An approach to decision making.


We are all faced with making decisions every day of our lives.  The lion’s share of the choices we make have little impact, other than the stress they cause us when we’re in the midst of deciding which way to go.

Our choices are determined by all sorts of external factors.  For example, if we go grocery shopping, we’re faced with price differences often weighed against quality options. The options we take often depend on what we can or cannot afford.  Quality is not always a significant part of our decision, but if we’re choosing laundry detergent, we want a product we know we can depend on to thoroughly clean our clothes.  Sometimes there are so many choices, we give up and just grab whatever looks reasonable.  I generally try to stay with the same products I have purchased in the past, but I find that there always seem to be new and improved versions with different packaging, added fragrances and so on.  Maybe it’s my imagination, but grocery shopping used to be simpler.

As much as I’d like to remove myself from the stress of grocery shopping, I find that if I don’t do it myself, I’m just not always happy with the choices someone else makes for me.  When I buy catsup, I know what brand I like.  I don’t care as much about the price as I do about the quality of the condiment.

As I said earlier, most of these decisions make little difference in the scheme of life.  More important decisions can really put pressure on an individual, especially when it comes to big ticket items or the performance of the items we purchase.

Major life decisions are always difficult.  High school students have to look ahead to the future and make a choice as to what might be a good way to make a living.  These days we know that people change directions sometimes.  We have learned that we have the ability to “reinvent” ourselves.  I’m not talking about a new image but rather something much more practical that will serve our needs and those of the people who depend on us either financially or in other ways.

We are often drawn to do what we think will find the approval of others.  While it’s sensible to look ahead with an eye towards what others might think, I have learned that the most important person to please is me.  If I cannot justify my decisions, certainly no one else will do it for me. Others may or may not understand my choice or why I have taken a particular direction, but my decisions will most significantly affect me.  Only I know all of the factors that need consideration to make decisions I’m going to have to live with.  If someone is disappointed with my choice, so be it.

Young people are forced into really difficult life decisions which are often in conflict with what their parents might choose.  Of course, young people need to listen to the guidance their parents offer, but the final decision really has to be something they feel is right for them. Most of us resent being forced into decisions that don’t really reflect our own wishes.   Sometimes, we learn that our elders might have been right, but it’s this sort of lesson we must learn for ourselves.  It is also clear that avoiding decisions is a choice with consequence.  Inaction has its own result.

Finally, it was Oscar Wilde who said: “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”