Readers, the next time you’re struggling to decide whether a major purchase is really worth it, try this technique:
First, draw a line down the middle of a blank sheet of paper. On one side, list all the emotional reasons for and against making the purchase. On the other side, list all the rational, logic-based reasons.
Okay, done? Next, ask yourself the two following questions:
1) Which emotional reasons interfere with your logical reasons?
2) Which logical reasons obscure important emotions you're feeling?
Then, draw lines connecting the various reasons from both sides of the paper that impact each other. Seeing exactly how your various reasons interact helps you make a decision that satisfies all your needs, emotional and logical.
This decision-making technique might help you realize that an enormously costly vacation won't actually satisfy the emotional needs you thought it would. Could a lower-cost weekend getaway (or a zero-cost quiet weekend at home) be a more effective way to achieve the same thing?
Other examples: Perhaps that dream house you can’t quite afford isn’t really meeting your needs so much as fulfilling an idealized self-image that isn’t really you. Then again, maybe your fear of buying a house isn’t a financial fear so much as a fear of putting down roots.
Issues like these often hide in the frontier between our feelings and our sense of logic, and this emotion/reason technique helps uncover them. We’re emotional beings, not Vulcans. We have feelings whether we ignore them or not. Suppressing them just causes them to burst out in harmful ways later.
The next time you’re debating over emotionally-charged big-ticket purchases like housing, cars, major vacations, decisions about large debts and so on, try building an emotions vs. reasons list. It should help you achieve the right decision-making balance between each side of your mind. They both play a role!
Readers, what do you think?
I owe a debt of gratitude to Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves' book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 for helping me arrive at some of the ideas in this post.
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