4 min read

on choices and decisions

I remember, as teenagers, we used to rejoice at the idea of having multiple choice questions in school tests. In those questions, one of the given options was the correct answer. All we had to do was simply mark it. Piece of cake, right?

Well, this supposedly sweet lil’ piece of cake only revealed its bitterness when, later on, we got our results with marks shouting out loud, ‘You picked up the wrong choices, you Brainiac!

So here we are, years later, with a completely changed opinion – at least I am. I am now quite convinced that choices do not make things easier. On the contrary, they come coupled with great responsibility of making the right decisions. And as you grow older, the choices, respective decisions, and resulting consequences become much graver than an innocent piece of paper mocking you with your test marks – relationships end, bank balances plummet and companies disappear.

Taking us on an intense ride with this, are you?

Well not really, my friend. In fact, am just trying out an attempt to make it easier for both of us by making sense of it. But, you know what? It all starts with this daring act of facing your own self and sincerely saying, ‘You, my friend, are flawed and that’s perfectly alright.

We miscalculate and yes, we take wrong decisions. That too, more than once. And guess what? These decisions come in all shapes and sizes. From the size of that last shirt I bought, to the way I last spoke to mom, to going for a costly phone, to not showing up for a meet up, to letting lose of my diet routine, to putting all energies on the wrong project and the list literally goes on and on...

And congrats, you just won the Greatest Liar of the Century award by denying that you have a similar list. You, as a fellow flawed human, are destined to have one.

So you mean, I am bound to regret everything I do?

Now you see, that is entirely your own choice. Google can help you find dozens of (good) lists which focus on how you can make a right decision, one which you never regret later on. But, honestly, it all really comes down to you in the end.

From all such lists that I’ve read on the topic, none ended up being a perfect one-stop solution. I was (always) already using some (if not all) pointers from each list and that is how it is supposed to be. We all already have our very own, personal, decision making process in place. And like it or not, we always follow that process. Believe it or not, this is how it works – no matter how many suggestions we take; regardless of how many articles we read. If my personal process lights up green on something, you bet I am going to go for it. In case of red, it will (most definitely) be a no no.

Okay, so what’s the fuss all about if it is that simple?

Hmm…there’s this minute little detail which makes this straight forward idea a tiny bit complex: this personal process of decision making evolves with us. Yes, it changes over time and has the capacity to improve at recognizing available choices and making better decisions based on our person in that particular time.

Yes, I know, that sounds even better – our decisions are driven by an internal, signature process which improves with time. What else can I ask for? Viola! Well, not really. What makes it complex is that it isn’t as autonomous as it sounds. It, in fact, puts more responsibility on us as individuals to shape it. Lost? Let me explain by taking you back to our teenage selves again.

The multiple choice questions we used to get in our tests were taken from a course that we had studied. Right? Right. So, if you had studied and revisited the course properly before taking the test, you would have been in a better position to mark the correct choices. This is how we positively evolve our decision making process – by revisiting the available relevant information before deciding on the choices. Although more work but this definitely sounds better than regretting your decision later on. Doesn’t it? And that is exactly where the responsibility lies – we diligently need to do our homework before jumping on to conclusions, before committing ourselves to a choice.

Aren’t so flawed and hopeless after all then. Or are we?

Not at all, my friend. Not at all. We have no reason to fret or to crumble under the pressure of our unintentional wrong doings. We have the tendency of making mistakes and this fact is not going to change. Why fight it then? Flawed, agreed, we are, but not incapable of learning from our mistakes. We just need to understand our own selves better in a given situation and evaluate all the possible paths carefully, in as much details as we can.

Just do not make a hastened call – give it time, wait for it, talk to your self, talk to your friends, talk to the ones who may have relevant knowledge, map out the possible outcomes – particularly the negative ones, try and recall what happened last time you were faced with a similar situation, see if you’ll be able to support your choice in the longer term, and most important of all, keep a constant check on your gut feeling.

Oh and, once you’ve made a call, do not feel bad about it. Remember, it is our own optimism and confidence that makes our choices work for us. You, my dear reader, have all rights to make your choices and decide! After all, we get only one shot at life – why waste it in holding back or regretting?

Happy living!