Writing my last post about how I became a vegetarian left me thinking about how some decisions lead to positive outcomes, while some lead to not so positive ones. In any case, I thought a lot about the recent decisions that I have had to make. I must say that there have been quite a few, and are many yet to come. I personally think that decision-making is one of the most difficult tasks that we are required to handle on a regular basis.
I wanted to talk a little about the subject because I believe that making the right choices and decisions in life is crucial to becoming a happy person. There may be various times when an important decision should be made, such as when choosing the correct path in your studies, getting into a new relationship, finding new work, moving abroad, starting a business, changing religion, selling a house, and thousands of others. The problem is that almost none of us like changes, especially when they cause difficulties. We are human and by nature seek happiness, which means that we will try to avoid situations that make us feel uncomfortable, or simply – bad. The funny thing is that when we have in front of us an opportunity that we know would make us happier, we spend no time making the decision towards it. We simply go for it. The process of making the decision is actually not there. Therefore, with a good amount of confidence it can be said that decision-making usually carries a negative or a complicated flavor to it. And while we are so skilful with giving advice and tips regarding decision-making to others, we become vulnerable and lost when it is our turn to make the choice. Despite the fact that we would feel so safe and so much better if someone else could just take all the responsibility and make the decision for us, we clearly understand that it is us that have to go for the life-changing decision. Our friends, loved ones and relatives can be good to talk to and seek reassurance from, however, we are the ones to determine the final outcome.
The biggest problem with making the right decision is our fear. It is always our fear that is on the way of everything pleasant. Life would be so much easier if we wouldn’t fear things, right? Unfortunately, fear exists and exists for a reason. In this case, however, we must learn to overcome it.
I don’t know about you, but I have been so many times in a situation where I knew that a certain change would be beneficial for me, but when the time came to make the decision, I got extremely worried and stressed out about it. I began to see all these reasons in the world why not to go for the new opportunity. It’s almost hysterical how the feeling comes every single time when something big is about to change in my life. Can you relate to that?
The good news is that there are ways to overcome this fear. The first step is to understand the root cause of it.
- Fear of changes
The most common feeling of fear is the one that comes from the fear of changes. Look at it like this: you are living a mediocre life and doing mediocre things, you are not too happy, but at least you either have a place to live in, a job, or you are in a relationship that is beneficial for the both of you. Suddenly, you know that something is about to change and it will never be the same again. Maybe you are moving to a new country and you fear that you will not find any new friends, or you simply won’t like it there. There will be a thousand reasons, and all of them will be screaming at you – “don’t do it”!
Another major problem with fear is that it is awfully convincing. Think about it, is there a slightest chance that things wont work out the way you want them to? Of course there are! However, should you be convinced that they won’t work out before they actually occur? Of course you shouldn’t!
- Point of no return
The other fear that is very common is the fear of not being able to return back to the initial state. To be honest, unless you are going for a bank robbery or jumping from the 10th floor, you should be able to return back to the point where you started from. Many of us think that sometimes it is impossible to return back after making a certain decision. That may be true in some cases, but I have also noticed that people just say that because it is more convenient to think like that in order not to make the decision. To be honest, in many cases, if you would really wish to, you’d probably be able to return. I mean, why not? If you have a family that you can’t be dragging around back and forth, I would agree with you, but if that is the case, then you should be making the decisions together in the first place. That’s what families are for.
- Public acceptance
A little more rare than the previous, but still an extremely common cause for a missed opportunity. Not being accepted by family, loved ones, friends or the public in general can often be very difficult to overcome. Relations may be drowned forever in this case. However, if you are absolutely sure that you are making the right decision, I say do it in any case. Do not ever let anyone stop you from reaching your goals. Never do or not do something crucially important to your life just because someone has a different opinion of it. In the end it is your life and you are the one to live it. No one should be able to tell you what is better for you. Please understand that if something goes wrong with what you have decided to do, you will know that it is you who is accountable for the mistake and will (or should) learn a lesson from it. It is a thousand times worse if something goes wrong because someone else had influenced you to make the wrong decision. In this case you will probably be angered at the person and be pointing fingers. This is never a good scenario. It is you who should always be responsible for your actions.
As a little training, I suggest you do the following. Take something that you really don’t like doing, and do it! Get out of your comfort zone and do the things you hate or are scared of doing. This will teach you to be more open to new and unexpected situations. I remember I was extremely nervous when making presentations. I had even listened to a self-hypnosis tape regarding the topic (with no luck). Long story short, I began to take part in as many presentations as possible. I even prepared by rehearsing the presentations in front of other people, which is already in itself like making a small presentation, and it causes anxiety too! This helped me tremendously, and although I still am not the best public speaker, I don’t feel my legs shivering and I don’t feel like fainting when about to speak to the public. I say, pick your fear and master it. Make it something that you will be proud of enough to want others to see.
Identifying the pros and cons of the decision
The first thing that you have to think about when identifying the pros and cons of making a certain decision is its permanence. Is the decision that you are going to make something that will influence the rest of your life, or is it something for a limited time only? Once again, you can think of it like this – is it really going to determine the rest of my life and be irreversible? If you are honest with yourself, you will come to a realization that many of the things that we perceive as difficult to handle are actually not that serious. Many of the decisions you make will influence you only to an extent or for a certain period of time. For example, the act of buying a car may cause a lot of questions: What car to get? What brand and what color? Do I really need it? How will I pay the insurance and petrol costs? What will I do if I crash the car and be required to pay the damage done to the other vehicle? Of course, all of these questions can be answered in a rather objective way through estimations, but the point to remember is that you can always sell the car. You will in this case lose some money, but it is nothing that cannot be overcome.
- Past experience
Past experience is something that is also very crucial in decision-making. You have probably heard of people saying that they know more because they have lived longer. So basically, with age comes experience and wisdom. And while that is true in many cases, certain experiences may lead to biased opinions. For example, I have had many negative experiences with relationships and with getting a new job. Surely, they have taught me a lot and I now know what to watch out for in a relationship or when signing a new contract with an employer. However, it just happens to be so that these experiences are part of my life. This does not automatically guarantee that the same outcome may occur in someone else’s life. Therefore, once again, listen to your own heart, think about the times when you were in the same or similar situation, and make the decision based on that. Obviously, don’t close off all new opportunities just because you have had a bad experience in the past, but do have it in mind. This way your decision-making process can actually be based on something empirical, and not just the gut.
- Trusting your gut
Despite being very abstract and non-quantifiable, listening and trusting your gut is often the best approach. As a matter of fact, many important decisions in business are made this way when no other logical solution is available. Risk-taking is also all about listening to the gut. Have in mind that most successful people are different from the majority, and they have achieved this by doing things outside of the common. They engage in innovative actions that take them onto a whole different level from the majority of people, and they have often used illogical decision-making patterns to arrive there. In other words, they listened to their gut. Once again, I have had a really good job opportunity that was once offered to me, but something about it just did not feel right. Today I am glad I did not go that road.
- Future benefit
One way to be very pragmatic about something is to always look at the future benefits. For example, you may be starting a business, and you may have a lot of concerns. However, you have done your research well (which you must do) and have decided that although this will drain a lot of your time, effort and money now, it will all pay off in the future. You and your family will live a better life. Obviously, the only decision left is to go for it, to take action! On the other hand, if you have measured all the pros and cons, and you see the pros just slightly outweighing the cons, while simultaneously adding plenty of risk, maybe it isn’t too smart to go for it in this case.
- Giving it time
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you will not allow the decision to be made, or it just seems as if there is no answer to this question at the moment. Worry no further. Give it time, and the correct decision will always find you. Based on personal experience, time has always been the best treatment and the best judge. It will always help you out if you choose to wait for it.
Going for it!
Once you have finalized your decision or choice, and are ready to go for it, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Be confident
If you have decided on something life-changing, be confident! Take action on it and don’t let anything get in your way. Be as confident as possible about the fact that the decision that you have made was the right thing to do, and that no better solution to the problem exists. Remember, even though something has already been decided on, it doesn’t automatically mean that it will or will not work out. The decision is only the first step. After that, the actual work comes in. If you have decided to grow, evolve & develop, do everything possible to reach your goals. Work as hard as you can on it as much as you can, and the results will follow, I can guarantee that! 😉
- Seeking even more benefit
One thing that many of us forget about is the fact that every little beneficial act can become even more beneficial. As you go along the newly made decision, seek new ways to make the process even better, more enjoyable, more fulfilling, and more beneficial to you and those around you. Never stop seeking for improvement. If you have decided to quit drinking or smoking, and the process has already begun, enjoy it as you go. Many people become miserable thinking about all the things that they lack without their fix once they have become fix-free. You on the other hand will enjoy every moment of the new decision that you have made. You will see all the new opportunities opening up in front of your eyes.
- Being optimistic
Optimism is something that I cannot stress enough. By nature, I am an optimistic person, so it comes easy for me. However, many people have serious issues with seeing the good. I personally get turned off extremely fast by people who are negative or pessimistic. There is nothing worse than talking to a person that sees only the “bad” in everything. If you see yourself as being a pessimist, then I strongly recommend you to begin thinking positively, or at least neutrally. Nothing good will ever come out of your decision-making if you are thinking negatively. And in the case that something does start out well, you will quickly ruin it and your happiness with the negativity that is in you. Bad things don’t choose to happen to certain people more than to others. It is us that attract it. So please, do yourself a favor, forget about the “bad” things happening to you, and aim only for the good! Only this way you can accept the good around you and not be blind. And if something does go wrong, you will see a valuable lesson in it, and will be quicker back up on your feet in making a new attempt, than if you were negatively charged.
In conclusion I want to say that making the right decision can be a painful process if you choose it to be so. However, if you look at it from a positive perspective, if you weigh out all the pros and cons, if you take into account past experience, if you think about the benefits that you or your family can extract from it, and finally, if you become determined and are willing to put all the effort into your freshly made decision, you will see positive results flood in sooner or later. It is only a matter of time. Just as the saying goes, “you reap what you sow” or “what comes around goes around”.
Finally, be optimistic about every single decision that you make. Only by being optimistic you will have the will to keep going no matter what, despite things going not the way you intended them. If you have a problem with taking action or being optimistic, I suggest you to watch the Jim Carrey movie called “Yes Man”. I think the movie has a very valid point that many of us have troubles realising.
I hope you have gotten some value out of this post, and if you did, please let me know. Also, let me know about how you make decisions, and the interesting experiences that you’ve encountered. I would be more than happy to hear from you and discuss them further with you. Thank you for being with me. May your decisions bring you closer to your goals.