In a previous blog post, I wrote about my need to clarify my decision making process after I made a couple of choices that took me in a direction that was taking me further from where I wanted to be. Since, then I’ve been getting curious about how I make decisions.
It is 5 am in Hong Kong as I write this blog post. I’ve been up since 3 am with jet lag. I love exploring new places and foreign lands as much as the next person but I do not like ‘travel’. If there was a way to just teleport over here that would be great. Sadly, the only way for me to reach my destination is to take three flights over two days. This city is the first stop over.
When we get outside our normal routines, it becomes apparent how many decisions we make that are habitual. One study I read determined that about 40% of our daily actions are habitual. We don't even think about them. As an individual who likes routine - especially my morning rituals - I wonder if I have an even higher percentage of actions that are habitual. I follow a pretty set morning schedule. I get up a at the same time, go for a walk for an hour, come home have breakfast - almost always the same breakfast, shower, get dressed and begin whatever I have planned for the day.
Here, in my hotel room, my daily routine has been decimated. I’m not walking in a large city alone at 3 a.m when I wake up. I’m making tea and eating crackers I brought. I’m in bed writing my blog. The things I reach for in a typical day aren’t where I can find them. I have to think about things like which suitcase did I pack my charger in? My carry on? My large checked luggage? I’m exhausted about an hour after waking up having made far more decisions about things than I normally would make in my first hour of the day.
Oddly, I think this experience is why so many people love travel. It shakes us out of our routines. It makes us more aware of our surroundings. It is possible for us to go through most of our day in a fog, reaching for things that are always in the same place, participating in the same dynamics and systems of our routines. Travel allows us to look at our life through a different lens. This disruption has been a great opportunity for me to explore my own decision making!
Right now, I am paying attention and analyzing how I make decisions. Yesterday at the airport I had to decide how much currency to exchange for one day here. Here are some of the things I considered in a very short time frame:
- Will the taxi take credit cards? (It didn't)
- Will I have time to do any shopping along the way?
- Will I need to tip any of the service providers (what is the culture around tipping in Hong Kong)?
- Will I be back here again and I can use the money I exchange?
- Will they take American money or does it need to be Hong Kong dollars?
- How expensive are things here (the cab ride from the airport is 350 dollars - about 75 US dollars)
- Do I have a budget?
- Can I get money somewhere along the way if I run out?
I also asked my travel companion how much money she was getting. Eventually I decided on an amount but you can see how many questions were involved in making a fairly ‘simple decision’. Of course, the weight of our decisions can vary but I think that it is worthwhile considering how we make even the smaller, less critical choices. We are going to get to the big ones soon - the ones that keep us up all night. When you are in transition, making a decision can be overwhelming. It's good to have a process to follow to make sure that you are being objective and aligned with your values as you decide what's next in your life.
Today, I would like you to take a decision that you have made recently and break it down. How did you make the decision? List out everything you did. What factors did you need to consider? How did you make the decision? I would love it you would share it with me my email or on my Facebook page.