I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, or I’ve said to myself the phrase, “well, that was a stupid decision,” in my life. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there. This is especially relevant, as the holiday season quickly approaches.
Now… everyone makes a “stupid” decision, now and again. I have made my fair share. This is not an assessment of intelligence, nor a state of being “stupid.” That is not what we are talking about. That is a pejorative judgement of a person, based on one flub-up or mistake. Luckily, we are not the sum of our screw ups. However, if we could have a clearer and more meaningful way to think about the decisions we make in our life, perhaps we could face-palm less? Perhaps, too, there are personal struggles that may keep us from making meaningful decisions.
For example: Anyone who knows me well, knows I loathe doing the dishes. That would be to the dismay of my wife, if she did not equally despise doing the floors- luckily we can swap those responsibilities. That was not always the case, and there may have been a time or two, early in our relationship, where I was less than mature and less than charitable in my approach to that abhorred household task. There may have been a time or two, where I later had to tell myself… well, that was a stupid decision.
I should have had the three questions you should ask yourself anytime you have a decision to make: Am I willing, able, and/or responsible for this thing that I am deciding?
Am I WILLING:
This is often the first consideration. Do I want to do this? Am I passionate about it – one way or another? Does it add meaning to my life?
If I am unwilling to do this, will it get done? Am I actually unable to do this, or am I unwilling to be able to do it?
This is often the consideration that has the most rationalization. If I am unwilling to do something, I am much more likely to suggest to myself that I am unable, or not fully responsible for my own personal responsibilities, and will talk myself out of it. Am I really unable and/or not responsible, or am I simply unwilling?
For example: If I am confronted with the responsibility of doing dishes, I may try to convince myself that I am unable to do them, for one reason or fifty. I may even try to figure out a way to become un-responsible for them… but this would all be facade to my antipathy of ceramic disinfecting. I am simply unwilling to do them.
Am I ABLE:
This is where I have to ask myself, “Am I: capable, qualified, available, and/or have experience or knowledge about it?”
Being capable means I am physically, emotionally, financially, logistically or otherwise available to address the issue myself, or with the help of my support group.
For example: I am completely physically able to wash dishes. If I suffered from some type of dysfunction, had allergic reactions to dish soap, or had a physical disability or impairment that made it impossible for me to access the sink, I would be able to say I was unable. None of these are true for me… I may simply be unwilling, but able, and likely responsible for the shared effort of the cleanliness of my home.
Am I RESPONSIBLE:
Is this a decision that is based on personal responsibilities? Is this something that has a personally ethical or moral responsibility to it? Are there responsibilities that I hold, due to relationships with other people, whether family or other social relationships?
For example: Do I even really need to explain why I am responsible for helping with the dishes??! Come on dude, just do the dishes. Or, figure out how to get them done. My wife and I just swap responsibilities to better match our personal preferences.
AM I WILLING, ABLE, AND/OR RESPONSIBLE? …THEN…
If the answer is YES to all of the above, then DO IT.
If the answer is NO to all of the above, DON’T DO IT.
If you are willing and able, but not responsible, then DO IT when you have the opportunity.
If you are responsible, and able, but unwilling, just DO IT anyway.
If you are responsible, and/or willing, but unable, then figure out how IT CAN BE DONE.
Now, there are further questions to ask, when it comes to relationships, families, or just roommates… questions about the immediacy of the task being done when it needs to be done; how something is done to a particularly preferred process; who gets involved; to value what the other person places on the task (the old cliche – “I want you to want to do it” phrase); etc. etc… but these would take several more blog posts to begin to unpack. For now… the more important question is – Am I willing, able, and/or responsible… and what do I do if I need to get it done?
What are some things that you struggle to get done? Are you able, willing and/or responsible to do them? Let us know!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF I JUST CAN’T GET THINGS DONE?
Perhaps it isn’t a matter of willingness or recognition of responsibility. Perhaps the inability to get things done is a symptom of a different type of problem. This changes the factor of ability. If someone struggles with depression, anxiety, or any number of mental or emotional disorders, it isn’t as simple as – just do it! Saying this to someone who struggles with one of these ailments doesn’t change the person’s ability. As much as I need to view my ability, willingness and responsibilities, I also need to be understanding of those same factors for others.
Inability to function in life could be a serious sign of an issue or struggle that could be helped. There is no shame in any of these struggles, but they can be difficult to bear. No one need deal with these struggles alone.
If you feel you are unable to make decisions, or have things that interfere with getting things done, schedule a session, or find a provider near you!