Decisions can change our lives radically— like moving across the country. This decision requires courage and energy to handle making the choice to move and then preparing to leave and adjusting to the new environment. How do we decide? The intial idea emerges from desires seemingly out nowhere.
The period before making the actual decision involves a process of formal and informal information gathering. Then there comes a moment when we’ve completed our information gathering and decide to act. Or we decide not to act. The information gathering reaches a definite end point. That doesn’t always happen though. Sometimes we avoid choosing and these non-decisions fall off our radar because we’ve gotten distracted by other things or we’re just blatantly ignoring it.
A few years ago, I decided to get another car. This process was vastly different than how I obtained my previous two cars. The first one was given to me. There was no choosing involved, only gratefulness of having a car. For the second one, I was going to buy a used car. Although I did test drive a few cars, I knew I wanted a particular brand, model, and it had to be either blue or green. That was my highly-sophisticated method for purchasing a car. Choosing the third car involved a scary amount of decision making. I would consider any car within a particular price range. I had to decide between new and used. I had to test drive different brands and models because I was totally open to anything. I read and re-read reviews on apps and magazines and I looked at lots of websites. In the end, it came down to three cars that I liked driving and then narrowed it down to the brand with the better reviews.
Experiencing the Chaos
I studied cars for about six weeks. During the early and middle weeks, it seemed overwhelming. I felt like I would never know enough to be able to decide. But then the process ran its course and just seemed to be winding down. I had been over all the information and wasn’t getting anything new. It just became time to make a decision. I chose and I was very happy with my decision. When the time came to get my fourth car, I just went with the runner up from last time because they were some features from the third car didn’t have that I missed having. I was still benefiting from the vast research I did for the third car, I didn’t have to put much thought into the fourth car.
What Could Have Been
Sometimes we have to decide on things that may be better for us but will leave us with some regret regardless. Perhaps it’s our college major. Like we changed a more fulfilling major for one that would make more money or vice versa. To paraphrase a quote from Elizabeth Craft from the Happier Podcast, being an adult is learning to live with regret. Not every choice may cause drastic regret, but we have to make choices in life and we have to let go of some things we would like.
A Fresh Start
As the new year rolls in, it gives us a chance to decide what we want in our lives and accept that there are just some things that we will regret and that’s ok. It’s part of life. But we have to make a decision at some point otherwise we will keep going around in circles mulling over the facts. We have to make a decision so we can progress. So when making a decision keep in mind there is a beginning and end point, don’t get bogged down by too much information, and realize that there may be some aspects of a decision that aren’t ideal but we can still appreciate it.