Making wise choices to win | Sunday Observer

Making wise choices to win

Each day, we make countless choices. Life is full of hard choices and the bigger they are and the more options we have, the harder they get. Which business degree should I do? What movie should I watch? What should I eat for dinner? Which TV channel should I watch? The ability to make the right choice is a critical life skill. One thing in common in every successful individual is the quality of choices made.

We tend to react very quickly when presented with two options, especially when one is seemingly better. When presented with more than two options, though, we choke up. Practice, experience, and rule of thumb can help us make those split-second decisions which we are forced to make when encountering daily challenges.

Fortunately, we don’t make do-or-die decisions very frequently – we usually have the luxury of working through a decision with acute evaluation of each choice – but when looking back, we will all realise that we have made wrong choices along the journey. The question is; do we really make use of the time available to make the best choice possible.

The old chestnut of decision-making is the list of pros and cons. You make two columns on a piece of paper and write down all the positive things that will come of making a choice in one column and all the negative things in the other. In the end, the side with the most entries wins.

Tunnel vision

But this principle doesn’t take into account the different weight that each positive or negative might have and the probability of making the selected choice work to achieve the end game. If one of your pros is ‘will make a million rupees’ and one of your cons is ‘might get a hangnail’, they don’t exactly cancel each other out. So making choices demands sharp skills; higher the level of skill you have, greater the level and probability of success you can achieve.

Working through a big decision can give us a kind of tunnel vision, where we get so focused on the immediate consequences of the decision at hand that we don’t think about the eventual outcomes we expect.

Sri Lankans make decisions quickly, even when lacking information, tend to be more satisfied with their decisions. People who ‘go with their gut’ are actually trusting the work their unconscious mind has already done, rather than second-guessing it and relying on their conscious mind’s much more limited ability to deal with complex situations.

Whatever process you use to arrive at your decision, your satisfaction with your decision will depend largely on whether you claim ownership of your choices. If you feel pressured into a choice or not in control of the conditions, you’ll find even positive outcomes coloured negatively.

On the other hand, taking full responsibility for your choices can make even failure feel like success – you’ll know you did your best and you will have gained valuable experience. Making the right choices at the right time and making those selected choices work with focus and commitment bring definite success.