We make decisions every day. Small ones, big ones. Decisions ranging from what to wear to who to spend our time with and how much effort to put in at work. There is a crazy statistic that each day an adult makes about 3,000 decisions every day. Researchers at Cornell have found that people make an average of 226.7 decisions about food alone. How crazy is that!
Whilst the decisions can vary in terms of the consequences associated with them, they all have something in common. With every decision we can and often ask ourselves “what if we chose the other thing?”.
How to be happier with the decisions we make
There’s a simple key to ensure that we’re happier with the choices we’re making, and this is to ignore all options. The etymology of the verb “decide” comes from the Latin “decidere”, literally meaning to “cut off”. It is vital that you remind yourselves of this every time you make a decision. It’s easy to slip into thinking what it could have been if we were to choose that other thing. The truth is though, that we haven’t chosen it. This means that the time and energy we would spend on those thoughts are not productive. Those thoughts can, in fact, be detrimental. Instead of enjoying the decisions we make and focusing on the positive, we might end up focusing on the negative, i.e. what we think we might have missed out on. What you need to realise is that because you’ve made a specific choice, there’s no way for you to be certain of what could have happened. We can only fantasise about what it could have been. As Kyle Cease said in one of his videos “people like to create imaginary problems and to then solve them to make their egos feel better”. If you have a few spare minutes I encourage you to watch Kyle’s video. It’s funny, engaging, and .. true.
How to make better decisions
How to make better decisions? That’s actually a misleading one. A decision is as good as you make it to be. How could a decision be good, if you regret it almost as soon as you’ve made it? “But it’s the healthier/more sensible option for me”, I hear you saying. Even if that’s the case, if you’re not satisfied with it and you won’t enjoy it, you might as well not make it.
For example, let’s say you have the option to choose between an apple and a chocolate bar for a late afternoon snack. If you choose the apple, make sure you choose it because you feel like it. Try not to think about the chocolate, as you can no longer choose it. You’ve made up your mind and you need to stick to it. Similarly, if you choose the chocolate bar, make sure to indulge in it. Don’t feel any guilt, as you’ll only ruin the whole experience. There’s no point in beating yourself up because you’ve chosen the option with more calories. Maybe you need that extra energy, or you are just craving something sweet. Either way, make up your mind and go with it.
Your life is the way it is because of choices you’ve made so far. Be aware of the consequences of your decisions. At the same time, give yourself some credit – as a smart person, you wouldn’t have made such a bad decision, would you? Like with the previous example, if you’ve decided to pick the chocolate bar, then so be it. You’ve weighed the options and have took that decision.
A main characteristic of successful and people who can deal with stress better is that they make a choice and stick with it. Successful people know that it takes time and energy to make the decision in the first place and so they wouldn’t waste their time on thinking about the options they didn’t choose, once the final decision is made. That’s just not viable.
The steps to reduce the self-imposed stress based on the decisions you make are:
- Consider the options.
- Make a decision.
- Cut the options and move on.
Give this method a go and I bet you’ll be surprised by how much easier and satisfying decision making will become.