Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Today has been an interesting day. It’s been one filled with reminders about decision making.

First, I read my friend Lindey’s blog about decision making (most excellent post by her, by the way). Her blog entry was sparked by hear reading today’s blog by Steven Furtick (again, a wonderful read). Then I stumbled across the story of Keith Fitzhugh and his decision to stay with his current job as a train conductor than join the NY Jets.

When you think about it, every day is just filled with different types of decisions. Beginning with whether or not to snooze in the morning, to what to wear, to what to eat; our days can be nothing but decision after decision after decision. For example, right now you’ve made the decision to take ten minutes out of your day to read this blog (and I greatly thank you for it). And if we stop to think about the constant process of having to choose we undertake ever day, it can become overwhelming.

As I was planning for a blog entry I want to write later this month, I came across, ironically enough, a blog I wrote years ago about making decisions, and given the theme of the day, I’d like to re-post it and share it with you.

For What It’s Worth (Originally Posted December 21, 2005)

One dirty little secret that no one likes to talk about is that for everything in life there is a cost.  Whether tangible or not, there is a cost for everything we do and everything we acquire.  It’s inevitable.  You may be asking yourself, “How so?”  Let me try to explain.

In economics, there is the concept of opportunity costs.  The cost of taking $1 million and investing it in an expansion to your restaurant, as an example, is what that money would have earned in interest had you just put it in the bank.  Similarly, the cost of me going out and riding my motorcycle on a Saturday afternoon is the time I could have shared with my kids or someone else close to me.  The reverse it also true.  Time spent on such things as family obligations and so forth comes at a cost of individual freedom, personal time, etc.

The difference is that everyone’s level of value with regards to time and money is different. Some people value their time alone, be it for reflection or productive activities, whereas some people just love being in the company of others.  Value is the key word here.  Value, in economics, is not a tangible amount or number.  Rather, it is the psychological equity we place on something.  A homeless person places more value on a coat that will protect him from the elements than does a billionaire.

So it really comes down to perspective.  As the cliché goes, all things are relative.  The question is, what level of cost are you willing to endure for a valued – or more appropriately, desired – return?  I have a friend who recently underwent a surgical procedure to correct a problem she was experiencing with her sinuses.  Going into the surgery, there was the usual anxiety and headaches that arise from making sure all things are in order.  Pre-op visits, blood work, etc.  Then, following the surgery there is the typical discomfort and restlessness that comes with the recovery process. The end result, she hopes, is a better day-to-day life.  No more issues with not being able to breathe properly or feeling like her throat is swollen.  I am confident it will all be as expected, and in the long run she will look back knowing the ‘cost’ was totally worth the ‘value’ she realized.

Although that example is very clear-cut, most decisions in life are not.  I believe the reason for this comes down to faith and believing the end result is worth the cost.  “I’m not sure if I should.  I don’t know if I can.”  We all hide behind those words at times, especially when pressed for a decision.  “I need more time.  I don’t want to ruin anything.”  It’s amazing how much more simple our lives could be if only we had more faith in ourselves, in our judgment, and in the people with whom we interact.

It’s not just about risk analysis or return on investments.  It’s also about belief.  That deep, strong, inner belief that lives in our gut and just tells us without equivocation, “You can do it.  It will all be okay.”  It’s the knowledge that although the initial ‘cost’ may be painful, it is temporary and will give way to the ‘value’ we seek.  It’s okay to think about it.  It’s okay to look at it five ways from Sunday.  It’s okay to be deliberate in an attempt to be certain.  But in the end, you still have to go through with it.

The funny thing is that value is not found so much in the result of the decision, but rather in making the decision in the first place.

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