Decisions, decisions!

When faced with a big decision, sometimes it’s immediately clear what to do. Other times, I get caught in a maze of thoughts, feelings, and second-guessing. Not surprisingly, these times involve the sort of tough decisions that can go along with a major life change. In fact they’re the kinds of changes and big decisions which can lead people to contact me for coaching.

Gathering external information certainly helps with decision-making, but sometimes that kind of information isn’t enough. Even with a clear idea of pros and cons, risks and rewards, I still feel as though we’re caught in the decision-making maze. And there are times when there is only limited outside information available. Here’s a tool that can be helpful when that kind information alone doesn’t help us find our way out of the maze.

I use this “Six Channels” tool to find the internal wisdom that can guide me through the maze of making tough decisions. My clients also have found it useful in that way. Developed by Carol McLelland, it invites us to recognize our “go signals,” or the signs that we are drawn to something. It also helps us notice the “stop signals,” those red flags that often turn out to be important warnings. We all can use the “Six Channels”  to identify what is aligned with our true selves, our most dearly held values and those things that bring us the deepest enjoyment and sense of purpose.

Here are the six channels, along with questions to help you recognize the messages the channels are broadcasting to you.

Physical – How does your body feel or respond? (ie, sluggish, energetic, tense, relaxed)

Emotional – How do you feel? (ie, sad, joyful, excited, apprehensive)

Mental – What is happening with your thinking? (ie thoughts are more clear, more muddled, more organized, more confused)

Intuitive – What is your gut feeling? (ie I should go for this! Or – I sense red flags! Or – I was born for this. Or- This is all wrong for me.)

Behavioral – Are you behaving differently? (ie, calmer, more agitated, clumsier, more coordinated)

Vocal – Does your voice change? (ie speaking faster, slower, more loudly, quieter, sound confident, sound hesitant).

Try it out!

  1. First, practice using these six channels by looking at or thinking of something we are drawn to. Then use it, looking at or thinking of something we are repelled by. Use what you discover to help you recognize what you’re drawn to or repelled by in the decision that you faced with.
  2. Next, hold your question or decision in mind.
  3. Use channel, and the associated question to help you find its message. You can do this by writing, doodling or creating an image to represent your response. No worries if there is no message from one or more of the channels – that can happen and it’s not a problem.
  4. Or, try using Alicia Anderson’s creative idea: Use your smartphone to make a brief recording of yourself discussing the options before you. Then watch the video, noticing the information being sent to you via each of these six channels.

Exploring these channels alone may not immediately reveal the way out of the maze, but they likely will reveal important information and questions to further look into. You may need to consider other factors, as well, or dig down to discover what lies beneath the message a particular channel is sending you. That’s when consulting someone else might be a big help.

I’d love to hear from you with any thoughts, questions or discoveries about using these six information channels.


McLelland, C.L. (1998). The Seasons of Change: Using Nature’s Wisdom to Grow Through Life’s Ups and Downs. York Beach, ME: Conari Press.

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