How to Make the Right Decision

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros

Are you lingering over the thought of ‘what if’ and ‘what could it be’? Are you having the occasional feeling of guilt regarding decisions that you already made while you are going forward with your decision regardless? Stop.

Our path in life is not pre-designed. Is just as contoured as our thoughts. There are two things that will take us where we want to go:

  1. Know where you’re going
  2. Stick to the plan

There are times when two paths can lead to the same destination. Each road we take is a new experience – different landscape, different people that we’ll bump into, different constructs. Would we go down a road half way through and then drive around to take the other street because we’re very curious of what’s the other option like? Unlikely. But if you’re feeling is so strong that give you the power of going through with the change, do it. Otherwise pack it and dispose of it together with all the other possibilities of how your life could have been.

And remember, there is no right decision, there is just the obvious decision given the time and circumstances you live in.

Designing Your Environment to Make Good Decisions Obvious

We often think – ‘Why did I make that choice?’ which even seconds after felt wrong. Habits are reinforced pathways between neurons that need time to level up with other unwalked territory. What this means is that by the time you can make a ‘real’ decision in that the decision is minimally influenced by previous action you need to make your choices obvious.

Do you want to replace unhealthy snacks with fruits? Don’t buy snacks in the first place or if you do buy them – give them away or simply bin them. Are sugary drinks a challenge for you? Make water the obvious choice. You want to reduce the time you spend on your phone? Put the phone away from your visual field and silence it.

These are not superhuman techniques, but they do give us a superhuman power: the power to trade repetitive unhealthy but comfortable decisions by making one decision that prevents questioning later down the line. When the positive choice is obvious we won’t go out of our way for a negative option.

Surround Yourself with People You Want to Be Like

We all hang out with people in one-sided relationships through social media. Following people on different channels throughout their journey in life impacts the way we grow, the values we admire and who we will become in 5, 10 years.

We get influenced by the people we give our time to and that happens on different levels: standards of fitness and beauty, the attitude towards life and towards other people and generally if we see ourselves as beautiful or not.

All this comes hand in hand with what we consume and we pay for in time and money. A choice that we think we are making is being dictated by earlier decisions. So who do you follow? Who do you let in and how much trust do you give them? What’s your criteria to make sure that the people you give yourself to add value to your life?

Decision Making, Habits and Willpower

Making the same decision repeatedly will lead to habit creation within 30 days. What this means is that the neural pathways become so well-traveled that taking that way becomes involuntary. Just like leaving house on a Monday morning without thinking which way you have to take in order to go to work.

Willpower is pivotal to habit creation. It helps us make the right decisions in times that matter – those ridiculously important 5, 10, 17, 28, 30 days. Once the time is up, Willpower and Habit become the visiting relatives, with Willpower stepping in when Habit hits the snooze button. And that’s okay. But if Willpower is a constant visitor, Habit thinks their job is done.

Then we are back to the first step of making a decision. The same decision. Maybe better implemented?

The Dramatic Point in Life.

When we face the conscious decision of choosing road Y or road Z at a crossroad is when the dramatic tension builds. We take into account all the variables. But what if it’s an ‘impossible’ decision? We then spend time in the safe zone, the purgatory of decision-making, thinking that time is our friend, that time can crystallize our views.

The second we say yes or no, leave or stay, change or flatten into our traits, we lose the power of making THAT decision at THAT crossroad. What we gain instead is the power of equally important choices along the way. There is no going back in life – it truly isn’t. We can only explore life head on: adjust, grow, fail, learn, succeed. Always on the move.