Let’s Get “Decisive,” Part 1

I just read Decisive, the new book by Chip and Dan Heath. They’re wonderful writers who focus on how people can communicate their ideas and make changes in their lives and businesses. (Their first book, Made to Stick, is a classic.)

Decisive contains many small but powerful ideas, so I’ll break them down into a series of posts, and put a childfree spin on each one.

Decisive Rule #1: Widen your spotlight.

We often get trapped into either/or decisions without quite knowing how we got there. So the “spotlight” of our attention is focused very narrowly, and there may be excellent options just outside its range. According to the Heaths, any time you’re wondering “whether or not” to do something, beware, because there are other options you’re leaving off the table.

For example, instead of obsessing about “whether or not” to move in with your boyfriend, ask yourself: “What makes me happy about our relationship? What would I like to see change?”

Maybe it bugs you that you always have to pack a bag before heading over to your guy’s place for the weekend. If he gives you use of a dresser drawer and you can keep some clothes there, how will that feel? A relief? More pressure?

Widening the spotlight helps us chop up a big meaty question into bite-sized pieces. And it helps us reframe a problem, so that our creative mind can attack it with gusto.

 “Whether or not” to have a kid is one big, overwhelming question. But even though it seems like the ultimate either-or decision, shining a slightly broader spotlight shows that it’s not.

There are many ways for me to nurture people other than raising a child. Mentoring and teaching jump to mind right away.

There are lots of ways for me to be creative, without creating a new human life. Writing, singing, doing crafty art projects, and cooking all satisfy that urge.

And there are lots of ways for me to have kids in my life, without crossing that huge whether-or-not line to becoming a mom.

What do you think about the “widen your spotlight” idea? Has this ever worked for you?