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The Value of a Decision

A recent article about ambivalence caught my attention and I wanted to share some tips with my readers.  My writings usually focus on financial topics but today, let’s look at the value of making a decision. We will spend a few minutes exploring something that has no price but can exact a cost if ignored. Did it ever occur to you that being indecisive can be costly?

One of my favorite rock bands has a line in a song that says, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”  Reflect on that for a moment and let’s think of an example. How about banking? If you keep delaying the decision to open a savings or checking account, you might cause yourself to lose money.  One way is with the lack of interest income you could be receiving if your money were already in an interest-bearing account. Another potential loss from indecision is with the money itself. Is it safe wherever it is being held while a decision is made? That envelope of cash under the mattress has the potential to disappear while financial institutions have pretty solid reputations for keeping people’s money safe.

What about other money decisions that have financial implications – like starting a retirement account?  The longer we delay making a decision about the type of account and how much we will contribute, the more we are potentially decreasing our retirement income.  It takes time to build those balances that will provide us the funds we need in the future. We know that market corrections happen and it may take time to recover our balances. The more we can ensure that time is on our side in the planning stages, the more we can be confident about our ability to live well after we stop earning a wage.

There are other types of decisions that can be impacted by delays.  For instance – health related decisions. Often we are aware that certain age related tests are recommended but we put them off. “I am too busy at work right now to go to the doctor.” Or, “I feel fine, I would know if something were wrong.” Those are both dangerous, ambivalent statement we fool ourselves with. Without delving too deeply on this topic, I will mention that in health matters, being proactive rather than reactive is often the best choice.

Now that I’ve made my point about being pointed, the question remains: what if you just can’t decide? Well, indecision is all too common and an easy trap.  Because of this, I will share with you some handy tips I learned recently from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. This process can help us lead ourselves toward a decision we can live with.

  1.  Take a moment to reflect.  High pressure decisions are often regrettable ones.  Those high pressure salespeople use this tactic to their advantage.  Instead of feeling pressured, take a moment to find a quiet place. You might take a few deep breaths while you think through a choice. Sometimes just getting away from the pressure of a decision helps us to step back and look at the big picture better.
  2.   If undecided, take a moment to imagine how life might be different depending on which decision you make. What if you already decided to do ‘X’, how does it feel? What consequences do you foresee? Can you visualize a positive outcome?  Let that sit with you a moment, and then imagine you decided against ‘X”. Now how do you feel? Which choice seems most appropriate for you when imaging yourself on the other side of it?  Perhaps one choice or another feels more appealing.  Perhaps you were able to envision an entirely new option.  Either way, you have a feel for ‘living with your choice’ before making it.

By going through the steps, you give yourself time to reflect and envision possibilities before making a commitment, which might just be exactly what you need to make the best decision. If you choose to decide, you have made the first choice toward making a decision.