The first decision that pops in your mind is what Malcolm Gladwell calls your “blink” moment. It’s that feeling or thought you get before you consciously think about the situation.
Should you trust your blink moments? Are the true answers to life’s challenges in those few milliseconds before conscious thought kicks in? And the real question, can you trust that blink moment, to the exclusion of rational thought?
This is a deep episode, but if you’ve been wanting to learn how to make better and faster decisions, it’s time to make the decision and listen!
(The following is a transcript of episode 48)
Before we get into today’s topic, let me just mention a few things. First of all, I am blessed to know you. I mean, I don’t know you personally, well, some of you I do, but I am truly blessed to know you in any way possible. What are the chances that you and I would ever meet had it not been for this show?
It sounds strange, but bear with me. I do feel that at some level, we have met. And I’m not talking psychically or spiritually, or anything that can’t be measured or tested. I’m talking about meeting each other at our most vulnerable and emotionally sensitive places inside of us. When I open up to you, there’s a part of you that opens up. When you write to me and open up to me, there’s a part of me that opens up.
It’s this place of vulnerability where you feel complete trust. When you can open up and be vulnerable, you actually allow the real you, the authentic you, to come out. This is the most powerful person you can be. One who isn’t afraid to show the world who you really are.
This is one of the reasons I decided to be fully authentic in this show. I mean, you’ve heard me reveal some pretty deep stuff. But I know that by doing that, it also gives you a chance to connect with a part of yourself that may have gone through a similar experience.
Now, that’s not why I share my personal life with you. You opening up is just a side effect. A good side effect, of course. But I share because when I do, I release. I share the hard stuff with the entire world, knowing that the more vulnerable I am, the stronger I get each and every time.
And never once has anyone told me that I was wrong, or bad, or whatever, because all I do is share my truth. And when you can connect with my truth, you open up to yours. The truths you have inside of you are who you really are.
So many of us go through life hiding our truths because we fear being judged. I can see how this was important so long ago when we were cavemen and cavewomen. After all, if I showed you my fear, you may not trust me to go on the hunt to gather food. Or, you might see that I am weak, and kick me out of the clan.
But we are no longer living in caves, and no longer have to hunt daily for our food. Well, let me rephrase that, if you are listening to this, then you are likely not living in a cave. But the point is, we are no longer simple and instinct-only beings. We are thinking and compassionate beings, at least when we choose to be. But we do have that capacity.
The point I’m trying to make is that when you are willing to be vulnerable, then you are allowing others to be vulnerable too. When you can share your truths with others, they are more willing to share their truths with you. And when this happens, you will connect. Just like I feel when I am sharing my truths with you. I feel like I am connecting with you. And I hope you feel that way too.
Now I’d like to do something I’ve been thinking about since I was 4 years old. Have you ever seen the old children’s TV show, Romper Room? I watched that all the time as a kid. At the end of every episode, I distinctly remember a woman looking into a hand-held mirror, reflecting her gaze into the camera, and saying something to the effect of “I can see Jimmy and Cindy and William and Kyle and…” so on and so on.
I would always wait for my name to be called. I was anticipating it. I remember the feeling, because I really believed she was looking into our homes with that magic mirror. I just couldn’t wait to hear my name. I would have felt so special if she did that.
But I don’t remember if I ever heard my name. In fact, I don’t believe she ever called it. Perhaps that’s why I’m still thinking of it, because I’m still waiting for my name to be called. Not literally, but in the sense that our minds love closure. So, just for fun, and because I really mean it, I’m going to thank of few of you who’ve written to me over the past few months right now. Are you ready?
I thank Jon and Caroline and Keith and Debi and Erin and Tim and Scott and Lynn and Jane and Tricia and Ken and David and Theresa and Grace and Lisa and Kate and Kelly and Ariel and Dee and Leon and, wow, I think I have to stop. This could go on a while! If I didn’t call your name, just know that I appreciate you and thank you for being there for me, listening, learning, and growing.
So today we’re here to discuss how to make the “right” decisions. If you measure the success of your decisions on whether you learned a lesson or gained a benefit of some sort, then you really can’t make a “wrong” decision.
For example, deciding whether to leave a job or not will have an outcome. If you’re unhappy at your job, and you decide to stay, then the outcome may be that you stay unhappy. Unless you figure out how not to be unhappy while working there, which is possible.
And if you decide to leave that job, then you might feel relieved knowing you’ll never have to deal with it ever again. The outcome you hoped for is what happened.
But using this same example, what if leaving the job causes you to be more unhappy? What if as you’re walking out the door, you find out they were going to promote you and give you a big, fat raise? Suddenly you may feel like the decision to leave was completely wrong. That’s not a very good feeling now, is it?
That’s what I want to discuss today. Every decision you make every day becomes the path you carve to your destiny. I realize that sounds a little out there, but it’s the small, compounding effect of every decision you make that creates your future. Every decision may seem small and insignificant at the time, but like Jeff Olson, author of The Slight Edge, said in the very first episode of The Overwhelmed Brain:
There is no difference in the moment, but every moment matters.
That’s not to say we should sweat and hesitate before every step we take. After all, we’d have to halt everything we do in order to plan for the next decision every time. In fact, I’m here to help you hesitate even less, so that you are an expert decision maker. At first, it may take some thought to go through some of the exercises I’m going to talk about. But soon, there’ll be no thought involved, and decisions will just come flying out of you.
And you do realize what happens when you stop hesitating through life, right? You get to create your own reality. You can include and eliminate things from your life in seconds, if you want to.
By the end of today’s episode, you’ll learn what it takes to be sure of yourself, and be confident in your decisions. Confidence is the key. The challenge for some people is that they may feel confident in some areas of life, but start hesitating in other areas. These hesitations are the brain’s way of trying to rethink what you already know to be the decision you need to make.
In other words, when you know what to decide, but your brain kicks in and starts telling you stories, you suddenly start believing the stories over your own natural instincts and inclinations.
Instincts are made up of your entire life’s journey of making decisions.
Instincts are the culmination of your current sensory experience and the memory of every decision you’ve ever made.
As we go through today’s show, I’ll expand upon this. But if you find that you have trouble making decisions, or hesitate more often than not, then keep listening as we dive into this topic even deeper.
Back in 2006, I decided to join an online dating site. It had been about 6 months since my breakup of a 13 year relationship, and even though I really wasn’t ready for the next relationship, at the time I believed that in order to be happy, it was important to have someone in my life. At first, I tried the trial version. I get to see and communicate with my matches for a week.
I tried it out that week, really enjoyed it because it was basically showing me women and asking me, “Do you want us to tell her you like her? “
I was like, “Wow, this is so much easier than the traditional route of hoping a girl is interested in me, then walking up to her and getting rejected!” Ha ha, but I really didn’t see anyone that I wanted to get to know better.
Then a friend of mine said he was going to set me up with someone. I was like, “Uh, OK, this should be interesting.” But it never came to fruition, and I never met this mystery woman.
So a couple months went by, and I decided to join the dating site again. But this time, I was serious. This time, I paid for a 3 month membership and committed to going all in and finding the woman of my dreams.
The day after I joined, I checked my email. ‘Hmm, no matches. Okay, I told them I only wanted people local to me, so perhaps it takes a while to gather people around this area that I’m compatible with.’ So I waited another day.
Still no matches.
By the third day, I was like, “What’s going on? Last time, I had matches every day, and they were all local!” So I decided to broaden my range to the whole state. I figured it was possible that there really were no local matches.
I waited a couple days, still no matches!
I then expanded to the entire east coast of the US. I thought, “This time, there’s no way I can’t get any matches.”
Another day or two, another day or two with no matches.
I thought something might be wrong with their system. But before I called them, I chose to expand my range to the entire US. There’s got to be someone out there, somewhere, that is compatible with me!
So I called them up, or emailed them, I forget. And the next day, they said they found a glitch and have now fixed it. They also gave me a week’s service for free. I was like, “Alright! Maybe I’m not so incompatible after all!”
So a day went by and I finally got matches. They were from all over the US. I was thinking, “Hmm, should I change my settings back to local only?” I decided not to, and just left the settings as-is.
Within about a week or two, there she was. She appeared in my email as a new potential match. I saw her face, and I thought to myself, “There’s just something about her. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about her.”
When I clicked into her profile, I immediately resonated with everything she wrote. I sent her a message through their system, she responded relatively quickly. And in about 3 days, we were on the phone talking with each other. That conversation lasted about 3 hours.
There was only one issue: She lived 3000 miles away. The girl of my dreams lived on the other coast. Over the next 3 or so weeks, we kept in touch all the time. We were literally falling in love, and we had never met. All of our talks and communication were always over 3000 miles, but we connected from a distance. We just felt safe with each other, and could talk about anything. I said to her, “Jeez, what if we meet, and you think I’m too tall or too ugly or something?” And she responded, “What? What if you think I’m not pretty or too fat?” And we both kind of laughed about it.
But we did have to meet soon, because I wanted to know if what I was feeling was real. I wanted to know if this was authentic, that we actually did love each other even though we had never physically met.
And I wrote her an email asking her when the best time to fly over there was. She said, “You’re gonna fly over here?” I said, “Well, yeah! Unless you want to keep doing this long-distance thing.” She’s like, “No, I want to see you. Wow, I just can’t believe you want to fly over here!”
The truth is, I couldn’t wait to meet her. Everything about this felt right.
The next day, I get an email from her, and she says, “I booked a flight, I’ll be there in 3 weeks.” I was like, “What? You’re flying here?” She said she wanted to see me too, and didn’t want to wait. I was very happy, and also very nervous.
Three weeks later, I met her at the airport. We stared into each other’s eyes for the very first time, and at that moment, everything made sense. All of it was perfect.
And a few days later, I was planning to move out there to be with her. There was no doubt in my mind. I had made a decision, and I was going to follow through with it. No hesitation at all. I realized what I wanted, and took the steps to make it happen.
I went to my boss, and gave notice at work. I set up my condo to be rented through a property management company. I was nervous at the same time as I was excited. I was doing something I had never done before in my life. I was giving up all my roots in a place I’d lived for 15 years. All that comfort and security, to take a chance on living an adventure with the person I fell in love with.
I remember the moment I made the decision to leave. Once I made it, everything fell into place.
Decisions give you closure so you can focus on the next step.
Once I made the decision, even though I had no clue what was going to happen or even how some things were going to happen, everything fell into place.
The ball was rolling, and I was on my way to a new adventure.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote the book, “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”. It’s a book about how sometimes our best decision is our immediate, spontaneous one. It’s the moment you make a judgment about a situation, right before you add your own twist like rationalizations, logic and even comparison to previous situations. It’s that brief, blink moment where your subconscious mind actually knows the answer before you do.
You have blink moments all the time. If you know how to type, then every key is pressed before you think about which key you are pressing. If you play a musical instrument, your hands know what to do before you consciously know where to put them (or your mouth or feet, depending on the instrument). If you drive a car, you don’t have to consciously think at all, and soon you’re 5 miles past your exit.
This blink moment is how fast your brain actually works before you slow it down with conscious thought. Have you ever seen someone you know and thought, ‘Something’s different about that person.’ For example, I can always, immediately tell when someone gets a haircut. Even if their hair was already short, and they just got it trimmed, I can tell right away. I trust my blink moment so well, I just tell the person, “Nice haircut”, and they might say something like, “Wow, you noticed?”
But I’ve also seen guys who’ve shaved off their mustache, and I can’t tell what the heck is different about them. “Something looks different about you!” and they laugh, and tell me they shaved. And sometimes I might say, “But you never had a mustache!” and they laugh even harder.
That’s because I stopped registering their mustache as separate from their face. Meaning, as soon as I got used to seeing them with a mustache, which could have been since the first day I met them, I stopped seeing the mustache as if it were unique on their face. It just became a part of their face. And since I stopped distinguishing it, when it was gone, I couldn’t tell what was different about their face.
I’m sure you’ve had those moments where you went, “Something’s different.” It’s like those “Where’s Waldo” pictures. Looking at the picture as a whole, you can’t find him. But when you start looking at individual faces, you finally spot him. It’s funny how some things aren’t distinguishable when seen from a big picture perspective, but when inspected closely, looking for details, we find what’s different.
So this blink moment is the very first thought or feeling you have. And if you don’t catch it, you’ll respond from the secondary thought, which is conscious thought. This is so much slower and methodical than subconscious thought. You know it’s slower, because try reading each word of each sentence consciously. If you were to do so, you’d first have to figure out what letter the first shape represented. Once you knew that, you’d go on to the second, then the third, and so on. Conscious reading is something we do when we’re learning to read. Unconscious reading is what we do when we have the process memorized.
In fact, until we memorize a process, it is usually consciously studied and learned. Then after repetition, we eventually have it memorized, and we no longer have to consciously think of the process.
So when you have a blink moment, this is your brain saying, “I know this!” or something similar. And it is something you know, so you can usually trust this spontaneous response.
I knew it was right to pack up my stuff and move 3000 miles from home. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew it was right. This is the moment where the real decision is made. As soon as you’re presented with a moment of choice, that moment of decision comes fast.
It doesn’t mean you’ll always experience this. After all, you could be presented with something that you’ve never had to deal with. When have no blink moment, that’s when you are in a state of confusion.
Reminds me of a computer class I took once. I thought I was smart until I took this class. My mouth hung open the whole time. Not in amazement, but in total ignorance. I felt so stupid sitting there not being able to learn anything the teacher talked about. My blink moment never came. The reason was because I never got the foundational material down.
It’s this foundational stuff that, unless know it, we won’t have a spontaneous decision on something. We’ll simply be confused. And it’s that moment we’ll sit there like a child trying to spell for the first time: “C, A, T, spells cat! I did it!”
In the case of this computer class I took, it was like I couldn’t even spell “cat”, so there was no way I was going to spell “hexadecimal”.
So the question becomes, can you trust your blink moment? Can you trust that subconscious moment of decision, right before your conscious mind kicks in and muddies up the waters? We’ll explore that shortly.
Do you think you have good instincts? When you meet someone for the first time, can you usually tell right away if you like them or not? Or, if they are dangerous or not? The blink moment you have after meeting someone for the first time is usually more accurate than the ones you have about other decisions you face.
A blink moment about whether the jug of milk in the fridge is spoiled or not, is a lot different than a blink moment about someone you just met. You might believe the milk is expired, and therefore conclude that it is spoiled, but that’s not always the case.
You might side with the possibility that it’s spoiled and dump it anyway, therefore avoiding the potentially risky proposition of drinking nasty milk. But when you meet someone, there’s usually a lot more going on with your senses than you realize.
When you first meet someone you don’t know, all of your senses kick in and immediately take in data. Their smell, their expression, their body language, the sound of their voice, the way their hand feels when you shake it, and so many other tiny things our sensory receptors pick up. They immediately capture this data, analyze it, and give you a blink judgment about them.
Of course, I’m very much dumbing down the actual process that’s probably way too complex for me to understand, but in general, our senses do their job and feed the data back to our brain, where we then create a judgment about our experience with this person. After they walk away, we may think about why we like, don’t like, or feel indifferent about the person.
The reason our blink moment is more accurate at the time of meeting a person over making a judgment about a jug of milk is basically because we are so good at it by now. We’ve met probably hundreds, if not thousands of people throughout our lifetime. And every meeting, our senses gather the data, then store it. Then we meet someone new, and the new data is compared to the old data, and a judgment is formed right away. Repeat that a thousand times, and you have yourself a pretty darn useful radar.
So when you meet someone and think, “I don’t like this person, but I don’t know why”, it doesn’t mean you should immediately get them out of your life. But you should stay aware, and be skeptical. More times than not, you will be right. But sometimes, you’re not. And when you’re not, you’ll be left wondering why you felt such an aversion at first, but now maybe like the person!
We’re getting closer to learning how to make the right decisions, I promise. I’m building up the foundation so that when it’s time, you’ll have a moment where you go, “Ah, I get it!” and you’ll know what it means to determine the “right” decision from the “wrong” decision. I quote both of those words, because in reality, there is no right or wrong. Those are just words we use to describe what we choose to have in our lives, and what we choose not to have in our lives. But it’s easier just to say Right and Wrong when I talk about making decisions, otherwise we’ll be here awhile!
The moment before you think, is when the decision is already made.
Before you think if you like a person or not, you don’t have to think, because you already know. What happens though is that you choose to question what you know, and this is where doubt and uncertainty come in. This is what slows us down, and causes us to hesitate when we make a decision. This is usually where it all falls apart.
So how do we know what decision we’re supposed to go with? Do we go with the one that happens before we think about it? That “blink” moment? Or, do we go with that “afterthought” so to speak? It’s time to explore that next.
Let’s assume what we talked about earlier is true: That instinct is the culmination of your current sensory experience and the memory of every decision you’ve ever made. That would mean your blink moment, that very first thought or feeling you have about something or someone, is based on everything you’ve ever experienced, and what your senses are telling you right now.
Here’s an example of that: You start your car and something doesn’t sound right. You don’t know what it is, but something sounds different. Your past reminds you that the car starts and runs great every time, so there’s no need to worry. But your senses are telling you something different. So you check your oil, your fluids, and other things that you know how to check, because something seems off.
Another example is when you meet someone for the first time. Let’s say right off, you either felt nothing, or felt good around this person, but suddenly had a bad feeling. This could be your senses picking something up, or your memory of something that triggered a response in you. For example, maybe you could never trust a person with a mustache, so every time you see a person with a mustache, you have an immediate skepticism about them. The initial thought or feeling happens so quickly, you may not really know if your senses are picking up something about their body language or maybe even the way they smell. And you also may not immediately recall that you don’t like people with mustaches because perhaps it’s something you never explored in yourself.
Regardless, you sum up very quickly if this is a friend or a foe. But what if you’re wrong? What if you immediately think something isn’t right, but it turns out to be the wrong choice?
Well, to clarify, there really is no wrong choice first of all. Because the choice that is happening in that split second, that blink moment, is simply a lightning fast analysis and comparison of data. Your senses pick up what’s happening, and your memories are accessed for the most part, simultaneously. If you’ve had positive experiences in the past, let’s just say with people with mustaches, then you are likely to judge your current experience as positive.
But if the person turns out to be a jerk or something, you now create a new reference for how you feel about people with mustaches. This one experience may not be enough to turn you against all people with mustaches, but it’s just enough to make you more aware next time.
I apologize to the people with mustaches. I’m sure most of you are fine, upstanding citizens. I’m really talking about people who don’t listen to this show. Everyone else is awesome.
But let’s just say you’ve have a bad experience with people with mustaches and you meet someone new who just happens to have a mustache. Your immediate thought may be, “Oh, don’t trust this person!” but after a talking for a bit, you realize they aren’t so bad at all. You might even go on to have a great friendship.
This is where your blink moment wasn’t exactly correct, at least from what you can tell. So again, how do you know if the decision you’re making about someone or something is right? Well, are you ready for the grand answer to all of life’s problems?
That moment you create a judgment about a situation or a person, that blink moment, is always right. Always.
Now before you rewind and playback everything I’ve already said, let me tell you why it’s always right:
Every decision you’ve ever made about a person or situation has been to benefit your survival and longevity. And the more of those decisions you’ve made, the more references you’ve built up from which to compare each and every subsequent decision.
Or, to make it a lot easier to comprehend, your blink moments are always right because you’re still here.
I know you may be thinking, “But I’ve made decisions that were completely wrong, and lost a lot because of it.” Well, my initial reaction is that too. I remember a couple of romantic encounters in my youth that I regretted not taking advantage of later on. I remember some of the decisions I made about money that I wish I hadn’t.
So think about a decision you made in the past that you wish you hadn’t. Nothing too terrible, something simple, like “I wish I hadn’t eaten that second piece of cake.” Your blink moment may have told you not to go down that road, but your afterthought kicked in and you decided to go for it because it was so delicious. In this case, your blink moment was right but you made a decision not to follow it.
How about a job offer that you should have taken or a romantic partner that you turned away? One of my memories, is when I was in my car with a girl I really liked. She gave me all the signals that she liked me, but I was simply too nervous to make any kind of advance on her. Whether it was because I was self-conscious or insecure or what. My blink moment was telling me that all was good to go, but my afterthought, my conscious, “rational” thought, talked me out of it.
These missed opportunities weren’t because I made the wrong choice. They were because I made the choice that made me feel the most comfortable. Yes, it’s that comfort zone thing.
Many of our afterthoughts are the brain’s way of keeping us safe and secure. Our blink moment is the opportunity to expand and grow beyond who we are (most of the time), but our afterthought takes into account what will keep us the same.
So does that mean we should always follow that initial, split second thought or feeling we have? Let’s put it this way, this is your opportunity to ask yourself one question. When you have that first thought, that blink moment, ask yourself the following:
“When was the last time I felt this way?”
This will help you immediately access previous times you felt the same way. And if you figure out the last time you felt that way, ask it again, “Was there a time before that, where I felt this way?”
And just explore that until you get to the earliest memory of when you felt that way. You may find out that you’ve been holding on to a belief that no longer serves you. For example, my experience with the girl in the car, when I think about it now, reminds me of a time when I was rejected as a kid. I don’t remember precisely what the rejection was, but it feels like something I experienced as a child. So I’ve held on to a belief all that time, up until that moment, where I didn’t want to feel rejection. My blink moment said go for it, but my faulty belief system kicked in and talked me out of it. I’m sure there was more to it than that, but you get the idea.
I realize that sometimes that blink moment comes so fast, you don’t even have time to consider the last time you felt or even thought of something similar from your past. But even if you think about it later, that’s fine too.
Just ask yourself, “What was my first thought, and what was my afterthought?” These are just simple questions you can ask to help you understand your blink moments a little better. And by doing this, you are actually building new references for your future first impressions.
You know all about first impressions right? That initial moment of meeting someone, and how the first impression is the most important? Well now you know why that saying exists. We all get first impressions of people, places, things, and events in life. They are our blink moments. And they are created because of what’s worked for us in the past.
Our blink moment is our subconscious mind referencing what worked in the past, and giving us the answer. It’s instant. You can’t think faster than you can, uh, blink. But knowing you have this ability to immediately size up a situation gives you a huge advantage.
Your blink moments are always right, in the sense that they have kept you safe. They may not have always kept you safe, but I guarantee the ones that didn’t, you now have a new blink moment in place of that old one. Sort of like the first time someone scams you. Your blink moment may not have saved you from getting suckered initially, (or maybe it did but didn’t listen to it), but the next time, that reference in your past about being scammed, will pop up as soon as a similar situation presents itself again.
Let’s wrap this up, there’s still a somewhat unanswered question I wanna talk about next
The one question that might be sticking in your mind is, “How do I know if the decision I am making is the right one?” Well, that’s really what today’s show is all about. And everything I talked about up to now is the foundation for making the right decisions. And since your blink moment is always right, it doesn’t mean it’s always the one to follow.
Your brain wants you to be safe and secure. It wants you to be comfortable. And it wants you to be happy. At least, the subconscious part of your brain wants that. The conscious, rational, slow-thinking part of your brain simply wants to question everything. It wants to weigh its options. It is extremely useful, but it can also be what talks us out of expanding beyond our comfort zone.
So here’s something to keep in mind:
Your blink moment is what you’ve always believed to be true, and your afterthought is what questions your truths.
If you keep this in mind, that your first impression of something is what you’ve always believed to be true, and those truths have worked for you up to this point, then your decision is the right decision to stay the same as you’ve always been.
If you’ve enjoyed the results you’ve been getting from the way you’ve always been, then don’t change a thing. If however, you haven’t been getting the results you want in life, then maybe, just maybe, your blink moment is using faulty references by which to make decisions. In other words, your references may no longer be useful. What you’ve experienced in the past may not be what you want to repeat anymore.
If you are not getting the results you want in life, then decide if that’s because you are following your initial blink moment, or your afterthought. And whichever one it is, switch them around. And then keep them switched for a while, even if it’s a little scary, just to see if your life starts to change dramatically (which I believe it will).
Now, use common sense of course. If your blink thoughts are to rob a bank to get fast cash, then you need to perhaps work on your morals and values. But I think you get what I’m saying. If you follow your instincts, and are just not getting the results you want, then follow your afterthoughts. And reverse that if it’s the other way around.
What will happen is that you will create a new reference system for your first impressions. Your brain will learn, just like it learns how to remember what to do when playing a musical instrument or driving a car. You can teach it new blink moments by building references.
If you’ve never thought about any of this stuff before, then you are on your way to building a solid, confident you. Once you start trusting your instinct, or first impressions, or blink moments, or whatever you want to call them, you start making decisions faster and faster. You realize that you do know what you want, and you do know the answer or the solution. And even when you don’t know, you know what decision you need to make in order to get the solution.
Stay aware of your blink moments. When you learn what’s working, you can reinforce that over and over again by making similar decisions and building stronger references, simply by testing what works.
You are going to make decisions that don’t work, and you’ll learn from those. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t right, because sometimes the decisions that bring the most challenges, and even pain, into our life, are the ones we needed most to make sure we were almost never wrong again.
Really, the whole point of this episode isn’t a quick and dirty method of making the right decisions all the time, it’s to reveal to you that your first impression is right in the sense that it happens because it references your past and what you have believed to be true throughout your life.
By never questioning your beliefs, you never change your first impressions. If you find that your blink moment is usually right, then follow it every time. Don’t change a thing! If you’re wrong, then you learn a lesson that builds a new reference for the next time something similar happens.
I didn’t go into this next thing in depth, but always weigh your decisions against your values and personal boundaries. If there are things you absolutely won’t accept in life, and if your blink moment tells you to now accept them, then that may cause more harm than good in the moment. It’s possible you need to re-examine your values and boundaries, and that I highly recommend because sometimes you can be so strict on yourself, you block yourself from ever growing. But enter all your decisions from a holistic standpoint. Nothing is black and white, it’s a combination of signals and feelings and thoughts that all add up to what decision is the right decision.
Whenever you have a moment where you go, “Something’s different”, or you walk into the room and think, “Something doesn’t feel right”, or any of a number of instant thoughts and feelings that just pop up, those are blink moments. Remember, you think slower than you blink. And your blink is fast because your brain already knows what’s normal, or good, or safe, and what’s not normal, or bad, or unsafe.
Fight or flight is a blink moment. A ball bouncing in front of your car causes a blink moment. Meeting someone that reminds you of your mean uncle is a blink moment. All having to do with how you’ve learned to respond throughout your life. If you are getting good results from your immediate responses to situations, don’t change a thing. If however you aren’t, it’s time to start doing something different. If your blink moment is leading you down the wrong road, then start following your afterthoughts. If your afterthoughts get you in trouble every time, then maybe it’s time to follow your instincts.
Only you know you well enough to know what’s working in your life. All decisions you make are almost always references into your own past.
One thing to practice, even if you got nothing from this entire episode, is to start making decisions faster.
The faster you make decisions, the faster you will make them in the future. When someone asks you where you want to eat, say the name of a restaurant. Avoid the back and forth of, “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” Once you start making quicker, more confident decisions, you will find your life improving dramatically.
People will start looking up to you and respecting you more. They will see that you are a person who knows what you’re doing, and someone they can trust. Yes, quick decision makers are typically perceived as more trustworthy.
Start making quicker decisions. The quicker you make them, the more you are actually using your brain the way it was designed. And, you’ll make some crappy decisions along the way too, but that’s when you get to show people that you take responsibility for your decisions and you’ll take action to resolve any problems you caused. Doing this further builds other’s confidence in you, and especially, your confidence in yourself.
Use your brain the way it was designed, which is high-speed processing. When you make decisions fast, you are as close to that blink moment as you can possibly be. Don’t be afraid to make bad decisions, because it’s going to happen no matter what. And of course, the really important decisions in life may take a little more time, but give yourself a deadline. Don’t let decisions linger.
Your life will improve once you make it clear what your intentions are in the world. Making decisions show others your intentions. When they are clear, the world will respond. I guarantee it. And the best way to show your intentions, is to make the choice. Be a person that knows what they want, and simply decide.
When I made the decision to give up where I lived, my comfortable surroundings, and a place I knew well, to travel 3000 miles across the country to live in a place I’d never been, with no job waiting for me, and no guarantee that the relationship I just jumped into was going to last, I dove in full force.
I didn’t think about it for long, I just weighed some options, and decided. I knew what I wanted, and made it happen. I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I knew it was going to happen. I packed up one of those moving containers, had the truck pick it up. Had a flatbed tow truck pick up my car, then her and I took a plane to California.
We found a place. I got to know the area. I met her mom and friends. I got a job. It all worked out, not exactly as planned, but it all worked out. In fact, it had no choice but to work out, because my decision to uproot myself and create a new future was made. There was no fallback plan. I was only going to fall forward. I would only move forward from the point of that decision. Meaning, no matter what, I was leaving my home of 15 years. No matter what, I was leaving my job. I was leaving my friends. All of it, I was leaving behind.
I made the decision, and that was that. I committed. Now it’s possible that something could have happened that prevented me from doing any of this. And if that were the case, then my plans probably would have changed. But because I committed to my decision to leave, everything from the point of that decision gained momentum. Every decision from that point on had a solid foundation of commitment. I knew what I wanted, and followed through.
When you make a decision, and I emphasize “make” because it’s a commitment, when you make a decision, you empower yourself to take action and make things happen. You advertise the full intention of your actions to the world, and the world has to accommodate or move out of the way.
Indecision is undeniably stagnant. And the commitment you make to the decisions you make always keeps you moving forward. And that, to me, is what helps you create the life you want.
This episode is over, but your journey never ends. When I created this show, I decided that I was going to do whatever it took to learn how to broadcast and meet the people I needed to meet to make it happen.
I had a blink moment that said, “Do it!” so I did. It wasn’t easy. I knew nothing about broadcasting when I started out, but I started anyway.
When you decide, it has to happen. When you commit, you make it happen. Nothing will stop you from making it happen. Does it mean it will turn out exactly as planned? Does anything ever turn out exactly as planned?
Set the intention anyway and decide to make it happen. And if what you want can’t happen right now, get that calendar out and set a date. Set a deadline so that it is always looming as a personal goal that you must commit to.
Making decisions, and taking action keeps you moving and progressing into a future that you are creating. And when you’re moving in a direction, it gives you purpose. And when you have purpose, you feel there is meaning in everything you do.
Thanks for this insight.i live your analogy of the blink moment. Yes comfortable is so easy but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Missed opportunities may mean the best is yet to come.
Right! Comfortable is a pattern. Patterns create ruts! But getting a little uncomfortable forges a new groove in which to get out of the rut and into a new place. Excellent comment, thank you!
Great insight you got here! Sometimes deciding for too long makes us miss the opportunity. It’s better to take the challenge immediately and just do whatever it takes to succeed.
Closure! That’s my mantra. I don’t like letting things linger. When there’s no closure, then emotions stay open, and we feel stuck. Take action, make a decision, take a road… just do it! Thanks for your comment Justin, love it!
Paul, I love how you associate vulnerability with power, and show us how true power can only come from being truly vulnerable.
Yes, you got it Charlie! When your power comes from that place deep down where we are also most vulnerable, you are truly empowered. Great take away – thank you for your comment!
You’re such a great storyteller Paul! Decision… One of the most important things to do and difficult at the same time, but it can happen in an instant and everything falls into place once you make it… Great episode!
You nailed it, Maritza. Contemplation takes time, but a decision is immediate. Imagine that, life can change with a single decision. Kind of puts into perspective that anything is possible!
Thank you so much for your comment.
“Decide… Commit… Take Action!” great stuff Paul. Thank you for sharing your stories and how it relates to this topic.
That’s really what it comes down to, doesn’t it? Excellent quote, thanks a lot for your comment Anthony!
Paul, get out of my head…AGAIN! My mindset mantra in recent months has been, “trust your discernment.” Intellectually I believe what you say is true and I know (and have been told) just how strong my discernment is. So why is it that I still second guess myself? It’s silly!
I know what episode I am going to come back to when I need a “blink” reminder. Always amazing stuff, my friend!
Ha ha, maybe you already know the answer, and the after thought is a part of you that doesn’t want you to be right for some reason. Oooh, 😉
Thank you for sharing Amber!
I was talking this week about how amazing and unfathomable the brain was. I showed my students the first part of Phantoms in the Brain and they were transfixed. I found your “Blink” moment much the same. Its not a reflex action but its not the conscious thought out response either. I’ll stick with my conclusion from earlier in the week – the brain truly is amazing.
btw – I think you would like Dr Ramachandran. He’s a very good speaker, he’s done a TED talk too.
Isn’t that wild? The brain is so unfathomable, that we can’t even comprehend the very thing we use to comprehend things. You could almost say that we will never fully know ourselves.
Excellent recommendation, I shall check him out. Thank you for that amazing comment Christine!
I love your emphasis on VULNERABILITY! I have found that so true in my professional selling experience. By being present and truly connecting with my potential customers they feel a connection and allow me to connect with them as well. It has lead to a pretty successful selling career. Such great stuff!!
Worth to read it.