Every day, each of us makes hundreds of decisions. Many of these are made unconsciously: what to wear, how to drive, words to use in conversations, as well as many other seemingly little unimportant choices. Other decisions can have a significant impact on our: day, relationships, career, life and ultimate outcomes that will be created as a result of these choices. There are also all of the major choices we make that we consciously rationalize.
Take, for instance, the college you chose, the course of study you selected, or the decision of a life mate. These will either haunt you for years, or bring you nothing but joy and satisfaction as you live your life moving one day at a time into your future.
Most people make the majority of their choices with little awareness or regard for the outcome they set in motion. Consider the student who selects a career and spends years and money to pursue it – then discovers, for whatever reason, that he/she has made a poor choice. The life partner selected in the early years who has given you nothing but satisfaction and joy, but who suddenly turns on you – making you realize that you should have “seen it coming” but failed to do so because the decision wasn’t thought through carefully enough.
I have made more poor choices in my life than I care to recall, and I am the one who must learn to live with the consequences of my choices. I have no one to blame. My choices – my outcomes. When we feel in hindsight that we have made a poor choice, we can have a number of responses: we can whine, blame, fret, or feel remorse or guilt. Or, we can accept these as an integral part of the learning process or growth in life and move on.
In my recent book, The Trade Off – a fictional self-help story about one such person who made decisions without the simple understanding that every choice has a consequence – some of the outcomes are negative while others are positive, some are long-term while others are immediate. It deals with the fact that, in the end, every choice has an outcome – a consequence.
The key to a happy and peaceful life is understanding a few simple rules when making choices – whether it is the food you eat or the exercise you avoid, the career you select or the people you choose to be around. They are:
1. Remember that your choices are yours and yours alone.
2. No one else is responsible for your outcomes.
3. Decisions made without clear thinking will tend to create poor outcomes.
4. Listen to your inner self, intuition or gut when choosing.
5. Listen to your body, emotions or feelings when deciding.
6. Be careful of casually overriding these inner messages.
7. Outcomes that may seem negative may have longer-term positive results.
8. You can’t avoid consequences.
9. Consequences are neutral when it comes to feelings, attitudes or perceptions.
10. To see yourself as a victim is to wish that your circumstances continue.
Yes, I understand that bad things do happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. But, I would quote one of those famous anonymous quotesters (I know not a word, but it works for me) – “What goes around comes around.” If you have never read, it I would suggest reading Emerson’s essay “The law of compensation.” Very insightful. By the way, I highly recommend The Trade Off to anyone who is contemplating a major decision in life. I guarantee it will help you make a wiser choice.