Skip to main content

Decisions, How to Make Good Ones

October 02, 2020

I shared a passage from Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening” with my children titled “Consider or Enter.” These begin with a poem or saying. The poem read:

If you try to comprehend air before breathing it, you will die.

It was offered by me because of its timely message for how they were grappling with their current issues.

This led us into a dialogue about how their father figure gave them many examples through their life of list all the different scenarios for consideration and research. I observe both of my children doing the same as me today as young adults. Did they get this from nurture or were they destined to deliberate in this way due to their nature? It may be years before a definitive study is generated to identify the basis for this type of behavior. Understanding why we do this is secondary to how do we decide when to choose.

Whether it is deliberating over a philosophical topic or picking the design for kitchen cabinet doors I see endless possible solutions. For the kitchen cabinets I wonder how to best envision each option in the finished product without the benefit of the seeing how the light will strike the surface through the day. Every moment in our lives could create similar questions. Even deciding which choices warrant our attention can fall into this rabbit hole. Some will say it is easy, just prioritize the choices to determine which you will allocate this time to deliberate. Isn’t that a choice as well? How should anyone decide?

In truth there are large parts of our lives in which we have clear rules regarding the choice to be made so it doesn’t appear there is a choice. “It’s just the way it is.” “Everybody would agree this is the right choice.” “This is the way we have always done this.” Whether we use our parents, tradition, or science for example, it still comes down to our selecting.

Science is commonly used today to suggest a way of simplifying the choice because science is supposed to be unbiased. We could then agree with that premise and therefore defer to what results are produced in the lab. But what do we do when there is research that appear to produce conflicting results? In fact, the practice of Science is to redo research and approach topics for different angles to see if premises hold up. There were have been truths based in Science that have been changed because the rules of Science changes. Science is not a sufficient proxy for identifying the “right” choice on its own.

How to Identify the Right Choice

Making the “right” choice or the “best” choice is always subjective. It took me most of my life to even notice my definition of “right” or “best” were based primarily upon what someone else said or the summary of groups of people. I didn’t know how to trust my own opinion.

Living a life I love is dependent upon making the choices that are right for me. It’s knowing how to include the observations and opinions of others as part of my process for forming my decision. It also means to find the place within ourselves which we can use to choose.

If you are in the group of people like myself and my children, drawn to endless deliberation, ask yourself this question: could your need to deliberate be tied to your confidence about making the “right” decision? If this is so, I encourage you to find a coach to help you develop your decision-making process. This is so you can understand what is needed as well as what it will take to be making the right decision. Decisions that will build a life that you love.