I have this theory that there are two types of decisions in your life. Low-calorie decisions (LCDs) and high-calorie decisions (HCDs).
So LCDs are decisions you take on a daily basis. All the time, over and over again. Decisions as simple as what shirt you put on or what route you take to work. For these decisions, you can easily draw upon one thing: your experience which is shaped by your preferences and your values. We take them at ease because we have taken them before and we understand ourselves well enough to know what’s best for us. I call them low-calorie decisions because you hardly use any brainpower or emotions (or time or effort for that sake).
On the other hand, you occasionally have to make some tough decisions, decisions that are HCDs, high-calorie decisions. Some examples that come to mind are: choosing between two weddings happening on the same weekend. Choosing between various business school offers. Breaking up with someone. Moving to a new location. I think you get the idea.
These are the decisions that require you to think, consider, debate, ponder and [insert fancy verb here]. You think and think, but no matter how much you think, you are still torn. Sometimes you go to bed feeling you know what you want, but that elusive certainty dissolves in your dreams and the next morning you feel thrown back to square one. At times you are desperate and you start talking to your friends and colleagues about it so you can pick their brain and get their perspective – what would they do if they were you? So these HCDs burn a lot of mental calories because they soak up all your brainpower, emotions, time and effort.
And while we can use our experiences and the understanding of ourselves to solve the LCDs, the HCDs can only be solved if we draw upon our inner compass. The problem with this inner compass, however, is that it doesn’t always reveal itself to us upon request. Our inner compass is a system that is nurtured and maintained far away from our active consciousness. It is hidden and rather difficult to read. Sometimes you have an idea, an inkling, but it’s hard to interpret clearly.
That said, I have figured out a way which helps me surface my inner compass for these high-calorie-type decisions. It’s the simple act of calling my mom. Wait what? Yes! Calling my mom! Before I explain why calling your mom can help you read your inner compass, let me establish a second theory that I have. Namely that the inner compass in you often carries the answer before you actually know it – and by "you" I mean your active consciousness, your brain, your mind.
Let’s say you are torn between two options. Option A and option B. You have thought about it for days, you have talked to all your friends, you did your research, but you still can’t make up your mind. BUT, what happened during all this process of racking your brain is that you secretly nurtured your inner compass. While you are still agonizing in your mind, your inner compass already has the answer. You simply can’t see it yet. Remember? The inner compass is this uber-nebulous thing which is super hard to read.
And this is why calling my mom comes into play. When I call my mom and I want to tell her about how I have to choose between A and B, something very funny happens. While I'm explaining to her what my options are, there is this very quiet feeling me which secretly hopes she says (for example) A over B. And when she says B, I become defensive and challenge her. But when she says A, I get this feeling that "this is what I wanted to hear." This – ladies and gentlemen – is your inner compass revealing itself to you.
It doesn't really matter if your mom says A or B, her preference regarding your decisions dilemma is actually completely irrelevant. What is relevant though is what you were secretly and quietly hoping to hear. If calling your mom about not necessarily something you'd wanna do, you can always flip a coin and then listen to how you feel about the result of the flip. Will you be ok with "heads" or did you quietly hope you had tossed "tails?" Again, that's your inner compass talking to you, so listen up!