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Your Choices Are Screwing up Your Life - Here’s How to Make More Intelligent Decisions

by | Feb 28, 2022 | Life Hacks

Decisions quietly shape your life.

Many people don’t see their power. They assume small decisions don’t matter.

But even what you decide to have for lunch today will shape your future health. Whether you exercise today will shape your fitness. Whether you write online today will shape your creative future.

A gentle giant I used to work with hated career decisions.

I was a partial mentor to him. He felt empty inside. He regretted not moving his career forward after being stuck in the same dead-end job for 5+ years. I tried to help.

“Dude, you’ve got to make new decisions,” I said loudly

“But I don’t know what to do. What if I make the wrong decision,” he’d say.

This same conversation would repeat. It felt like groundhog day. We never got anywhere. Until I said…

“Not deciding is deciding.”

The career change he wants still evades him. He’s choosing the path of least resistance, which is a huge resistance to what he wants.

A mistake repeated more than once is a decision — Paulo Coelho

Don’t let decision-making screw up your life. Here’s how.

The wrong choice makes you better off

Decisions are hard because we’re afraid to make the wrong choice.

Jimmy Wale, the founder of Wikipedia, told Tim Ferriss on his podcast that you have to get to a point where you believe in what you’re doing and the decision you’re about to say yes to.

He says that even when the decision doesn’t work in your favor, you’re better off having done it. That’s how he felt about much of his Wikipedia experience.

It reminds me of an article I read from Sean Kernan about his divorce.

I got the feeling by the end, he was better off getting married and divorced, than avoiding the whole nightmare.

Divorce gave him the lessons needed to meet the right woman. But he had to grow as a person and use those lessons to attract his dream woman.

The toughest decisions I’ve ever made

  • Getting married
  • Quitting my job
  • Quitting a startup I loved
  • Accepting I had mental illness
  • Getting a cancer check in a hospital that scared the sh*t out of me — and led to lumps getting found, followed by a near-miss with cancer.

Each of these decisions tested me. None of them were easy. All of them made me feel fearful.

To make these tough choices I had to follow my gut feeling. I had to know that even if the decision blew up in my face, I could always use the struggle to bounce back and grow because of it.

Hard decisions are supposed to challenge you.

It’s the decisions you don’t make that screw up your life and cause regrets when you’re old and crusty.

Giant leaps aren’t really giant leaps at all

The problem with my mentee is he wasn’t willing to pay the price.

Writer Shane Parrish says it’s about consistently making the small choices that put you on the path to success.

That path has a cost. You pay it and work in peaceful bliss knowing that time is working for you. The results may not show it … but they will.

Shane goes on to say, giant leaps in progress are a series of ordinary choices that suddenly become visible.

The day the results become visible looks like overnight success. It’s not.

Small consistent choices turn the ordinary into extraordinary.

When everyone agrees with you when you make a decision, you get paid linearly. When everyone agrees with you after the fact, you get paid exponentially — Shane Parrish

red sign with skull and cross bones reading "This is your decision point back country risks include death" showing severity of making some decisions
Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

The Mark Manson rule of thumb

Most decisions aren’t permanent. Author Mark Manson suggests it’s better to move too fast on those.

For the permanent decisions, he suggests we move too slow. I agree.

Permanent decisions are ones you take your time with. Get comfortable with both paths created by the fork in the road a decision creates.

I use a pros and cons list for permanent decisions.

Not so I can get an outcome that has zero cons. But so I can get used to the outcomes the cons might create. Then I make a choice based on the decision that has the best set of pros.

No decision is perfect.

If you spend the time to do the mental work beforehand, the preparation you did will reduce the fear.

Money gives you choices

Make money online to buy more life choices. That’s what I preach.

Billionaire Shahid Khan said “money gives you choices. Not having money sucks. You have to say no to so many things you want to say yes to.”

Now you know why making money online matters. More money not only equals more time to do whatever you want. It equals more time to make smarter choices and do the research.

Plus, passive income increases the optionality in life because you slowly become less reliant on a salary to feed yourself. Years later you can even quit your job and make your own choices if you want.

The most expensive decisions are often caused by overthinking and inaction — Orange Book

Money can hide good choices too

Sue Flood started her career as a researcher. The job is one of the lowest paying in the world. Many do it for free.

Her dream was to work with the nature documentary master, Sir David Attenborough. She pitched the BBC tv network to get a job as a researcher.

Her resume didn’t have enough wow-factor.

So she went on various research trips to places such as the Great Barrier Reef. She got paid zero and felt like some months she wouldn’t be able to pay her bills. Those free research gigs got her a chance to interview with The BBC.

Each time she had to go through multiple rounds and compete with hundreds of people. It took ages before she got anywhere.

At long last she came second in an interview. That led to another tv show. She eventually got to work with David Attenborough on some of his most famous series such as Blue Planet.

The choice to do this job and work with David would never have happened if she had made choices based on money.

That’s why these odd career paths are often hidden from most people. They’re so desperate to make bank that they can’t see the beauty of where free work can lead them.

The first step doesn’t determine the path for all of your tomorrows

Writer Ashely Ford explains decisions differently.

A decision kicks off a first step. A first step after a decision isn’t the end. It’s the first of many steps. She recalls in her book that for ages she would stand still, too afraid to make a decision.

She saw potential paths as ones she would have to follow for the rest of her life. That’s a scary feeling that will screw up any good decision.

A friend finally told her that the first step after a decision doesn’t 100% determine one path for all her future tomorrows.

If the path her first step led her down was wrong, there would always be more decisions to make, and more chances to shift direction should things go bad. The first step is a chance at action. Don’t let it mess up the next hundred steps.

We can change course if we get lost in life.

Closing Thought

A life you could only dream of happens when you choose to make hard choices and accept your fate.

No decision will be perfect. Every decision carries risk. But not making a decision IS a decision.

Lack of decisions lead to painful regrets that can ruin your life.

Optimize decisions for no regrets, not a fear of failure.

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