and non-discretionary. An example of an active, yet non-discretionary decision is turning an automobile to the right on the freeway to change lanes or avoid an accident. An example of a discretionary decision is the decision to wash the car. The test which distinguishes discretionary from non-discretionary is that a discretionary decision does not immediately degrade mechanical functioning or the perceived assets of the current moment. It can either not be made or can be delayed without significant danger or damage.
This exercise is designed to cause specific notice of discretionary decisions. These important decisions can be “lost” in the general flow of thoughts. The decisions resulting from this process ae not made automatically, although it sometimes might seem to be the case. Still, anything even resembling automatic thought can hardly be considered a step in the direction of awareness.
This results in undertaking actions as the product of decisions without really being aware of the decisions. The consequential action when this is the case tends to be aimless and unconscious. Very often this situation results in not completing the action, taking far too long for the action due to dawdling and wandering, causing an energy drain and procrastination, due at least partly to putting things off because they will take so long because they are not being done consciously. Conscious decisions are processed (yes, an octave of development) in a way that allows a comparative value to be assigned to them. When this is accomplished, they are empowered to “compete” with other decisions (ambitions). Absent this, of course, we encounter dawdling and wandering.
Isolate at least four to six discretionary decisions each day. When these decisions are made, immediately execute the action to completion. If there is not time to complete the action of the decision, then the decision was not actually made. If the decision is made in the midst of some other action where the current activity must be interrupted, then the decision was not actually made because the action precipitated by it was impossible. Do not make “midstream” decisions to stop an activity. Instead, decide that perhaps one third of it will be done, and then complete that work. Post the remainder of the task with its correct priority for consideration later.
This exercise will result in:
- awareness of decisions being made and the quality of the process of making them
- the possibility of conscious action as a result of decisions
- awareness of time which is not controlled by a decisions — “Am I actually in a hurry?”
- greatly increased probabilities of completing life tasks, highest priority first
The self-test for unexamined decisions rests in their results. Have I ever said, “I should have done that first (and finished it?). I knew it ws more important than what I did instead.” Such a predicament betrays servicing unexamined decisions. Better or more effective decisions were possible at the time when the incorrect action was begun.