Choices: How Do You Make Them?
Throughout our lives, we are faced with making difficult decisions about the road we will take. This ranges from smaller, less important decisions such as buying a new car or whether to attend a particular party, function, or conference, to more important, huge decisions, such as whether to marry, purchasing a home, deciding whether or when to have a child. How do we make these choices in our lives? Is there a better way?
Most people make choices about the smaller things on-the-fly, quickly weighing one’s needs and desires with one’s resources. Should I eat the cheeseburger at McDonald’s, or get a chicken sandwich? Well, that depends on whether or not I have enough money for the chicken sandwich and what I feel like eating today. We make the decision and move on. After all, I can always eat something different for lunch tomorrow. Should I buy that shirt? If I like it enough, convince myself I need it, and have the resources to do so (e.g., money), sure.
But when it comes down to life’s larger decisions, things are not so simple. We make these larger decisions only a few times in our lives, and in some cases, only once. How can we make sure we’re making the right decision at these times? Is there such a thing as a right decision in the first place?? Is there an easier way to make this decision?
First, we must acknowledge that such decisions, because they are by definition very important to ourselves and our lives, include an emotional, non-rational aspect. That’s alright, as long as we acknowledge there is that aspect and give it some weight. The important thing to realize is not to give it all the weight, as some people sometimes do. We are not purely emotional creatures, so our major life decisions shouldn’t be based purely on the emotional reasons.
Second, it often helps people to sit down and write out a list of the pros and cons of the choices involved. Let’s take buying a house as an example. We could list the pros and cons of buying this home we found in a charming neighborhood the other day. Yes, it is charming (an emotional aspect), which is a pro. Other pros might include that it has a 2-car garage, lots of space, a modern kitchen, and is beautifully refinished. Now, before we move on to the cons, we want to assign weight values to each thing we listed. Space is important to us, so it gets a “10” (10 is the most important, 1 is the least important). A modern kitchen is less important, so it might get a “5.” Our list will look something like this so far:
Quality of interior/exterior
|Total / #=Average:||34 / 5 = 6.8||Total / #=Average:|
Now we take a look at some of the cons… It’s a far drive from our work, and that’s important to us because it creates a daily hassle and daily stress. It is also in an area of town which doesn’t have a lot of conveniences nearby, such as a supermarket or gas station. There are fewer bathrooms than we’d like, and the basement isn’t finished. Putting these into the chart, we get something which looks like: