If I were to make a list of things which I desperately wish to escape from, ‘Decision making’ would easily grab the position on top. No matter how sure we think we are, there are always some things that make us think twice. Having a test the next day and asking yourself to satisfy the never ending urge to spend five more minutes with your phone, sitting in a cafe with a page-long menu only to choose between cold coffee and cappuccino (has always been the hardest for me), standing in front of the chat shop across the street wondering if you should go for a plate of pani-puri or bhel, ordering your priority chart efficiently - such dilemmas never cease to exist, do they? But these are some of the most trivial ones. The significance our decisions can have is tremendous.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
These lines are from one of my favourite poems, ‘The Road not Taken’. The message he tries to convey is that the choices we make and the paths we choose determine what our future would look like. Isn’t that what makes it so hard and sometimes even scary? When imposed with a choice, unless luckily one of them is impelling enough to cross out the rest, there goes the race of the different possibilities like branches from a tree trunk. Only, it seems like this is an endlessly growing tree. Such situations make us wonder if Hobson’s choices (choices where only one thing is offered) are boons in disguise.
“I am not very good at making decisions.” I have heard many use this as an excuse, including myself. But what is it an excuse from? Is it from the trouble of making the hard choices or from facing the consequences? If it is from either, let me tell you, we have been fooling ourselves. And I say so because, by refusing to make a decision, we decide not to decide and that is not going to make the task in hand any easier. Leaving things hanging or letting someone else choose for you only makes it harder. Making our own decisions and taking responsibility for the same is better than playing victim for someone else’s, isn’t it?
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Who decides what the ‘right thing’ to do is in any situation? If there was one right way, and if we were taught what it is, we would be nothing but mere programmed robots. The world isn’t black and white. There are so many shades of grey in between, that they could make our heads spin! It is all about perspectives. The whole concept of perceptual thinking is fascinating. Isn’t it beautiful how almost every individual has a different view of the world and how maybe a new perspective could possibly change all of it? So I’ve always believed that we define what’s right for us and that, we do so with the help of all the good, bad and everything in between that we’ve been taught, by people and by life.
“Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest”
Being able to look at things with different eyes and an open mind is an art to be developed along the way. It’s good to try and learn more to understand what a different perspective looks like. We don’t want our thought processes confined to a small box, do we?
Our decisions may not prove to be the best the first time, but that’s completely fine. Did we forget that it is human to err? It’s important to understand that a bad decision is not a mistake. It perhaps becomes one only when we ignore the lessons which follow. A bad decision paves way to lessons, that in turn paves way to a better decision and to becoming a better person, which definitely does sound like a good deal.
Whatever said and done, when on the edge, even the strongest of us get the shivers. When in a struggle to choose, examine your options, weigh their pros and cons, accept opinions if you feel that’ll help and most importantly, breathe without losing your cool. Take some time if needed for a little self-talk. Trust me, it is hard to find a better listener than yourself, especially in times like those. Ask yourself what you believe the right thing to do is and if it keeps up with the morals and values you uphold. If it does, I think you are good to go. And in situations where time doesn’t permit much probing, follow the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Trust instinct to the end, even though you can give no reason.” There are no written steps or rules for the process and no matter how unfit we think we are, every one of us has in us what it takes to make that decision at that point of time.
When we see that it's better to believe that we got this and take that step forward regardless of what the consequences might be, we would realise that taking responsibility isn’t that scary after all and that it’s going to make you proud sometime soon. As for me, I just hope I don’t spend an eternity choosing between cold coffee and cappuccino.