The important thing to remember is that we are a product of the choices we make. Each decision helps to define who we are and how we’re different from one another. Making good choices begins with taking charge of the decision-making process. Do you make good choices?
What is a choice?
Webster Dictionary states:
act of choosing; the voluntary act of selecting or separating from two or more things that which is preferred; the determination of the mind in preferring one thing to another; election
the power or opportunity of choosing; option
care in selecting; judgment or skill in distinguishing what is to be preferred, and in giving a preference; discrimination
a sufficient number to choose among
the thing or person chosen; that which is approved and selected in preference to others; selection
the best part; that which is preferable
worthly of being chosen or preferred; select; superior; precious; valuable
preserving or using with care, as valuable; frugal; — used with of; as, to be choice of time, or of money
selected with care, and due attention to preference; deliberately chosen
Our conscious choices are determined and limited by our Intellect.
Choice consists of the mental process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one or more of them.
Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” —Keri Russell
While a choice can be made between imagined options, often a choice is made between real options and followed by the corresponding action. For example, a route for a journey is chosen based on the preference of arriving at a given destination as soon as possible. The preferred route is then derived from information about how long each of the possible routes takes. This can be done by a route planner. If the preference is more complex, such as involving the scenery of the route, cognition and feeling are more intertwined, and the choice is less easy to delegate to a computer program or assistant.
More complex examples include choosing a lifestyle, religious affiliation, or political position. Most people regard having choices as a good thing, though a severely limited or artificially restricted choice can lead to discomfort with choosing and possibly, an unsatisfactory outcome.
In contrast, a choice with excessively numerous options may lead to confusion, the regret of the alternatives not taken, and indifference in an unstructured existence; and the illusion that choosing an object or a course leads necessarily to control of that object or course can cause psychological problems.
“We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.” —Stephen Covey
THE POWER OF CHOICE
In the workplace:
Employees who are given choices in how to approach their work are more motivated, have better job satisfaction, and are more productive
In gaming: The most popular video games are those that offer players the most choices and control over game elements
In medicine: Patients are more likely to adhere to medical instructions when they are given multiple treatment options
“Life presents you with so many decisions. A lot of times, they’re right in front of your face and they’re really difficult, but we must make them.” —Brittany Murphy
Life is full of hard choices, and the bigger they are and the more options we have, the harder they get.
As it happens, our brains are fairly binary. They can react very quickly when presented with two options, especially when one’s clearly better. Stand here and drown in the rising waters or jump onto that big rock and be safe? Easy choice.
When presented with more options, though, we choke up. Jump onto the rock or climb the tree? We don’t know which is clearly better, and research shows that most people will not choose at all when presented with several equally good options.
Practice, experience, and rules of thumbs can help us to make those split-second decisions (for example, “When in doubt, go left” has done pretty well for me so far). Fortunately, we don’t normally face immediate, do-or-die decisions — we usually have the luxury of working through a decision.
Learn to distinguish between an impulse and intelligent decision. Impulse, usually, dissolves after some time. For example impulse to eat, shop, travel etc. However an intelligent decision stays in consciousness for a while. It could be days, weeks or months.
An intelligence decision may come in the form of an impulse but be aware if you feel the same way about the decision after some time. That’s why taking gaps after collecting information, by asking questions, helps to make intelligent decisions.
Experiment: Notice the quality of actions after you take a few deep breaths as compared to when your actions arise out of an impulse.
“The key to accepting responsibility for your life is to accept the fact that your choices, every one of them, are leading you inexorably to either success or failure, however, you define those terms.” —Neal Boortz
How To Make The Best Choices
Get as much information as possible. Most decisions are made better when you have enough information to make an informed decision. Making decisions, especially if they’re about important topics, should rely on logic. Do some research to find out as much as you can about your decision.
For example, if you were trying to decide between keeping a full-time job and switching to a part-time job to spend more time with your kids, you would need to know how much money you would be losing each month by making the switch. You would also need to consider how much time you would gain with your kids. Record this information, as well as any other relevant information that might help you make your decision.
You would need to consider other options too, and gather information about them. For example, you could ask your employer whether it’s possible for you to telecommute at least a few days a week
Most likely, the choice you make now isn’t going to drastically change your life. It also isn’t generally going to be of long-term duration. So, you can enter a decision with the confidence that you can revise your actions later, take a different course of action, learn from your mistakes, and keep going. This is often at odds with what you’re feeling emotional since the idea of change is scary and venturing into the unknown doesn’t mesh with what you feel are your strengths. Being able to objectively look at this choice and identify it as non-threatening will help.
Some decisions make short-term sense but in the long run can be disastrous. For example, telling your guy you cheated on him once three years ago may relieve your guilt, but it will probably cause him to break up with you. Similarly, doing things like sitting in the sun or having unprotected sex often can feel right in the moment, but these toxic behaviors have serious health ramifications.
A good rule of thumb: Play out each possible scenario in your mind…and consider the outcome (on your health, on a friend’s or boyfriend’s feelings, on your credit-card bill — whatever) before making a controversial move.
No one is going to be successful in making the right choice every time. That’s not how life works. But giving up when you encounter disappointment or failure isn’t the way to get the most out of life. Doing something else, however, is. If you stumble the first time out, it doesn’t mean you’re awful at making choices. It does mean there’s a lesson here you need to learn. Take stock of the lesson and figure out a new approach. You want and need to amass a successful track record. This will occur the more you make decisions with the full input of logical analysis and carry out the actions you’ve determined are necessary.
A study found that when making simple choices (like what cereal to buy), it pays to be rational. But when it comes to bigger ones (like which job to take), you’re better off listening to your instincts. That’s not to say you should buy a car on a whim, but if you have weighed the pros and cons and still can’t reach a conclusion, let your snap judgment be the tiebreaker and go with what just feels right.
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