Making a decision can be compared to painting a picture. The painter begins with an idea of what he hopes to create on the canvas. If he paints something he doesn’t like, more is involved than simply starting over again. He has already committed his time, energies, paint and canvas to the effort.
In the absence of guaranteed outcomes, many of us decide never to commit our resources. Consequently, our chances of painting satisfactory pictures of our lives are practically nil.
What about those nagging little decisions that hang us up, in which the outcome hardly seems worth the time and energy spent deciding? Why do we have such a difficult, frustrating time with day-to-day choices: which dress to buy, whom to invite to the party, what to have for dinner, how to handle a phone request, where to spend the weekend?
While it might be argued that all of these choices could be very important under special conditions, normally they are not. And yet we agonize over them. These little decisions do have all the elements of a major decision, but they are different in one major respect: they are not critical enough to call for a long and involved decision-making process. In the absence of any process, however, these little decisions can become a hit-or-miss exercise, almost like flipping a coin, which doesn’t convince the decider of the effectiveness of her choice. People in decision-making seminars sometimes declare that they prefer more difficult choices; because they can be more thorough and consequently more confident in the action they take.
But little decisions actually provide an excellent opportunity for you to learn about yourself and about what is involve in a choice. A nagging minor problem may be telling you something about what is important to you or may be related to a major issue in your life. The struggle over buying a dress may relate to anxiety about your appearance and what others think about it. You debate over party invitations may show a concern about the quality of some friendships, or about your lack of self-confidence socially. So a good beginning point for dealing with the little decision is try to identify the source of irritation. You might ask yourself why it is so difficult.
Don’t get hung up on results. Even a good decision can yield poor results, and the best decision-makers can come up with very unsatisfactory outcomes. Instead of wasting your time on regret, try to determine what went wrong in your choice. Think about how you made the decision, how you applied the decision making process so that the results will be better next time.
Your decision is a definition of yourself. Try to be more than what you are at the moment. Try hard to set the ceiling you want on life and know that your expectations for yourself need to be clarified before a decision is possible.
- Adapted from articles on Decisions