How do I Know I’m Making the Right Decision?

May 15, 2018

Susy Welch, an editor of the Harvard Business Review, has developed a technique for making good decisions. This technique is based on keeping in mind the immediate, medium, and long-term. Welch proposes that before making a decision, you have to filter it through the 10/10/10 rule. You should ask yourself, am I going to feel bad about this in 10 minutes? In the next 10 months? Or will I still remember and regret this, even, 10 years from now?

We all make decisions every day, be it for pleasure or out of obligation. If you look back on things that bothered you a while ago, you’ll realize that even “bad” decisions can have good consequences. And a “good” decision can also bring about unexpected outcomes.

Thus, it’s convenient to not obsess so much about which is the correct decision. Instead, you should analyze all of the possibilities and/or consequences of what could happen. If you obsess over making the right decisions, you’re assuming that in some way you’re going to be rewarded for one thing and punished for the other. And, if you know the real world doesn’t work like this, then why do you force yourself to face this dichotomy?

“It’s in your decision-making moments that your destiny is formed.”
-Tony Robbins-

A woman is balancing on railroad tracks.

Don’t obsess over the two extremes: correct and incorrect decisions

In order to make decisions, keep in mind that at the very least you’ll get to keep the lesson the decision-making process grants you. Also, you’ll get all of the lessons the actual choice you made will provide. On the other hand, whether the option you chose is the best or worst, a lot of the time depends on the degree of commitment you develop with it.

When you face the task of making a decision, your intuition and your emotions about the situation will heavily influence you. If not in the decision itself, it will at least affect how you will feel after making it. When faced with various options, it’s natural that you’ll have doubts about what is right or wrong. The only thing you can do in this sense is let time pass, see what happens, and correct your decision if necessary.

Many decisions offer up a hidden or disguised alternative: to not do anything. It is hidden because some people think that opting for this option is the same as not deciding. Nothing could be further from the truth. Deciding to do nothing is also a valid decision. It’s an option that isn’t bad per se. Often it’s prudent and even allows for new options to emerge, options which you might prefer.

However, on many other occasions, we do nothing because it causes the least amount of dissonance. Or because it’s the choice which required the least amount of effort or the one which allows you to avoid the responsibility for its consequences. In these three cases, doing nothing is usually not the best choice. Maybe it will provide relief in the short term, but it’s likely that in the long term it will only bring about anxiety.

“Think 100 times before you take a decision, But once that decision is taken, stand by it as one man.” 
-Muhammad Ali Jinnah-
Two arrow signs pointing in opposite directions to make a decision

Take full advantage of each and every experience

A good way to squeeze the most out of every experience is to learn to not judge or punish yourself for thinking that you’ve made a mistake. Mistakes require correction or solutions, but not punishment. There is no important or complicated decision which doesn’t imply a sacrifice or a waiver.

Taking advantage of opportunities gives you the confidence to generate them when you’re going through difficult moments and none appear on their own. On the other hand, more important than knowing how to take advantage of an opportunity is knowing how to generate one, having the will and the intelligence to move when the train refuses to pass through the station.

Also, the worst thing you can do when making a decision is not making a mistake. Trying to justify your mistake instead of taking advantage of it is a warning for similar situations. In order to make decisions that you won’t regret later, it’s important to be prepared. Knowing how to wait is even more important. But taking advantage of the correct moment is the key to life.

A happy woman with her eyes closed.

When the story repeats itself, it might not be due to the decision made but to not having learned from previous experiences. The good think about decisions is that the trains of life are constantly passing by. You might let one pass which would have taken you somewhere wonderful. But you never know what other trains are just about to arrive and restore your hope.