Make Peace With Your Decisions

“There is no more miserable person than the one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.” William James

Life is a series of seemingly unimportant decisions, many of them small, inconsequential and quickly made. We put little thought into most of them and many of them truly have little impact on our lives.

Or do they?

When we add up the small decisions of our life it turns out that cumulatively they make a real difference in our life. And we make many of them without regard to the long-term effects they will have on us.

So much of the “luck” attributed to successful people comes from sound, long-term decision making. Bob Hope, the great American comedian always told people that he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He also was always quick to add “of course, I steered myself there.” 

He steered himself there with great decisions. He had what I like to call “judgcernment,” that rare combination of great judgment and equally great discernment. He knew his decisions mattered…always.

If you want a better life I’d suggest you make better decisions. It really does come down to that simply fact. Consider the implications of your daily choices; the people you associate with, the words you use, the clothes you wear and many other decisions. 

I’m not here to say what the right decisions are, I just want you to know that almost every choice has an impact on you life.

Goals are essential for solid decision making; without knowing what you want out of life it will be nearly impossible to get it. Your goals, just like your decisions don’t need to be set in stone. Your core values must be rock solid but you can adjust your goals and change your decisions to match as often as you like.

Only a fool never changes their mind. Circumstances change and so does a healthy mind.

Many decisions lead to change and whether we realize it or not there is loss associated with almost all change, even good change. Most people fear or dislike change and the bigger the change, or the bigger the decision the bigger the fear. Fear stalls more decision making than any other single thing.

Ben Franklin was a legendary decision maker. He often shared his method for making big decisions with those who asked for his advice. He said that “all reasons pro and con are not present to the mind at the same time….”

Then he would share this method: 

My way is to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns; writing over the one Pro and over the other Con. Then during three or four days’ consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives, that at different times occur to me, for or against the measure. When I have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavor to estimate their respective weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I judge some two reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out five; and thus proceeding, I find where the balance lies; and if after a day or two of further consideration, nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly.” –Benjamin Franklin

It’s a simple method but it works. The next time you are struggling with a big decision I’d suggest you try Ben’s idea.

You will have a great decision and you’ll have peace of mind to go along with it.

5 thoughts on “Make Peace With Your Decisions

  1. Different behavior styles make decisions differently. Some don’t care for small talk or too much information. They go with their gut and decide quickly. Others like to talk it out. Another behavioral type likes to take their time. In fact, the more time the better. Last, another type wants lots of info before pulling the string. Analyze the scenario eight ways to Sunday.

    My Uncle, the golf pro, tried to encourage a simple swing for his students. “Too many swing thoughts breeds analysis paralysis.”

    Good post as always Steve. All common sense. People rarely use it.

    • Great comment Steve. I like lots of facts but once I’m satisfied I have the needed info I pull the trigger quickly.

      I’m also the type who gets frustrated with those who refuse the risk of deciding anything (hence the blog post) and believe that no decision is about the most expensive decision you can make.

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