How to Avoid Negative Emotions in Decision Making
We are the sum total of our choices and decisions. You are where you are today mostly due to the choices and decisions that you made in the past. Your decisions and choices have a significant impact on your position in life. We all make decisions every day. You make decision about the type and color of clothes to wear each day. You are actively making decisions when you get on the road to drive, you can decide to honk down at the careless driver that just cut right in front of you or just let it go. You make decision whether to follow the regulated speed limit, slow down or go faster than what is legally stipulated. You make decision during your lunch, on which restaurant you want to go to get a grub, and the type of food you want to eat. These are simple and easy decisions with no real-life impact on the choices we ended up making. Most of our everyday decisions are inconsequential and will not matter much on the final choice we made. For example, when you are getting ready for work in the morning wearing blue socks or brown socks will not matter too much.
However, we also get to make big decisions and choose from tough options from time to time in our lives. For example, your career choice can have a big impact on your personality. There are some jobs that are so demanding and will not allow you to have time for fun activities. Decision on who you will marry is very crucial to your success in life. If you are an entrepreneur, the kind of business you get involved in can also have some degree of impact on your outlook in life.
How do you make your decisions? Do you let fear dictate your choices? Do you often run towards what is seemingly safe and easy for you? Do you make decisions based on your conviction and what you truly desire? To live a fulfilled and satisfactory life, you need to start making decisions based on what you truly want and not what you don’t want. Many people consciously or otherwise choose what they do not want because they made choices based on negative emotions. I once met a guy at a function and we got talking. During our discussion, this gentleman expressed to me that what he desired most in life was to start and run his own business. This was a good ambition in my opinion and a very commendable one at that. I asked him about the steps he had taken so far towards the life he desired. He responded that he could not make up his mind on how to start a business. He had not made up his mind on the type of business he would like to run, he had not talked to a mentor that can guide him on his plans. He had not started any side hustle to test run his business idea. For over five years that he has had the ambition, he did not take any step that will turn his desires into reality.
Just like this guy, most people find it difficult to make tough decisions. They instead do nothing and just continue on a safe path. They are hindered by negative emotions that kept them from actualizing their goals. To combat “analysis-paralysis” and be able to make the right choices when you faced difficult options, you need to overcome some negative emotions.
Here are some negative emotions that you need to overcome when making decisions:
- Delay:It is good to gather all necessary information and educate yourself on your options, but never go into analysis-paralysis mode that will generate more confusion making it more difficult to make up your mind on what you need to do. There are some choices that are worth putting on hold for a while to ponder upon before making any final decision, but you must make sure that you are thinking about the choices and when the time comes you should have the confidence to make the call on how you want to move forward. Delay in decision making can be dangerous sometimes and it can leave you with unpalatable choices when you wait too long making you miss the window of opportunity. This was the case of an acquaintance of mine, he wanted to buy a house. After about three months of searching and reviewing multiple homes, he finally found one. He was supposed to put in an offer so that the seller can take the property off the market, but he couldn’t make up his mind on whether he got a good deal or not. He took about three days before he decided to get back to his realtor that he was ready to move forward and purchase the property. By that time, another person had made an offer on the property. Needless to say, this fellow missed buying the property, and the interest rate went up, six months down the line he is yet to find any other property as good as the one he missed.
- Fear:Making choices out of fear is as equally dangerous as delaying decision making. Many people let fear dictate their choices. This can cause people to make decisions either too fast because of the fear that they might miss out on opportunities, or too slow because of the uncertainties of what their choices will bring. When you let fear dictate your actions you will often take too long to act. You take too long to make an offer on a piece of property. You take too long to ask the right woman to marry you. You take too long to make a career move. You take too long to submit a business proposal. You take too long to invest in the market. You are fearful of making mistakes in your choices forgetting that you are an imperfect being and that mistake is part of the learning process. I have come to realize that most of the regrets that we will have in life is that of inactions rather than what we acted upon. There will always be fear when you are making big decisions, but the right thing to do is to move forward in spite of the fear.
I know it can be terrifying to make decisions to later realize that we made the wrong choice, yet the possibility of being wrong should not stop us from still making our choices because we will be denying ourselves of new experiences if we don’t move forward. Here are some tricks that will help you break the stronghold of fear in your life:
- Develop a value system. Create a set of requirements for the kind of life that you want. For example, if you are the type that does not like traveling, if you get a job offer that require you to travel 80% of the time, you should turn down such job based on your value system.
- Learn to trust yourself: The major reason why decision making can be difficult sometime is because of the possibility of making mistakes. Learning to trust your sense of judgement will help you in future decision making. Start small and build confidence in your ability to make right calls.
- Risk is a two-sided coin: You want to quit your job to start your business, but you are being held back by the thought of failing in business. You have read about the statistics that 50% of businesses failed in the first four year. Look at the other side of the coin. What if you succeed?
- Ignorance:People perish for lack of knowledge so says the Bible. Many people make their choices out of sheer ignorance. They live in low class part of town because they thought that is where they ought to live. They attend certain types of schools based on wrong information that they cannot get into Ivy League colleges. They worship in specific church because they have conditioned their mind that there are no other good alternatives around. They choose to marry from their race simply because they do not understand that people from other races can be loving and caring as well. They make their choices based on wrong information that has been passed down to them for generations.
You can make a change. Break out from the mold and myopic vision that has constrained you for many years. You can be more and achieve more. You can make more uplifting decisions. You just have to think outside the box.
- Excuse:My child is in school, I am too busy juggling multiple tasks, so I cannot go back to school. I am too busy with multiple activities, I will not have the time to start my business. I am the chief organizer in my community, so I do not have the time to read books. These and many more excuses are what people use daily to get away from important things that they need to do claiming that they are too busy. Some have other type of excuse such as they are not qualified enough, they do not have the right education, or their skin color will deter them from attaining certain positions in the society. They make choices based on excuses and thereby putting limits to what they can achieve in life.
You can start moving forward towards the life you most desire by not letting excuses drive you in to making safe choices all the time.
- Anxiety:Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. If you constantly live in anxiety, your decision-making process will be affected as well. You will make flawed decisions when you are under too much tension. People make all sorts of wrong calls when they panic because of events around them. This was exactly the case in the 2008 financial crisis in America when American household lost trillions of dollars as a result of panic and anxiety that later spread all over the world. People were dumping their shares, selling their homes and other properties as if the world was coming to an end. Do not make your choice when you are anxious. Take your time, think, and take a deep breath before you make any decision.
Decisions that you make can make or mar you. Avoid making decisions based on negative emotions.