Friday, October 27, 2006

Making the Right Decision

Why and how do people make the decisions they make? For instance, why are casino gamblers willing to keep betting even while expecting to lose? Why do people say they want to save for retirement, eat better, start exercising, quit smoking—and then say they “mean it” - but they do no such things.

The answer - people very robustly want instant gratification right now, and want to be patient in the future. They do worse in life because they spend too much for what they want now, at the expense of items they want in the future. In the now, people want to eat chocolate, to smoke cigarettes and to sit on their couches and watch television. While in the future, they want to eat fruit, to quit smoking, and to get outside being active. People buy things they can’t afford on a credit card, and as a result they get to buy less over the course of their lifetimes.

Another reality – it is easy. It is easy to be lazy, to shy away from challenges, and to procrastinate. It is easier to tell yourself to begin to save for retirement, eat better, start exercising, and quit smoking tomorrow than it is today. The exact things that people want to own, to reach, and to achieve tend not to be easy because if they were, everyone would have them. Another reason for making these easy decisions evolve from behaviours that are driven by the moment. People struggle to make choices that are purposeful and thought-out because they either feel that they are pressured, or they do not have the confidence to make a decision that might require work. Unfortunately, the world happens in real time and making irrational decisions might lead to mediocre or negative results.

Some suggestions and solutions to make the "right" decisions so that you can take the necessary steps towards where you want to go include:
  • Set realistic goals that are achievable
  • Be aware of the benefits and consequences of any situation
  • Understand that items that have an immediate cost (particularly time and work ethic) usually have a future payoff – sow before reap
  • Recognize that things are only as difficult as you make them
  • Challenge yourself
  • Don’t succumb to mediocre results
  • Live and act in the now and not in the future
  • Believe in yourself
  • Have the confidence to make a decision
Don't wait, act now. Make the conscious choice to swim upstream!

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