Common and Deadly Decision Traps

By: Arman Darini, Ph.D.

Good to be connecting with you again. Our topic for today is common and deadly decision traps, and how to avoid them. Recall that in the previous article we spoke about the structure of extraordinary decision making, and I explained the steps you have to follow to make excellent outcomes happen. As you follow the steps, it’s important to watch out for a handful of places where most people consistently make mistakes. I will point out two of them today, explain how to sidestep each one and top it off with a simple way to turn hesitation into decisiveness. Your job, of course, is to be honest with yourself, notice what you need to work on, and learn how to improve your decision muscle.

FIRST TRAP of plunging in:

Ok, the first major trap happens even before the deciding starts. It’s the trap of plunging in headfirst into the deciding without pausing to answer one critical question: What’s the essence of the problem?

Let’s take our decision example from last week: “How do I double my salary?” If you jump in to answer this question without thinking, you might answer the wrong question altogether. Ask yourself first: “What’s the essence of the problem?” Are you even seeing the different possibilities? Consider these and notice just how much they differ:
- You need to make more money.
- You want to feel that your work is valued appropriately.
- You are looking for another challenge.
- Your spouse is beating you over the head demanding that you earn more.
- You want to bolster your self-esteem.

Do you see how each of these completely changes the underlying decision, and will necessarily lead to different alternatives and outcomes? For example, if you are looking for another challenge, then you won’t take up the job washing dishes in a restaurant. If, on the other hand, it’s about your self-esteem, then the simplest solution might be invest in a couple of hours of NLP coaching to quickly improve your self-esteem that way.

If you are not aware of the essence of the problem, then you will randomly pick one and it’s often the wrong one. Just think how many times have you thought you really wanted something, went out and bought it, and a few days later felt as dissatisfied as your were before the purchase. You’ve been solving the wrong problem!

SECOND TRAP of frame blindness:

The second major decision trap is frame blindness. Recall from the last newsletter that framing the decision happens in languaging the question that you pose. Framing is inevitable, and it brings some aspects of the problem into the focus, while pushing others into the background.

One subtle and influential frame effect is hidden inside the unspoken beliefs you have about what is possible. These beliefs form the boundaries of your map of the world. If you don’t believe it is possible to triple your salary, then your decision frame will exclude this alternative. If you believe that it is hard to find someone who will love you wholeheartedly, then you will refuse to consider the easy opportunities to meeting such person.

Your beliefs frame your reality. And you know what? Most of them are arbitrary. What’s even worse, most of the beliefs you’ve got were installed into your mind without your awareness by your well-meaning family, friends, school, and culture. Unfortunately well-meaning is not the same as wise. All this happened when you were a small child and quite gullible. If we laid out your beliefs on a flat table in front of your eyes and you examined them right now, you would find many of them silly, outdated and false.

So, how can you avoid this trap of unspoken beliefs? Whenever you pose a decision question, ask yourself: “What will always remain true in any answer to this question?” Take, for instance, the decision: “How do I double my salary?” Regardless of the answer, you will be looking for ways to increase the salary and not to save the money. And you will be looking for a job where someone pays you a salary. Once the beliefs presupposed by the question become clear, choose whether you want to expand the frame or leave it as it is. (As an exercise, count all the unspoken beliefs inside the “Where can I find the love of my life?” decision.)

All right, enough about traps. You’ve listened attentively, you’ve learned well, you followed the extraordinary decision making steps and you carefully avoided the traps. Now is finally the right time to make the decision and take the first action. BUT, what’s that? What are those unbidden questions in your mind: “Have I really thought this through?” “Is there something I haven’t considered?” “What else could I do?”

Stalling. Hesitating. Feeling afraid of closing the doors on other opportunities. Because by making the decision you commit to one path and close off all the others. If you are of the kind that likes to keep her options open, then deciding means trouble.

Oh-oh. What to do? Well, if I was your coach working with you 1 on 1, then there are a few hundred of different possibilities we could explore to find the right solution for you. But, not having this luxury, here is a cookie cutter approach that often works right out of the box. Ask yourself: “How many opportunities am I missing right now by deciding to become rigid with hesitation?” Most people rarely consider the cost of not making the decision right away, and so rarely feel the urgency. This question moves you beyond hesitation into action. And, as you well know, decisions are lifeless until you take the first step. NOW.

Unleash the Power Within!

You’ve just read TIP #85 FOR CREATING AN EXTRAORDINARY AND MEANINGFUL LIFE brought to you by Holographic University. To get the next Tip visit us at:

May You Be Happy!
- Arman Darini, Ph.D.

Arman Darini, Ph.D. is the director of Holographic University, the author of weekly Tips for Creating an Extraordinary and Meaningful Life, and a certified international Trainer. As the leader of a dynamic team of Life Trainers and Coaches, Arman’s motto is “I don’t believe in your limitations”. To learn more about Arman, visit

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About Corey

I am a lifelong student of NLP.
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