Importance of Decision Making

I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure

How did we arrive at our present circumstances in life? What caused us to become what we are today? Oh, we might have been nudged along by our genetic code, pressed on by our natural inclinations, pressured by our peers, influenced by our environment, and driven by psychological impulses, but none of these forces created us; they merely added color and texture. The mortar we use to shape our lives is the power of decision, and the individual bricks that form the monument we have erected are the countless choices we have made.

The purpose of this article’s title is to get your attention and make you smile. But the purpose of the article is to remind you of the enormous power we have. And there are just two things we have to do to unleash that massive power. First, we need to understand that our destiny is shaped not by the circumstances that come our way, but by the decisions we make. Second, we need to act upon that understanding by making choices that improve our lives. Simple, isn’t it? If we want to change our lives, all we have to do is change our minds! If we want to improve our lives, all we have to do is improve the choices we make.

And the remarkable thing is we have the power of choice NOW. It is already in our hands. There is no need to order it and wait for it to arrive in the mail. There is no need to wade through a 700 page instruction manual. No, we already have it. We can be decisive and decide at this very moment to acknowledge that we, and no one else, are responsible for our lives. We can decide from this moment on to make only those choices that will improve our lives.

All during the day we make decisions. Sometimes we decide not to decide. The decision not to act is not necessarily the wrong one. It depends on the circumstances. On the one hand we don’t want to be rash and act on our impulses without considering the consequences of our actions, and on the other hand we don’t want to be indecisive and indefinitely refuse to act, for if we do so, we’ll remain in a rut, with no hope for the better in sight. It’s a matter of balance. And we arrive at that balance by analyzing our decisions and our motives for those decisions. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Refusing to act until we have ENOUGH information is a wise decision. But refusing to act until we have ALL the information is probably unrealistic. Many investors lost money in the market because they decided to buy without having sufficient information. But we can never be COMPLETELY certain on how the market will behave, so if we refuse to act until we have ALL the information, all we do is paralyze ourselves and make future gains impossible.

Another mistake some make is believing that there is only ONE correct answer and refusing to act unless they arrive at that answer. For example, a young man may believe there is only one woman in the world that is right for him, so he hesitates all his life, never marrying because he can never be sure his latest companion is the right one. Do you find it difficult to believe that some people are afraid there is only one answer? This belief is more common than you may imagine and exists, in part, because of the influence of religion. You see, most religions teach that there is only ONE way, and a failure to follow that one way leads to grave consequences; mainly, eternal damnation. So, it is not surprising that those who hold such beliefs conclude that there is only one way in other areas of their lives as well.

To make the largest gains, try to be decisive. That is, make decisions quickly. For the faster you act, the more time you will have to make more decisions, thereby speeding up your progress. Yet, you will want to balance speed with sufficient time to make thoughtful decisions. For if you act too quickly, you may make mistakes that slow down your progress or even bring it to a halt.

It is prudent to think before we act. Yet, if we refuse to act because we are afraid of making a mistake, we do the very thing we are afraid of because failure to act is a mistake. Failure to act is failure to seize an opportunity. Failure to act is failure to grow and improve our lives. Our task becomes easier when we accept the fact that the decision making process is risky business and we are imperfect. Mistakes are inevitable, but nothing to fear, for they will provide either valuable lessons or delightful surprises.

As I walk through the mall, I may pass a sale on shoes. The decision to buy a new pair is a good one if I need shoes, can afford to buy them, and save money in the process. But what if I’m already in debt and have more shoes than I need? Clearly, then, the actions I take are good ones if I have good reasons for acting; however, if there are no good reasons to act, I will have one good reason not to act.

Yes, we have a great deal of power at our fingertips, and we can release it by asking ourselves questions, answering them, and following through. Some of the questions are, “I know what my present situation is, but what can it be? How can I make it better? What can I do to arrive at the point I wish to be at? What are my options and what are the pros and cons of each option? What are the costs in time and energy? Am I willing to pay the price? Am I capable of making changes? Am I willing to change for the better? If so, when will I begin? Am I willing to commit myself to take action and take responsibility? Am I willing to make a plan, work the plan, monitor my progress and correct it when necessary?”

Making the decision to act is the easy part. Following through on that decision is the crucial part. Be decisive. Don’t allow the following contemptuous words of Winston Churchill (1874 ~ 1965) apply to you, “They are decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.” You are not impotent. You are important. So, claim the prize you deserve by releasing the power you have, and do it today.