Don't Beat Yourself Up; You've Laid Good Ground: Emotions Aren't the Enemy of Good Decision-Making

Tara H

Hatched by Tara H

Mar 05, 2024

3 min read


Don't Beat Yourself Up; You've Laid Good Ground: Emotions Aren't the Enemy of Good Decision-Making

Setting goals and working towards self-improvement can often feel overwhelming. We have this ideal version of ourselves in mind, but it seems so far away. The distance between where we are and where we want to be can be demotivating, causing us to beat ourselves up for not making enough progress. However, it's essential to shift our focus from how much farther we need to go to the progress we've already made.

Henry David Thoreau once said, "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." Instead of dwelling on the remaining tasks or goals yet to be achieved, celebrate the steps you've taken so far. Take losing weight as an example. If your goal is to lose fifty pounds and you've only lost ten pounds in three months, don't beat yourself up about the forty pounds you have left to lose. Instead, acknowledge and celebrate the ten pounds you have already shed.

One effective way to keep track of your progress is by regularly writing down your accomplishments. At the end of each year, reflect on ten significant wins you've achieved in the past twelve months. Quarterly, assess how you've improved in the past ninety days. Monthly, jot down your specific achievements, such as the number of workouts completed, books read, or debt paid off. On a daily basis, write down three wins that occurred in the past 24 hours, no matter how small they may seem. By counting both big and small wins, you consistently remind yourself of the progress you've made.

While progress tracking is crucial, it's equally important to acknowledge and understand the role of emotions in decision-making. When faced with a significant decision, take a moment to identify and examine your dominant emotion. Are you feeling fear, anxiety, overwhelm, or excitement? Understanding the source of your emotions can create some distance between them and your actions.

Naming our feelings allows us to acknowledge them without letting them control our decision-making process. It's crucial to gain this distance and examine the emotions objectively. Consider the impact of both positive and negative emotions on your decision-making. If you've made a successful decision in the past, how did it make you feel? Did you experience a sense of accomplishment, relief, or clarity for the future? Reflecting on the emotional outcomes of previous decisions helps us make more informed choices.

By practicing emotional bookending, we can better identify and tolerate our emotions. This process prevents us from burying or running away from them, allowing us to make decisions with clarity and confidence. It helps us move forward in a way that aligns with our goals and values.

In conclusion, don't beat yourself up over the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Celebrate the progress you've made and use it as motivation to keep going. Additionally, recognize and embrace the role of emotions in decision-making. Take the time to identify your dominant emotion, understand its source, and reflect on the emotional outcomes of past decisions. By doing so, you can make more informed choices and move towards your ideal self with clarity and confidence.

Actionable advice:

  • 1. Regularly track your progress by writing down your accomplishments. This helps you stay motivated and reminds you of the progress you've made.
  • 2. Take a moment to identify and examine your dominant emotion when making important decisions. Understand how it may be influencing your choices.
  • 3. Reflect on the emotional outcomes of past successful decisions. This reflection can provide insight into how emotions can impact the decision-making process.

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