HOW TO: Make Decisions

The other day I was leaving church when I heard a man talking with two elderly women, no doubt members of some generous guild. As I walked by, I heard the man say seriously, “We’re going to need to make some decisions in December…” Now, I had no idea what decisions the threesome were speaking of, but I tell you ladies: I cringed at that solemnity and scurried away as fast as would be socially acceptable.

What is it about decision making that makes us squirm? I happen to be currently apartment-searching in the Los Angeles area, and no prayer is more frequently uttered than, “God, PLEASE just choose one for me!” I like closure and am quick to make judgments with research and good logic. But deciding is ultimately…risky.

Here are some problems I’ve pinpointed, let me know if you agree or have anything else to add.

  • We don’t know what we want. We float in comfort until something is ruffled and then we spend our energy putting it back the way it was. But was it really our first choice to begin with? What if something better is waiting? Making decisions means taking a gamble and investing in our own desires and needs. Take this house search, for instance… I need to know my budget, my preferred appliances, my parking situation, my safety boundaries, etc. I need to know what I’m looking for to be fully satisfied and have peace.

  • There are too many choices. Have you ever tried looking for a good salad dressing? How about a simple condiment or pasta sauce? It’s a nightmare because one has better ingredients but the other has less fat, and another one is on sale but only with the purchase of three. I’ve been known to spend a solid 10-15 minutes comparing labels and calculating prices for something I could probably make at home. In our western consumer and convenience culture we want to accommodate everyone’s tastes, beliefs, allergies, and preferences. This is a noble task but man was created for a much higher dignity than worrying about his/her tortilla chip choice. Discernment can only reach so far.

  • We don’t “Just do it.” Thank you, Nike, for this tagline that fits so well with decision-making strategies. In a recent article I read about starting a business, the author advocated less time researching and more time creating. Daydreams are nice, but they stay fantasy until goals and choices are made. You are the only person who is going to live your life. Need some help visualizing? The next time you are in traffic, look to your left and right. Will you have anything to do in the realization of those persons’ dreams? Probably not. So who’s going to realize yours?

  • We’re scared of making the wrong choice. Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’m afraid of making mistakes. 100% honesty. I’m a recovering perfectionist…I’ve been in self-employed recovery since 6th grade when I used to rewrite my class notes when I got home. My mom staged an intervention, and I’ve been working on letting go of my self-imposed responsibility for saving the world and ironing out all the imperfections. You WILL make mistakes. The key is to learn from them and move forward, which takes courage. But see #3…it must be done!