Sooner or later we all have to make decisions. Sometimes the right choice appears clear to us, but other times we really have a difficult time deciding. It may be a simple thing to decide, for example, what color should I wear? The choice between black and white is usually easier than the choice between dark blue, marine blue, royal blue, cobalt blue, light blue, blue grey and all blue shades lighter or darker… ( on purpose I didn’t chose grey…)
Babies and toddlers are also confronted with the process of making decisions. It may not be clear to them or to their parents. You have often observed small children when they start to walk and balance unsteadily from one corner of the room to the other. If they fall and haven’t hurt themselves they sometimes wait a little bit before they decide to cry or simply to continue with their efforts. I’m also certain that you have observed children playing… What toy do they usually decide to play with? I know you know… Usually the one the other child is playing with at that exact moment. This decision causes a big stir and ends up in fighting or in the parents intervening to avoid greater trouble.
Children and adults are continuously confronted with choices and decisions. Parents, if being in the position of doing so, usually take a long time, organize many visits, have talks and discussions to decide what would be the best school for their children. I’m sure that you know what I’m talking about. This decision will be made evaluating all possibilities and factors that may have influence on their choice.
Easy decisions may be, for example, what to choose for lunch in a nice restaurant, what to buy as a present for a friend or relative, what radio station should be playing in the car on that long trip, what movie to watch in a rainy evening… Decisions that we have to make every day. Some people may have little trouble and make fast decisions. Others like to think about the smallest details and outcomes and may spend hours deciding. Some other take their time to decide, but are never happy with their own decision, always thinking that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’.
(Image from http://martynballestero.com/tag/greener-grass/)
Not all decisions are the same or have the same weight. Some will only have a limited external effect, for example, our decision may change our figure adding some weight, if we decide to eat the chocolate sundae for dessert while other decisions will affect our lives.
Should you accept to date someone? Should you take the job? Should you buy a car? Should you… Sometimes we know that the decision we are making is not going to be right one, but we do it anyway… Other times we are taken by surprise by the outcomes of a decision we take, these may be positive or negative. In the long run it is always easier to look back and think ‘if I only hadn’t…’.
However, what makes it sometimes hard to decide? Let’s say that we have more or less the same conditions for choosing A or B. There are no big impediments, like for example, money, sicknesses, etc. and you’re not from the ones who take for ever to decide. These mentioned reasons are of course knock outs for some decisions. So, why is it sometimes really hard to decide? As I’m making right now important decisions in my life and my future. I was curious to answer this question and I watched a video with Ruth Chang on hard choices in TED. As I was mentioning before, some people almost never decide, the so called drifters, they let life or others decide for them complaining about life being unfair. Yes, life is not fair and it’s not about fairness. Drifters tend to take the safest choice, no risks.
You may think that decisions that change your life are hard choices, and they are indeed. However, sometimes we know exactly what to do, we feel it or hear an inner voice telling us exactly how it is… If you get a great job offer, you may take, and if you decide not to, it is because you are certain that it is not the best choice for you in that moment of your life.
Now, hard choices are hard because alternatives are equal, objectively there is no alternative better than the other, choices are at a par. This could be positive, both choices are so good that you have trouble deciding, or they may be so risky that you hesitate with your decision. AN example of positive alternatives could be the choice between two excellent candidates for a partnership. Some of you may remember the comic book ‘Archie’, where the High School teen, Archie, was in a constant struggle deciding, if he should date Veronica or Betty. Veronica was the most attractive and rich one, but kind of ‘bitchy’ as we would say nowadays. Betty, pretty and good. Veronica was also taking her chances sometimes dating Archie and sometimes accepting going out with Reggie (Carlos in the Spanish version), the rich and successful guy, though not really a nice guy.
How to pick the best for you? How to decide in a difficult situation? Of course there are the very objective methods of making lists and adding points to each factor involved in the alternative. However, such a method is good for the ‘natural sciences’, where everything can be measured and quantified, temperature, height, weight, etc. But how do you decide in for example matters of the heart? Can you quantify? Mmmm, I doubt it…
Therefore, to decide between similar choices that seem bad it is important to look at reason inside us, and not start looking at reasons out there. Our inner voice usually knows best, though we sometimes start singing aloud ‘lalalala’ to avoid listening… but we know, don’t we?
Another good way of deciding whether to stay or to let go, is the way you feel in that specific situation, if you feel better with someone or in x situation, then keep it, but if you feel better without it or in another place, well then let go. Make it fit by force is not the best idea, think of Cinderella and their sister trying to fit the small cristal shoe to their big foot… Do you get the image?
I hope you now know why and how to decide and invite yourself to have a cup of coffee, tea or whatever, in case you have to make hard choices.