EMAIL #116 - 18TH APRIL 2021 - "MAKING BIG DECISIONS"
Decision making is a topic that, surprisingly, I have only briefly touched on in emails # 86 (The Meaning of Success) +
# 104 (Right & Wrong) yet making good or poor decisions can completely change our lives. So, it feels like a good time to dig a little deeper into this topic and to reflect on a big personal decision that is currently occupying a lot of my mental and emotional energy.
We all make dozens of decisions every day, but at certain times in life we need to make big decisions that can be life changing and have long lasting effects on yourself and your family.
"We often make big decisions with our heart and then justify them with our heads."
Maryanne and I have recently decided to sell our current house, and this definitely feels like one of these life changing decisions, and it has not been an easy one to make. We purchased this property 10 years ago, then spent 4.5 years in design, town planning and building and we have lived in the house for 5.5 years, (which for us is a record for the longest owned property in Melbourne). My whole family absolutely loves this house, and it has been a source of enormous pleasure and pride for all of us to create and to live in this very special home. But our two eldest children moved out a couple of years ago and the house is practically too big for only Maryanne, Maggie, and I to continue living in long term. Added to this, it has never been a better time economically to sell a house like ours; so, we have taken the plunge and the house is now officially on the market. It is too early to know if this is the right decision, but after spending two weekends out inspecting properties for us to potentially buy the gravity of the decision and what we are giving up if we sell our current house has really started to hit home.
"When making big decisions, whichever way you go there are penalties.
What is scary is the uncertainty.
But what's scarier than uncertainty is regret." Unknown
So the big question is why do we find big decisions in life so hard to make?
It's a well-known fact that "everything you do in life is a trade-off" and every choice you make has a cost attached. It also appears true that the benefits of making a decision (the upside) are very quickly apparent, but the costs or penalties
(the downside) often hit home well into the future. In essence a choice or decision really means "what are you willing to give up for something else?" Mark Manson in a recent blog article titled "Three Reasons We Make Terrible Decisions", summed it up beautifully by saying "life is like a big game of Monopoly; to win (or be successful) you must make consistently good trades (decisions)".
From reading several other articles about decision making, it appears that the reason it is difficult for us to make big decisions is that we are very bad at accurately assessing what we are giving up. This is generally because our emotions get in the way and we naturally focus on the upside and give little consideration to the downside. Or as Manson put it "Our emotions hijack our sense of reality". So, it would appear that humans are inherently bad at assessing risk and reward because every decision we make (especially the big ones) we get heavily influenced by our emotions and by social status.
"Right or wrong, just make a decision. The road of life is paved with FLAT RABBITS who couldn't make a decision." Unknown
Next week I will continue this topic by concentrating on how we can potentially make better decisions.
Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and be decisive.