Understanding the decision making process to create better follow through

Career, Wellness

We make thousands of decisions every day; most snap decisions of when to look up or what time to leave. But of course some decisions just aren’t that simple.  The “big” decisions of life when we (usually) have to sit down and think about when to make a move. When opportunities present themselves and we have to decide whether or not to take one. Or it may be we recognize a characteristic or situation we would like to change. No matter the dilemma we ultimately reach that fork in the road knowing it’s time to make a decision.

However the interesting thing is, how many times we reach the brink of the decision but then walk away from it afraid to take the first step? A good indicator that we need to change what we are doing is when this keeps happening, when the decision keeps posing itself to us. Unfortunately it usually takes things to get negative before we will voluntarily make a difficult decision, and even once we finally do, over 80%* of us turn back, unable to follow through with our decision. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t end, as the change needs to be made, but we keep turning back.

Perhaps if we understand the process of a decision perhaps this can help us to get to the other side.

Kurt Lewin’s Change Model**


This is a very simple diagram of a decision. We have a decision to make but we are frozen in our current state. As we begin to transition through, we begin melting our old behaviors, or “Unfreezing”. This is a challenging step as we begin to move away what we know to be “normal”. All of a sudden fear steps in causing us to doubt why we ever made the decision to “unfreeze” in the first place. Perhaps it was a job we left or a relationship, but all of a sudden that thing that was driving you absolutely crazy doesn’t look so bad from here. But this is just the feeling of stepping outside of our comfort zone.

Traditionally speaking when one participates in this activity, (stepping outside their comfort zone) it becomes a positive or rewarding experience. Yet at this point 80% of us are turning back to something that was making us miserable. So if we can understand that we are simply stepping out of our comfort zone, that we are about to grow, change, experience something different, and in the end we will be grateful that we did it, don’t you think we can just keep putting one foot in front of the other to get to the other side of our decision? Which is of course, our new normal. That’s when you will look back at your old normal and be able to say, “what was I ever thinking?!”, and “I definitely stayed too long”.

It’s a process, but the theory of it helps to put it in perspective when we are going through it.  I hope you found this helpful and hope you can apply this in your life to change something that your gut has been communicating with you to do.


*80% of the population, once they have the guts to make change, start walking, hit a wall and then turn back” ~ Just Change It, Peggy Grall.
** The Sage Handbook of Methods in Social Psychology: Lewin’s equation

2 thoughts on “Understanding the decision making process to create better follow through

  1. Completely Agree. Temptation definitely tries to get the best of you when you make a decision to try to turn back but like you mentioned it is just stepping outside of your comfort zone…and that’s something we have to get used to. Love the post!

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