Life is a sum of all your choices – Albert Camus
I went into the clinic the other day to get my monthly allergy shot and I started thinking about how far I have come in the long process of getting desensitized to my allergens…
When I turned 50 (and I mean literally the week I turned 50) , I started having horrible sinus issues. For someone who had never had a sinus infection in her life, this was a rude awakening into the life of chronic rhinitis and sinusitis (sounds like I should be running through a jungle but they are actually just fancy terms for nasal problems). I ran through the gamut of X-rays, scans, Neti-pots, sinus sprays and and over-the-counter medications…, nothing ever seemed to get rid of the constant tiredness, flu-like symptoms and not to mention the inability to breathe in and out of my nose.
Then I was referred to a Doctor specializing in Asthma and Allergies to see if he could provide some insight and cure for my problem. I always knew I was allergic to cats so I stayed away from them all of my life and I also had what we called hay fever when I was young but I had outgrown those symptoms by my late teens. So off I went to the Allergy doctor and laid down on a table as my back was subjected to 25 different types of common allergens. I only reacted to three: cats (which I already knew), tall grasses (that grow from May into July), and then came the biggest shock… I was allergic to dogs! I about fell off the exam table when the nurse came in and said, “oh my, you have a strong reaction going on here…”. I have had dogs since I was in my teens and when one goes, another finds its way into my heart and home… how the heck could I be allergic to puppies of all things?
I had to make some choices… I have two beautiful puppies (okay adult dogs…) and the last thing I was ever going to do was to banish my puppies from my home… nope, that wasn’t going to happen. So what were my choices? Did I continue on with my Neti Pot, Mucinex, nasal spray and Sudafed regime twice a day in the hopes of gaining some relief or do I go full out and begin taking allergy shots for dogs so that I can hopefully build up a resistance to the allergens my furry little friends surround me with?
Choices…some are easy and no brainers, others are more difficult because the consequences could create major issues. In my case, the risk of an allergic reaction was very real and going down the path of allergy shots meant I had to change my blood pressure medications from one that worked very well to another that had slightly different effects.
Choices…choices….choices. It didn’t take me long to make the decision to go the allergy shot route because my dogs are a part of my life. I was willing to go through short-term discomfort and the time commitment with the ultimate hope that I will have a much improved quality of life in the long run.
It didn’t take me long to make a decision because that is part of my personality trait. I am a quick decision maker and when I make up my mind, I want it done yesterday (if not the day before…).
There are several personality style tests out on the market but all of the ones I have taken all steer towards the same four basic styles and each of these styles has a little different twist to decision making:
The Thinker/Analytical: For those of us who are more analytical in nature (I use the term “us” a bit facetiously because my analytical capabilities are buried quite deep…), we need lots of facts, figures and validation studies to dig through before allowing ourselves to commit to a decision. The analytical thinking style is very important when it comes to making critical decisions, those decisions in which the consequences could be devastating if the appropriate decision is not made.
The Driver/Get it Done personality styles tends to be more a more rapid decision maker. A driver is able to process information quite quickly, weighing the pros and cons in what seems like a matter of minutes, making a decision and then moving on. Sometimes the choices a driver makes may cause some adverse consequences but their ability to process information in a rapid manner, allows them to see the possible pitfalls to a decision and they have a great ability to come up with solutions very quickly if things start going south.
Then there are the folks who are the Consensus/want everyone to be happy people. They are not comfortable in making choices on their own and will seek to get a group to agree upon the best route to follow. It is not because they are unsure of themselves but it is more about the fact that do not want to create (or deal with) potential conflict with others. To create consensus takes time so folks who fall into this type of style will not be making decisions in rapid fashion.
Then there are people like me… the Intuitive/Impulsive types. We may quickly look at the facts to see if anything dramatic jumps out at us but if nothing is obvious, we do not dig deep or look under rocks to see if there is something that would change our minds. The risk for my type of style is that unintended consequences could occur because a decision was made too rapidly without fully vetting the potential pitfalls that could arise from a decision.
So which style is best? Which style carries with it the least amount of risk? The answer is all of the above. Each style has it positive aspects – an analytical will make sure that they have all of the answers, a driver will get things done, a person who wants everyone to be happy will benefit from the old adage Two heads are better than one, and the intuitive people will move quickly and bring an energized approach. All very positive strengths…
However, what are our strengths can also stop us at times. An analytical can go through analysis paralysis, never making a timely decision. The driver can create chaos by jumping in, making rapid-fire decision and then jump out of the fray as they move onto the next thing. Consensus builders may never find consensus, thus not getting any decisions made. Last but certainly not least, the intuitive/impulsive people such as myself may move too fast and end up having to back pedal to correct something that may have not gone as smoothly as hoped.
How can we have the best of all styles? Surround yourself with people who have differing styles and who you know will be honest with you. Just this past week, I made a pretty big decision regarding a choice I wanted to make in my life. Before I finalized my decision, I sought out two people to discuss it with, both of who tend to be more on the thinker spectrum and are not impulsive or reactive in their thought processing. I felt much more at ease with my choice, knowing that both of these people were supportive in my decision.
What is your personality/behavioral style? How do you balance out your style?