Saturday morning I wrestled with the pros and cons of hiking. The weather forecasted rain starting around noon. My daughter, who starts her sophomore year at U. of Washington this week, was home for one final weekend. I hadn’t hiked since our birthday trip to Peek-a-Boo Lake. I reflected on resistance and ambivalence and how decisional balance can help us make choices when we face change.
Decisional Balance: Cons
Resistance and ambivalence are normal and expected in the process of change. I tend to focus on obstacles first. If I perceive too many, I avoid the first step, in this case, getting into the car. The roadblocks felt ample:
- My daughter was home for the weekend, but she had to work, so I would be hiking alone with Ajax
- Hiking half a day meant delaying my weekly blog
- We’d get a later start than usual since I hadn’t totally packed
- Even in the shoulder season, weekend crowds are still likely on trails
- Hiking meant postponing doing my foot and hip rehab exercises
- I had no audiobook to listen to on the drive and nobody to talk to
When I listed the cons, I noticed the biggest ones revolved around going alone and prioritizing my time. Then I shifted my thoughts to how I might reframe them into positives.
Decisional Balance: Pros
Reframing is one of the most powerful tools in a coach’s toolbox. It helps us turn negatives into positives. Here’s what I came up with when I tried turning my cons into pros:
- I committed to doing a ramble a week with my dog Ajax this year; this would be number 60.
- Hiking would supply a topic and photos for a blog post; nobody cares about the timing of launches but me
- We could get on the trail by 7:15; the hike I wanted to do never had very many people
- I could do my PT later in the evening
- Hiking in the morning would mean we’d beat the rain
- Birdsong! Need I say more? Fall migrants might present themselves
- Enjoying nature is one of the best ways for me to reflect on all the changes in my life
- I wanted a memorable way to celebrate finishing the Precision Nutrition Master Health Coach course which is the first stepping stone to becoming a board-certified Health and Wellness Coach with the NBHWC
By reframing my list of cons into pros, I could focus on the main reason to hike: to celebrate! If we don’t highlight and enjoy our accomplishments, they get lost in the rush of daily living. I wanted to pause and do something I love, even if it meant delaying other important things.
Assessing Change Readiness
Enter decisional balance, which is a way of weighing the costs and benefits of choices. For simple decisions, we do this intuitively and quickly, usually without writing anything down. But if you have larger life changes you’ve been considering for quite a while, writing the pros and cons on paper might help.
An example of a hard decision is whether to stay at a current job with people you enjoy that provides security and benefits, but which is totally boring, or to switch to a better-paying job in a new industry with a lot to learn and no guarantees. Which direction you choose depends on your values, identity, and priorities.
To explore decisions yourself, check out this decisional balance worksheet from Nova Southeastern University, along with an explanation of how to complete it. Precision Nutrition also offers a worksheet called the decision journal.
On our descent, we hit an unexpected obstacle. I’d started composing a blog post in my mind about decisional balance and stopped paying attention to the trail. When we reached a turnstile with a sign for the Bootleg Trail, I stopped in my tracks.
Crud! How did we get on the wrong trail?
We weren’t exactly lost. I’d been on this stretch during prior exploratory rambles. But we were too far east. My attempt to access a map showing whether the Tiger Mountain Trail or Railroad Grade route crossed nearby failed. Drat Mint Mobile!
Oh well, I thought, what’s another mile? As we did on Squak, we retraced our steps. Fortunately, I found the bypass trail with faint blue arrows pointing west. Aha! Back on track.
I certainly didn’t expect to see Bootleg Trail yesterday. Nor did I anticipate my hesitancy to launch the wellness coaching branch of our company. As in all aspects of life, sometimes our experiences and expectations don’t match.
Yet mistakes are great teachers. And when we make mistakes and say “Oh well, no big deal,” or better yet, “What can I learn from this?” we advance toward cultivating a growth mindset.
Once we reached a trail I recognized, I reflected on the past twenty weeks of coaching classes. I also reminded myself of my intention to continue the forward momentum I’d built all summer. On our way down the Cable Line trail to our car, I shot some videos introducing Webtraining. My first step toward getting less awkward in front of the camera is to take more video selfies while on hikes. I got this!
In the end, my decision to hike yesterday was the best one I could have made. As soon as we got home, it started to pour. The forecast for the foreseeable future is rain. But I’m basking in the glow of a summer of successes and of yesterday’s wonderful (albeit long) celebration hike.