Quarantine Series · Self-Care

HALT: 4 Steps in Decision Making During the Pandemic

Last December, my husband and I were about to buy a house. It was a neighborhood that we like, and the house was just the right size for us. It even had black swans on the lake and an angel in the pocket garden.

The cost of renting in Southern California is so ridiculous that buying a house seemed like the smart thing to do.

The lake in the complex had black swans from Australia

But we were also getting ready for our Christmas trip, to the Philippines – on top of my holiday work parties, buying and dropping off gifts to clients and everything that comes with the craziness of December.

The pressure and anxiety were building up. The broker was calling us non stop and was trying to rush the deal. We wanted to get the house and looking at all the factors, logic was telling us it was the right thing to do. But something was not right, I did not have peace. There was a nagging feeling that won’t go away.


So I told my husband to halt all the discussion with our broker. We were overwhelmed, overscheduled and overdoing things. I realized we were tired.

I just wanted to enjoy the season, which was time with our family. We can resume when things are not so hectic. Then suddenly, I felt peace.

Fast forward April 2020. A few days ago, our broker called and told us that the house is still for sale, less $320,000. When the pandemic happened and the mortgage industry is on the brink of collapse, my husband and I breathe a sigh of relief that we didn’t buy that house. We would have lost a lot of money.


In this cut-throat world, the ability to make swift decisive decisions is considered a strength.

An executive mentor told me, once, that I need to learn how to make decisions without all the facts.

Decisions will be made in the next 4-6 months. Some will change careers and close businesses. Some people will move to more affordable locations. Some will hold off on buying a house. How do we make major decisions when we do not have all the facts?

  1. We should trust our instinct. What do you do when you have all the right reasons and yet don’t have peace? More than clarity in our facts, when making decisions, it is more important to have peace.
  2. We should not give in to pressure, even from those who mean well. Walk at your own pace.
  3. Remember priorities. The clarity in our priorities saved us. Time with family comes before anything. It may not be the best financial decision, because we lost what we thought was a good deal.
  4. HALT. When I told my husband to ” halt discussions”, I didn’t know that “HALT” is an acronym used for decision making or impulse control.
  • HUNGRY. Don’t make decisions on an empty stomach.
  • ANGRY. Anger leads to impulsive decision making – most of the time, wrong decision.
  • LONELY. Because we want to escape loneliness, we make desperate decisions.
  • TIRED. When we lack sleep and we are overwhelmed, we rush decisions. When we are exhausted, we make lazy decisions.  

Last December, we were so tired. It was not the best time to make big investment decision.

These days, most of us are facing major decisions. Millions have lost their jobs, and those who still have theirs still feel threatened. Life will not go back to what it was. We all know that. Even when this quarantine is lifted, things will not be okay- not immediately, at least.

If you are facing a big decision, remember, we are at this point all, tired, lonely and angry. A recipe for wrong decisions.

A big career change. Pause

A major investment. Pause

Big relationship decisions. Pause

Sometimes, when we are lost on what to do, the best thing is to take a walk, watch Netflix, eat that bowl of pasta, chat with a friend and get some sleep.

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