I briefly touched on confidence and decision-making in the complimentary Self-Discovery Confidence Building Workbook. It may be helpful to review that part before reading this blog article. Today I am going to discuss one-second decisions and add a short but powerful assignment. Why? Because I think we can all find value in developing the habit of quick decisions. 


Let’s start by defining what a “decision” is:

A decision is simply choosing a course of action. However, a true decision must be followed by immediate action. The immediate action may be taking the chosen course of action, or if time does not permit this, the immediate action may be a written note to yourself to complete the action at a specific time.

The immediate action informs the mind that a decision has been made. This helps to lock that decision into our physiology. 

For example, I decided in one-second to write on this topic. Why? Because I have found that practicing one-second decisions ultimately saves me time and energy.  After the decision, I quickly jotted down a few ideas swimming around in my mind. Then I set the intention to flesh them out within four days.

I think we can all get good at doing this quickly. Simply put, if we are clear on our goals/vision, many of our decisions can be streamlined.

It can be much too easy to let ourselves get caught up in gathering and analyzing information. When we get caught up in analysis, we naturally limit the new actions we take. Why? Because hesitancy allows self-doubt and uncertainty the chance to settle in. Sitting on the fence eats away at our precious time and energy and slows our progress.

For analyzers, like me, who get sometimes get stuck in the information gathering stage or for people who allow automatic responses to rule the day, a one-second decision can feel scary. However, if we can swallow the idea that more decisions mean more learning and quicker progress, this can help to push us past analysis paralysis.


Let’s have a quick look at a few ways we go about making decisions:

1.  State-dependent decision-making

Like a toddler who is tired, hungry, or simply exposed to an unfamiliar stimulus, we often don’t have the wherewithal to see beyond the moment. Making poor or impulsive decisions when we are not feeling up to par can become a habit.

When we don’t know what we want or we are in a vulnerable state, our decisions can be slow, nonexistent, or simply not aligned with our goals/vision. Yet, if we truly want to be the confident CEO of our lives, we will commit to fostering a growing belief in ourselves. 

This means we strive to build a sense of certainty that the decisions we make are right for us (or we will at least learn from them), regardless of how we may be feeling in the moment.

2.  Program-dependent decision-making

We make decisions by weighing alternatives, but this is based on our history or the story we tell ourselves. These decisions reflect the identity we have come to adopt over time:

  • about who we are
  • what we think we deserve
  • and what we think we are capable of

These types of decisions are often fuelled by old borrowed beliefs (not consciously chosen and tested). Decisions from a program dependent perspective, aren’t conscious “decisions.” They may keep us safely in familiar territory but they often do little to move us forward.

3.  Freely chosen, goal-directed decision-making

These decisions are made from a place of awareness. We know what is important to us. We have a goal/vision of what it is we want to do, be or have. Sometimes we don’t know what we want to do, be or have and one sure way to find out is to start making more decisions in the spirit of self-discovery.

Freely chosen, goal-directed decisions can be the most difficult ones to make but they are the ones that will support our healing and growth. These decisions are aligned with becoming the confident CEO of our lives. Quickly choosing between alternatives, from a place that is aligned with a bigger picture, should ideally take us no more than one second.

Decisions come faster when we have a growing clarity about what is important to us. They also allow us to experiment and learn what matters if we are lacking clarity. 


Let’s do a quick summary.

Learning to make quick decisions is a skill that can be built, much like a muscle. The payoff is 1) time and energy 2) lessons learned 3) more progress.

We know that the more decisions we make and the more action we take, the quicker we can learn. If we intend to heal, grow, and expand we need to decide to do so. I believe that the only way to make progress is through experimenting and learning.

Is one-second decision-making really possible? I think so. Does it take some work? You betcha!


Let’s put this into practice…

Are there some areas of your life that one-second decision-making would be helpful? Really, that is for you to decide and play with.

If you would like to experiment with the idea of one-second decision-making, I encourage you to start small. Forget big goals for now. Just get a good sense of what a milestone toward your goals/vision might look and feel like 3 months from now.  

A three-month time frame is realistic for most people. Why? Because shorter time frames can build a feeling of overwhelm and longer ones tend to lull us into thinking that we have all the time in the world, and none of us do. It can be very helpful to keep the idea of your “why” in mind (please refer to your workbook).

“If I want to do, be or have __________________________________ in 3 months, my one-second decision regarding_______________________________is_______________________________.”

Remember, if the required action is not one that can be taken immediately, at the very least take a minute to jot down some notes. Engaging your physiology this way will help to solidify the decision and increase the likelihood of action.

A final thought to consider-what does one second decision-making have to do with building a greater belief in ourselves?

I am certain that this assignment will offer you plenty of insights if you choose to put it into practice.  I continue to build my one-second decision-making muscle and am finding the practice to be challenging but extremely helpful.  

Terri Lee Cooper MSc. RSW