One of my mentors once told me, that “In the end, we will be assessed by our decisions, not by our results.” I have fought hard, not just to remember this idea, but to live by it.
Throughout the last decade, I have humbly discovered that for better or for worse, my decisions and day-to-day choices shape and decree the outcomes and results that I experience. In other words, I have what I have today because of the decisions and behaviours I chose yesterday.
From joining the military at age seventeen to moving to Australia and living on a new continent by myself, to choosing to return to full-time education and obtain a college degree at age thirty, I learned that we are not a result of our struggles, we are a product of the choices we make.
From walking out of a comfortable career in sales and marketing to interlocking my life with Karen, my wife; I’ve noticed there are three distinct classes of decision we each make:
Type 1) Fear-Based Decisions
Fear-based decisions keep us in our comfort zones and spawn out of our innate self-doubts and worries. Fear-based choices cheat us out of new experiences and opportunities because we won’t take risks and step out into unchartered territories. Those who procrastinate in their decision making will inevitably have their choices made by general life circumstances, or by others.
“There is no more discontented human being than one in whom nothing is constant but indecision.” – William James
One of the most detrimental characteristics of fear is that it impairs our ability to focus. When we worry, our thoughts often become sporadic and resultantly we lose confidence in our ability to decide. We cannot advance or make progress in life without making decisions.
Type 2) Value-Based Decisions
Value-based decisions come from the core of who we are and only need us to be daring and courageous. These are the sort of decisions that propel us toward personal growth and a whole world of new opportunities. Value-based decision making requires that we exercise faith for the best possible outcomes, instead of fearing for the worst.
“Whenever making a decision, the most useful thing we can do is the right thing, the second best thing is the wrong thing, and the most dangerous thing we can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
In my experience, value-based decisions are the choices we make that lead us toward accomplishing great things and living differently from the masses. Value-based choices beckon us to select the route where there are no predetermined tracks to follow, and in doing this, we leave behind new paths for the generations that follow.
Type 3) Rationale-Based Decisions
Rationale-based decisions require us to execute well-informed choices from historical data or prerecorded information. This class of decision making can often hinder us from embracing the unknown or stepping outside the safety zone. People who make their decisions based upon logic and rationale tend to prefer the status quo and anything that is time-proven and tested.
“No wise decision can be made without taking into account the world as it currently is, and the world as it will eventually be.” – Issac Asimov
Rational-based decisions take into account our previous experiences, wins, losses and seek to avoid unnecessary future risks or failure. Decisions of a rational nature are usually based on facts and figures, and while may seem smart to some people, seldom require bravery or faith to execute. Choices that are based purely upon logic and rationale rarely lead to growth or progression.
Making any decision is better than making no decision. Fear-based decisions cultivate change in the same way that rational-based decisions can provoke us to reflect on our experiences and become open to the aspects of our lives that we need to work on and improve.
When making a decision of low importance, it’s beneficial to weigh all the pros and cons. In important matters, such as choosing a life partner or professional vocation, these decisions should always be made in response to our values.
Once you have made a thoughtful decision based on facts, step into action right away. Don’t pause to reconsider. Don’t worry or lose yourself in self-doubting, which only propagates other doubts.
We cannot make progress without making decisions.