I hate to admit it, but I recently tuned into The Block. It isn't something I would normally do, but I find people use it as a conversation point with me. And I don't want to be rude. So I just watch 'The Reveal' to be in the know. For me, it's quite enough.
As I watch 'The Reveal' episode recapping over the past week, I'm instantly reminded why I really don't like these programs. It's all the drama. This particular episode, showcased an individual agonising over a tile choice for 8 hours, desperately trying to choose the right one. It frustrated me. Firstly because I believe scenes like this debilitates viewers. The drama confirms what most of us struggle with. The pressure that individuals endure when making decisions on anything that has a level of permanence or volume in a space. Tiles, cabinetry and drapery are the worst offenders.
The lure for drama means the show doesn't demonstrate how to make good decisions. Smart, in depth, confident, sometimes quick, decisions with bigger ticket items. Individuals are far more comfortable in making short and confident decisions on other items such as furniture and accessories. The fact that these are cheap and almost disposable takes away the pressure. It's a society issue as my previous blog attests too. But our ability to make short sharp and, more often, shallow decisions on a daily basis seriously effects our ability to make more rigorous decisions effortlessly. The leap from making low involvement decisions to high involvement ones, is a struggle for many.
In addition, the pressure to find the "right" one is immense. As our confidence in making good decisions on major purchases wavers, we fall into a default of copying what we see. What happens is people end up asking for "the bed I saw on the block" "the kitchen I saw in a magazine" in an effort to replicate something that is 'right'.
I have two favorite sayings. First from the Dalai Lama who once said "I've got so much to do today that I will have to meditate twice as long." The other is an article which I recently read entitled, "I procrastinate so much it makes me really efficient." Both essentially mean the same thing. Leave, or give, yourself a minimal amount of time to undertake a task and you will get it done. The same can be applied to decision making.
Yes there's a lot of choices out there, but making a decision doesn't need to be hard. You can make quick, yet great, decisions. The problem is the word "Right." What is right? If you expand out from that word you gain confidence in making the best decision and learn how to accept elimination and let go of choices. Which for some, is the biggest challenge.
Making the right decision for whom? So much pressure is created by the need to make the right decision that people loose faith in things like gut feeling or "I like it". Unless you're decorating in preparation to sell, or spruce up a holiday rental, then you're most likely making decisions for your home. At the end of the day it's your home. You need to like it. Ideally love it.
I use what I have coined "the Anchor and Cascade" method. There will be one thing in a room that you are not prepared to loose or back down on. Possibly two! This is your anchor. By choosing this anchor, you will automatically eliminate other choices instantly. It's a natural cascading selection process you learn to embrace. An example of this would be by choosing a circular bench mounted basin you instantly eliminate square shaped taps.
The secret is to look for repetition in colour, pattern, texture, finish and style from your anchor in other pieces or finishes. This will create consistency and harmony in the space, as well as a checklist for shortlisting. Some put the "I like it" at the front of the shortlisting, some at the back. There's no right or wrong. How many of the above elements you look to repeat in subsequent pieces will depend on how tight or cohesive you want your space to be.
Making the right decision for what? Here you need to ask yourself questions about whether the item will do what you need it to do. I have alluded to this in previous blogs, but you need to consider suitability of material, size, shape, durability to name a few. Knowing what you need an item to do for you is the easy part. The difficult part is knowing what constitutes delivering that function. Here you have to do research. An simple example of this would be calculating the volume of a fridge. Is the fridge big enough to cope with a family of six? Is the fridge too big for our family of three? A more complex example would be choosing fabric for curtains that are going to provide the best acoustic properties for your open plan space.
Making the right decision for your budget? Everyone has a budget. What you need to ask yourself is "is it the best I can afford". What the best is, will depend on what your priorities are. Mine is always sustainability focused, so the best Australian-made I can afford or the most ethical that I can afford. But others maybe, the best quality, the largest capacity, the neatest finish .... I can afford.
By applying these questions, to any item you are considering, can really eliminate your choices, which is what it's all about. You need to learn to let go of choices. Be happy as options fall away. Let it go. Let it go. You can take this elimination even further by turning the process completely on it's head and taking the decision making bull really by the horns.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with not browsing. Yes, NOT BROWSING. But how do you do this when you don't know what your choices are? By knowing what you need and want. I have lost count the amount of times I have gone straight to a supplier or retailer and asked "I need a [insert here] that has to be 'A' and 'B'. Must do 'C' and 'D' and have an 'E'. Do you have anything?" This targeted approach is liberating in every essence of the word. It's saving you huge amounts of time. There is contentment to be found in making decisions based on what is placed before you by someone else.
When someone says "Are you happy to browse"
Say "NO!" and expand "I would like you to show me a (insert here) that does A, has a B and must C. What have you got?"
Believe you me, suppliers and retailers find it refreshing and love the challenge. I think you will. I challenge you to give it a go.