We make decisions every minute of the day, from what we’re going to eat to how we spend our money to which opportunities we pursue. While decisions affect every aspect of our lives, have you ever thought about how we make decisions? How can two people be faced with the same options and make wildly different choices?
Each person approaches his or her options differently. That’s because our decision-making factors come from our metaprograms, or the mental processes that determine what motivates us and how we interpret the world.
Understanding your own metaprograms is an invaluable tool when it comes to making progress in your life. Once you learn the factors that play a part in your decision-making, you can ensure every choice you make takes you one step closer to your goals.
When a job prospect comes your way, do you think about all the benefits that would come with accepting the position, or are you caught up on the other opportunities you’d miss out on if you take this position? What motivates you to accept or decline the job offer? Are you motivated by desire or fear?
If you’re motivated by desire, and would consider yourself someone who sees the glass half full rather than half empty, you’re a toward person. You need to be motivated by goals and rewards. You find the silver lining and make your choices based on the pursuit of pleasure.
If you answered fear, you’re an away person. You need to be motivated by something negative, including the consequences of not doing something. You find it makes more sense to identify the potential risks and downsides of a situation than to look at the positives.
Who do you turn to when you’re trying to make a big decision?
If you’re someone who seeks out a point of reference internally, then you simply think about the issue and make a decision for yourself. An internal person will rely on what’s important to them and turns inward to make their choice.
If you find yourself seeking out points of reference externally, then you reach out to people in your life for their feedback. As an external person, you look to others and rely on testimonials and statistics. You want validation from outside sources, so you can make the most well-informed choices possible.
What drives you at work? Are you curious about the potential your job has for growth? Does your industry excite you? If you’re someone who sees the many possibilities of a situation and is motivated by the growth you can pursue there, you’re a possibilities person.
Others are motivated by necessity. If you’re a necessity person, you like your job because you know how to do it well and you perform the tasks required of you without thinking too much outside the box. You like being shown what you need to do and executing, whereas someone who identifies as a possibilities person is motivated by seeing what they could potentially achieve.
Are you more likely to focus on what’s the same or what’s different?
As a matcher, you focus on finding sameness and will be motivated by relating something new to something you’re already familiar with. There are two types of matchers: matchers who focus on sameness and matchers who focus on sameness with exception. Sameness matchers relate a new experience to something positive in their past. Sameness with exception matchers look at how an experience is like something they’re familiar with, while still finding a unique quality within the situation.
If you focus on differences, you’re a mismatcher. Mismatchers are separated into two groups as well: polarity mismatchers and those who mismatch by counterexample. The former is motivated by doing the opposite of what they’re told, and the latter feels validated by seeing counterexamples to the decision they’re facing.
Some people are motivated by the big picture, while others find more comfort in the details. If you’re a generalist, you like to focus on the master plan and are always thinking about your overall goal. As you make decisions, you think about how it will affect what you’re trying to achieve in the long run.
If you’re a specific person, however, you’re concerned with the details and will be doubtful if only given a general sense of the situation. You don’t regularly think about the future and are able to hone in on the short term.
Which metaprograms resonated with you? Does this help you to better understand why we make decisions? Now that you’ve identified these patterns in yourself and others, you can more effectively communicate your needs and understand your decision-making process.
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