Taking care of yourself involves making your own choices. Most of us can handle the simple decisions we have to make. Not much thought is required when deciding what we’re going to eat for breakfast or what movie we want to watch. Life decisions, on the other hand, can be harder to manage.
What makes some choices more difficult than others? Is a different mental process required for tough decisions or does it just require more brain power? The answer is actually a bit more complicated.
We don’t get to choose which choices we get to make. Instead, we have opportunities for decision making presented to us over time. I can decide to go to high school prom only once. I don’t get to decide who becomes president of the United States because the Electoral College does that for me. We may have many doors to choose from, but the windows of opportunity get shut eventually. The only real choice is which opportunities we decide to take.
Choosing to go through one door closes others. At the same time, new doors to choose become available with each choice we make. Some choices close many doors of opportunity while some choices keep everything wide open for later. And some doors open up many new doors to choose from while others open up few of them. Making wise decisions is less about what is the better choice and more about what choice opens up the right opportunities.
Plan to Plan
We can easily predict which opportunities will arise from making casual choices. Wearing a suit and tie to my job interviews gives me more of an opportunity to get the better paying jobs than if I came in wearing a T-shirt and a pair of jeans. On the other hand, the tough decisions are harder to figure out because you can’t be 100% sure what the consequences will be.
Complex decision making takes planning. Another word for planning is preparation. We prepare ourselves for hard decisions by making our choices before the opportunities for them open up. Good planning also entails making multiple choices in successive stages. Decide to do something with the opportunities you have expecting more opportunities to become available with each step of your plan.
I want to get into the entertainment industry so I developed a plan to help me become a part of it. Each phase of my plan has opportunities that will guide me to the next phase. I’ve already decided which choices I’m going to make ahead of time so I’ll be ready to take the opportunities as they come. Going to college opened up more opportunities than it closed. Having the friends I chose to make is the best thing that ever happened to me. I look forward to the consequences of all my choices going forward.