The G.E.M. of Making Decisions on Your Own Terms

This is the last post from a three-part series on decision making. If you missed the past two you can find them here: Gold Digging Your Way to Better Decision Making and How Vanilla Ice Helps Me Make Better Decisions.

This is a special post as it’s in response to a reader’s comment of:  I would love for you to share what would it be like if you made every decision solely based on what you wanted to achieve/do/feel/have. How much more happiness would be in your life if you made decisions from a full cup of joy and happiness?

8 minute read


There comes a point in our lives when we need to come to terms with what we are doing and why. We need to “reprogram the programming” as it’s been said. So, what is the programming? Well, everything really. Anything that we have been or are being exposed to is downloaded in our minds and when we see it, hear it, or feel it enough, it becomes our programming. It becomes our belief system. It becomes who we think we are or need to be.

A lot of times when we sit back and recall some of our programmed beliefs, we see that they come from a genuine place of love, usually from a parental figure or mentor. We know if it works for us because of how it feels in our body when we bring this specific belief to mind. Often times, we may find beliefs that don’t sit as well. These are the ones that need an overhaul.

It takes a brave soul, like you and I, to take the time to sit back, reflect and make sure that what we believe about ourselves and the life that we are living is in line with who we are and what we want. Not what Mom wants or our sister wants or our partner wants or our society is telling us that we should want.

What do you want out of your life?

This is such a ginormous question that it can have us answering in a knee-jerk “To be happy, duh,” or give us a sucker punch of anxiety from it being too abstract of an idea.

Sure, we all say we want health and happiness but what that means to me and what that means to you can be completely different. Plus, there’s that common fear that if we really go after and create what we want we’ll be considered selfish. Beyond failure. Beyond success. I believe that one of our biggest fears is that we’ll look selfish. Self-absorbed. Not for the people. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. When you venture out to create the life you want, people are going to take notice. They will love it (you’re inspiring them) or hate it (you’re inspiring them). Neither one needs to be your focus. You know when you’re being true to yourself and when you’re not. No one can tell you otherwise. You feel it in your bones. So, let’s get this party started.

These 3 steps can guide you to feel more in control of decisions you’re making, knowing they are coming from a place that you created. Aligning yourself so strongly with who you are is the gem of life. Need a visual? Take Moana, another female lead movie that leaves me filled with inspiration and joy. This story transcends age. It’s all about finding your identity by staying true to who you are.  When Moana finally takes the green gem (the goddess Te Fiti’s heart) and bravely places it in the empty hole of the fire monster that is Teka, there is a sudden morphing of Teka into Te Fiti the beautiful goddess of the land. They are one in the same. Cheesy as it may sound, we all have both Teka and Te Fiti in us. It’s our choice which of the two energies we want to make decisions from. Again: love or fear?

Don’t ever let anyone dull your G.E.M.

  1. Get super clear on your top 5 core values.

Yes, yes I’ve hit this tip a gazillion times. Why? Because I know that for me, I need to be reminded daily about what my core values are so I don’t let distractions and old programming uproot me on a whim. The mere act of glancing at a post-it with my top 5 values on it allows me to feel centered and realize that they’re in the forefront of my mind. With that small, yet incredibly effective action, I am a better decision maker. On the days when I am rushed or foggy and the list doesn’t cross my eyes? Steer clear.

2. Encode each value in your mind and body.

This step takes a little bit more time but is the big enchilada of decision making. Once you are able to feel in your bones and visualize in your mind what each value means to you in a non-cerebral way, you are more likely to know how to handle decisions when they arise. You familiarize yourself with them on such a visceral level that when you’re out of whack from them you’ll know it. You may not know what decision to make right away but you’ll know what decision not to make, which sometimes can be a literal lifesaver. Once you can state your five core values, you can then start reverse engineering your life keeping them in mind. What is the ideal life you want to create from each of your values? Visualize it. Go through your five senses. Write them down. It’s all in the details.

If you want to take it one step further and let your creative juices fly, dedicate a night to creating your own value board(s). Put on some soulful music (some of my faves are Sam Cooke, Carole King, Prince, Eddie Vedder, and Neko Case), then draw or if you’re like me and a three-year-old exceeds your drawing ability, flip through some old magazines and rip out any pictures that resonate with you for each of your values. Maybe it’s a whole page filled with pictures for each value or maybe it’s one picture per value. Your choice. Forego adding words because that switches on our left brain and we want to keep our right brain fired up here.  I tend to keep my value boards just for me or a very special chosen few. It’s like when you have a dream and you wake up and describe it to someone, it tends to dilute its meaning. Choose wisely who you share your dreams with, not everyone is worthy. Speaking of that, once you are super clear about your values the need for external validation plummets since you know in your heart of hearts that you’re on track.

It’s time to live our values out loud instead of preaching them.

3. Make yourself the role model.

This is a newbie for me. When life is harried and I can only remember one of these steps, I let this be the one. Why? Because the other two steps naturally fall into place here. And to be honest, because I don’t make every decision from a full cup of joy and happiness but this step helps me lean that way.

Whenever I am faced with a tough decision that has to do with my personal or professional life, I have an inner voice that I’ve begun training to say “role model, Love Bug.” Yes, I have a pet name for myself. Why? Because it gives an instant self-compassionate strength to the situation. Find whatever term of endearment you want for yourself. I don’t care if it’s Honey, Pookie, Sweet Pea, or Butt Muffin. Find one that no one else calls you but yourself.

Whether it has to do with my kids, clients, co-workers, or even strangers, this phrase shifts my perspective. There will always be people who are going to be disappointed and upset whenever it comes time to make a difficult decision. I can’t stand disappointing people or being judged. It’s a toxic trait that traps me in a state of waffling that I am working on day to day.

That’s why role modeling is such a helper for me. Realizing that there is someone out there who is listening or watching me and may gain some insight from the way that I handle myself makes me feel less selfish in my choices. I’ve heard this advice from many different people and in essence, it boils down to: Be the adult that you want your kids to be. I feel that starting from that point inevitably transfers to any role I take. Be the spouse I want my spouse to be. Be the woman I want other women to be. Be the person I want other people to be. So, yes, it’s that guy Gandhi’s, (you may have heard of him) advice of being the change you want to see in the world. But like any phrase, when it’s used too much, it’s message begins to dilute itself. That’s where role modeling helps out.

Going to the gym early in the morning and not being there when my kids wake up was heavy on my mind until I used the role modeling shift. Not only am I doing something healthy in mind, body, and spirit for myself but it’s modeling to them the importance of taking care of yourself. Going out for drinks with dear friends or working late is the same deal. When you look at this from a place of role modeling, natural self-discipline and boundaries appear. You’re showing your values of friendship, work ethic, commitment, and love instead of preaching them.  So many people are stuck feeling that they need to sacrifice themselves as parents, partners, or co-workers to prove their worth. It backfires everytime. It breeds resentment and lack of self-worth; not the direction that we want to go. So even when my five-year-old doesn’t like my answer to her pleading “Plllllllease just oooooone more show,” I can’t help but think that sticking to my guns will transfer to her when she’s faced with a friend begging her to do something that she doesn’t want to do. If I negotiate the cost of a workshop or turn down a client, my hope is that staying true to myself will hopefully allow them to put this to practice when they find themselves in similar situations. I know that when I’m on the receiving end of people consistently respecting themselves I’m taking note – big time! It resonates and begets more self-respect within me and helps me make more confident decisions.

If I hold true to my integrity and slow down enough to hear even a whisper of intuition, the decision I make at that moment will be coming from a place of love.

This will not make everybody happy. This will not calm everybody down. This will not always be pretty and neat and cool and collected. And that is okay. Take Shirley Mac Claine’s heartwrenching “give my daughter the shot” scene that made Terms of Endearment one of the most unforgettable movies of our time. That is love. That is integrity. That is acting from a place of unconditional strength and love which tremendously helps to work through adversity and major hurdles that life throws at you.

My hope is that it helps you too.

 Terms of Endearment (1983 Director & Writer: James L. Brooks. Based on the novel by Larry McMurty) Follows hard-to-please Aurora looking for love, and her daughter’s family problems. 


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