How To Make a Decision

“Waiting hurts. Forgetting hurts. But not knowing the decision to make can be the most painful…”
-Jose’ N. Harris

Decision making is one of the most common-placed activity the human mind engages in. it covers every aspect of human life; personal or others. From “should I wake up now or later” or “should I eat bread or swallow pounded yam”, to “do we obey the oppressive laws or engage in civil disobedience”. Everyone makes decisions, rich, poor, slave or free. No one is exempt from making decisions about their lives or something else. Decisions are important because they are the navigating systems of your life. Your decisions create your life, the decisions you made yesterday is why you are where you are today, and the decisions you make today would determine who you will be tomorrow and where you will be. There are three characteristics of decision making;

  • Your decisions determine your destiny:  the state of your life now is the sum total of all the decisions you have made concerning your life. The course you studied, who you married, where you settled or work …. Many folk try to argue that they did not have a choice in the decisions of their lives, they blame overbearing parents, the economy, a death of a loved one, a ruthless boss…. But the truth is that every command from an external source is only an opinion, and at best should be taken under advisement. We are the ones that give power to the opinions of others and determine the place they have in our lives. Our lives are a result of our choices.

  • Decisions are based on options: life is like a destination with many paths, and you are allowed to take only one path per time. Every decision you need to make comes with multi-choice options, and you must choose only one, no matter how many the options are.” Where do I live? Who do I marry? Which course do I study in school? Which school do I study at? Do I even need to go to college?

  • Decisions are made rationally: We are expected to navigate among the many options and choose the one whose outcome is in our best interest. Our choices are not meant to gratify our immediate desires most of the time, but are meant to choose and combine options that result in the pre-planned desired goals for our lives. So even though I would rather choose to stay in bed past sunrise, I will get up so I don’t get fired from my job, and I will choose to read through the night, even though I’d rather sleep, because I have to pass the examination.

You can’t make decisions based on fear and possibility of what might happen.”
Michelle Obama.

There is this story from the Bible of four lepers that got caught in a bind, which makes me think of decision making every time I come across it. They lived in ancient Israel, when the culture was to send folk who had certain skin illnesses that were contagious and women who were menstruating out of town (women’s liberation groups would have had a field day suing the Israeli government). Anyway these four guys were hanging out outside the city gate trying to make the best of a bad situation, and to make matters worse, it was the worst economic meltdown Israel had ever seen, there was no cash in circulation, and resources had dried up for both the rich and poor. Adding to the whole calamitous situation, another country had just lunched a military attack on Israel and placed an all-round embargo on them; no flight, no import or export…

Facing imminent starvation if nothing was done, the guys decided to look at their options and this was their summation “what are we doing sitting here at deaths door? If we enter the famine-struck city we’ll die; if we stay here we’ll die. So let’s take our chances with the Aram…. If they receive us we’ll live, if they kill us we’ll die, we’ve got nothing to lose.”2 kings 2: 3-4. They were three deductions they made, that helped them make their decision.

  • They identified their problem: they were able to identify what exactly their problem was, they broke down the big problem, until they discovered the main problem they faced. Most of the time, we off-handily attribute our problems to the first thing that comes to our head“ the government, the economy, our friends, our parents, the air….” These guys understood that even though the major problem was famine in Israel, their immediate problem was that they will die of hunger if they didn’t find food.  Learn to break down your problem to the smallest divisible state before you decide.

  • They listed their options: they took time to list all the options presented to them, and figured out what they would gain from each one. Most of the time, we chose without really thinking of the outcome because it’s easier for us.  We rather ask our broke friend for financial assistance than the wealthy senior colleague, because it’s easier. Our only thinking should be which option best solves my problem?

  • They acted immediately: once they eliminated all the other options that won’t work, they acted on the one that had best potential for success. It had only a 50/50% chance of working, but it was the best they had, so they took it.

Making good decisions are inevitable to the success of our daily lives, according to management guru Peter Drucker “making good decisions is a crucial skill on every level.” so learn to make good decisionsand quickly“it is only in our decisions that we are important.” Jean-Paul Sartre. And by the way, the four guys in the bible story survived, yippee!

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/"

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a writer, entrepreneur, blogger, public speaker and an all-round knowledge junkie who likes to view life from different angles.

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