• Sara Gouveia

Making Choices

What we do in an every day basis affects something much bigger than our personal lives. Every choice we make has an impact on other people lives and on the world.


Options, options, options

When was the last time you made a choice with your full awareness?

Dictonaries describe the meaning of decision as a choice made about something after thinking about several possibilities. Although, quite often we find ourselves deciding rapidly, almost like intuitevely. This can be explained by the premisse that we make far more subconcious choices than conscious ones. Our mind uses the memory of past events and experiences to make quick judgements and decisions – meaning that we subcounciously already made a decision, before we realise we have.


How do we know we’re deciding and acting consciously?

Edgar Schein developed the Observation-Reaction-Judgement-Intervention model, a mental process considering the way human choices are made when interacting with others.

According to the model, we are an active intervener making and helping things happen. We observe or experience the events happening, we react emotionally to our understanding, we judge and draw conclusions, and we intervene by making decisions and actions.

By trying and expirementing the ORJI model on our everyday work, and even in our personal lives can generate a deep understanding of our choices and learn about ourselves.


Observation (O): What am I observing and experiencing? What do I observe about myself – my feelings, my physical response to what is happening?


Emotional Reaction (R): Where am I in the reaction to what I have observed? What patterns, habits and assumptions do I particularly have that lead me to react this way?


Judgement (J): Where am I in the judgement I am forming about what has happened? What do I know about myself, my habitual decisions and why I am leaning towards certain judgements?


Intervention (I): Where am I in the intervention I choose to make? What behaviours am I displaying, whose purpose are they serving and are they creating the type of response I want?


Unfortunately, when problems are pressing, emotions can work in opposition to rational thought, wanting to take over and skipping the observation process, thus often leading to false assumptions and judgements, and poor intervention.



It is paramount to be authentic and reflective


There is no guarantee for authenticity. There are fears that conduct us to what is comfortable, resisting the evidence and try to escape responsibility. Supressing discussion, lying about facts, obscuring evidence and so on, destroy authenticity. Be attentive to data, be intelligent in inquiry, be reasonable in making judgements, be responsible in making decisions and taking action.

Different authors describe reflection as the process of stepping back from experience to question it and to have insights with a view to planning further action. It is the critical link between the concrete experience, the judgement and taking action.


The ORJI model

How can we develop the skills for better decision making?

While attending an online course, from Future Learn I learned several skills that allowed me to become more conscious in making decisions.


I realised the way I was communicating with people and how often that communication was ineffective. The words were right but my voice tone and posture were sometimes wrong. It is very important to understand the implications of deciding and acting subconciously. I was able realise how my life, my health, relationships and success were being affected.

Several sources mention journaling as a significant mechanism for developing reflective and self-exploration skills. By writing down our observations and experiences in a journal, we are able to clarify our thoughts and feelings, learn how to deal with them and anticipate future experiences.


It is also a usefull way of exploring the emotions involved in painful experiences. This can help you to process your feelings and explore more positive reframing options.

Sam Owen, a relationship coah, explains how affirmations and positive self-talk are fundamental in our lives to achieve happiness and success.

On my previous post “Feeling that you are struggling at your job”, I list a few tips in how to deal with pressure and stress at work. Luckily, these can be implemented in any aspect of our lives.


Strategies to start a journal:

There are several reasons why you’d like to begin a journal. And there are different types of journaling that you’d might be interested in.


Here’s some tips in how to start the basis

  • Clear your mental desk

  • Think about everything that it’s happening in your life

  • Notice the feelings you experience while doing this and write them down as well

  • Give your full focus while writing in your journal

  • Read and reflect about what you wrote

  • Plan strategies to reframe future experiences to a desired outcome

  • Make it a habit



Experiment using these techniques. When do you use it, and does this impact your learning about yourself?


#decisions #emotions #journal #reflection

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