I was forced to make a pretty tough decision this week.
One hour I was 100% convinced that Option A was the right decision. The next hour I was equally convinced that Option B was the way to go. I went back and forth weighing the pros and cons of both options, trying to predict what the future would look like with each choice.
After that didn’t yield the clear answer I was hoping for, I spent the next few days doing the following:
- I called my sister. I trust her decision-making, so I wanted her to decide for me. (Of course, since she’s such a good decision-maker, she decided not to make my decision for me. A good practice on her part, but sucked for me! Lol).
- I called a girlfriend; she took the same approach as my sister.
- I turned to my faithful friend, Google. I figured I’d find a discussion board or article about the topic, and let that guide my decision.
- I prayed for God to show me the right decision.
- I consulted my bookshelf, looking for a book that may provide some insight on the topic. No luck.
As hours – and then days – passed, I was having the same seesaw scene in my head. I realized that the fear of making the wrong decision had stopped me from moving forward with a decision at all. I was stuck.
In my frustration that all of the above efforts didn’t bring me any closer to a decision, I remembered a powerful statement about decision-making. I don’t remember it verbatim, but the gist was: the key to making a decision is making a decision. It sounds simple, but as my example above shows, we often get so stuck in the choosing process – the fork in the road – that we never actually choose and move forward.
Of course I get the importance of making the right life decisions (my back and forth process above shows that, lol), but I also understand 2 things:
- living life is about learning (from successes and failures), and
- living life is about living – about moving forward.
The above two philosophies support the theory that at some point in the decision-making process, deciding is key.
According to Wikipedia’s “Decision Making” page, to help us get to the point of decision, we often use some of the following techniques:
- Pros and Cons: Listing the advantages and disadvantages of each option
- Satisficing: Examining alternatives only until an acceptable one is found
- Acquiescing to a person in authority/just following orders
- Flipism: Flipping a coin (or some other random/coincidence method)
- Prayer, tarot cards, astrology, meditation, or other forms of divination
- Seeking advice from others
- Opportunity cost: calculating the opportunity cost of each option
There are a lot of theories and schools of thought on the decision-making process. And in doing some very basic research on the topic, every single theory I found always included an action step. They all suggested that no matter the method, at some point, we must get to the point of making the decision.
There are a lot of things that keep us from actually deciding. For me, it’s perfectionism. I’d rather not do anything than to do something imperfectly. For others it may be fear, outside opinions, lack of confidence, not enough information, too much information, etc. Regardless of the barricade, at some point, a decision must be made (if we want to move forward).
I am a praying person, and while I recognize that this is not everyone’s practice, I’m often praying for God’s direction. Sometimes, I hear it loud and clear. But since I believe that God has given me free will, I have come to understand that He is not in the business of living my life for me. While I’m waiting for Him to tell me exactly what to do, He’s waiting for me to use the wisdom and resources that He’s given me to do something. And, it is His promise, to be there to walk with me as (and after) I choose. Simply put, while I’m waiting on Him to move, He’s often waiting on me to move.
While I don’t advise that we act in haste, I do advise that we act. We will never know every single “right” thing to do in life. Life is composed of the decisions we make, and the corresponding results. And if we make the “wrong” decision, we trust that there is a lesson, a chance to alter our decision, and/or the option to make a better decision next time.
Yes, you must count the cost, use wisdom, weigh the odds, be objective, know your options, have clear expectations, and be prepared for consequences. But sometimes you’ll never know the right decision until you decide. And often times, there is no right or wrong decision at all, there is simply a decision that is best (or not best) for us.
They say that hindsight is always 20/20; “hindsight” literally means looking back. We can’t look back on something that we’re still sitting in. So make a decision and move forward. We don’t know what will happen in life until we live it.
Remember: “even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.” (-Will Rogers)
I’ll leave you with this song, from one of my all-time favorite artists. It came to mind this week and was very helpful as I was trying to decide which road to choose: