OK, I admit it. I created that title just to get you to read this article. The amount of anxiety that goes into most decisions is ridiculous. Further, the amount of time people spend making decisions, even the most trivial ones, is a life-wasting shame. See your typical company meeting for endless examples of how to torture people with trivial decision making.
I watch in amazement as some of my friends stew over what to select from the absurdly long lunch menu at a restaurant. They are afraid they aren’t going to make the “ideal” choice. Later in the evening when you are remembering the wonderful lunch you had with your friends, do you have serious regret over what you ordered? If you do, I suggest you get a life; you missed the point of the lunch.
In a very real sense you shouldn’t ever live with the consequences of your decisions. Because if you do, it means you have stopped living and started existing. Any one decision is just a step on your path and no matter where it led you, you can take another step. If you don’t like the previous step take one in a different direction next time. It really is as simple as that.
Here is my bottom line on making decisions. If the decision seems easy you already know the answer. If the decision seems difficult that’s an indication that it is too complicated for you to figure it out in advance anyway. In that case all you are doing is guessing, so just make a choice and move on and you can see what happens. Very few people really accept that, but it is my opinion and I’m sticking with it.
The most profound idea I have ever heard about decision making was the following by Michael Neill. If you can truly understand this, then your life will be a lot easier and better. I suggest you reflect deeply on it.
What you decide will never impact your life as much as how you handle the consequences of that decision.
Six Things to Keep in Mind About Decision Making
- Accept that there is no right or wrong decision. There are only choices and the consequences of those choices. The consequences are neither good or bad, they simply are. My favorite article that goes deeper into this is my own You Cannot Choose the Wrong Path.
- Get comfortable with the fact that you cannot possibly know in advance what’s going to happen; life is too damn complicated. Get over yourself. You are not perfect and life is not a mathematical equation you can solve. Just choose something and go. If you still don’t get this reread the yellow box above.
- Treat decisions as experiments. If you don’t like the outcome conduct your next experiment. What a wonderful way to navigate through life!
- Flip a coin and accept the result. However, if you find yourself hoping it comes out one way, you already have your answer and don’t need to flip. If, after seeing the result, you wish it had come out differently, you also have your answer.
- After letting a decision percolate while you are doing something else, go with your gut feeling. Your subconscious mind figured it out for you.
- In the end do what you want to do. What a mind-blowing concept
What do YOU think? Leave a comment and join the conversation.
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