H

F. W. Boreham wrote, “There is no intellectual stimulant so intoxicating as the formation of a noble purpose, the conception of a sudden resolve, the making of a great decision.”

Did you make a great decision today? How many decisions did you make today? One “expert” claims the typical person makes about 673. Accurate or not, we all make more decisions than we realize. And every one of those decisions shapes who you are. 

The decisions you make will make you! They reveal your character and core values, and ultimately form your reputation.

What’s the greatest hindrance to wise decisions? Negative emotions.

You’ve likely heard the adage: “Do not make a permanent decision based upon temporary emotion.” There are times I wish I had remembered that advice, as I’ve made a few rash decisions based on an emotional reaction. And the results were not good.

Wise decisions require intentionality, deliberate thought, and stable emotions. So wise decisions follow steady emotions and constructive actions follow wise decisions.  

Anger-based Decisions

Have you ever disciplined your children with a time-out? Perhaps we as parents also need time-outs. Wise parents ensure they are settled and free of anger before disciplining their child. Most parents, including myself, can think of occasions when they have spoken words to a child based on frustration or anger. Those words can deeply wound a child. Adults must learn to control, not just their emotions, but their response to those emotions.

One hockey league instituted a policy whereby they will not take a complaint against an official or a coach until after 24 hours.  After the policy was applied, complaints declined by 60%. As the saying goes “cooler heads prevailed”.

Whether in the workplace or the home, anger-based decisions can be permanent and disastrous. That doesn’t mean we should never get angry. But we must be careful how we respond. Let’s say you’re angry about something at work and you blurt out “I quit!” Once those words are uttered it’s usually too late to take them back. If you’re lucky, your supervisor will give you time to cool off and re-consider. But more often than not, the consequences are more difficult to live with than the issues you were facing.

In marriage, “I’m leaving” spoken in anger will do painful and permanent damage. In that moment, trust will be broken, and it may be very difficult to rebuild it.

Fear-based Decisions

Financial setbacks and crisis are a main cause of fear, whether in individuals, families, or companies. It’s normal to feel fear and anxiety if you lose your job or face the prospect of losing your home or business. And if you’re the primary wage-earner in your home, your spouse’s anxiety will intensify your fear. Instead of making a rash fear-based decision that could lead to worse problems, take time to talk it over with your family and trusted friends. A good time for a time-out. You may benefit from discussing it with a financial adviser. These actions will lower your stress, calm your emotions, and position you to find positive solutions.

Impatience-based Decisions

Impatience is a huge problem for many of us when making decisions. We live in a micro-wave culture. Power level 10 – push button – voila, done in 42 seconds. Very few problems are solved with a microwave decision. A crisis may require a quick decision – but it still demands that it be fact based not emotion based. Remind yourself of the adage: “Do not make a permanent decision based upon temporary emotion.”

Most decisions do not require an immediate decision so take time before acting, time to things through. The rewards, I am sure, will be appreciated.

3 tips for Wise Decisions

-Consider the permanence of the decision

Always ask these questions: Is this decision permanent? What will be the long-term consequences of this decision? How will it affect my family, my future, and my reputation?

-Consult a team

Whether it’s a personal decision or involves your business, a team approach has major strengths. Seek ideas from trusted people around you. Going it alone is dangerous. Even Lone Ranger had a trusted adviser.

-Choose a positive attitude

I have had to work on developing a positive attitude. Many times, I reacted to situations with the attitude, “There’s probably no solution.” That sometimes caused me to fail or quit rather than seek solutions. Ask yourself questions to better understand the problem. Then choose the attitude: every problem has a solution. If you believe there is a solution to every problem, it will be much easier to find it.

What decisions will you make today?