To Do or Not To Do?

Arrow left and arrow rightHi Everybody! It has been a little while since I have written a post. Sorry for the long break. I have been extremely busy completing my honors degree in psychology. The year is finally over and I have graduated (woohoo!). Thanks to all who have participated. I promise to write about my honors research very soon. In any case, I have been bursting with ideas for posts so I thought I would put in a quick one about decision making for your reading pleasure.

In a number of settings in my life, I have been faced with the dilemma of whether to do something or to do nothing. If you have ever needed to decide between doing something or not, you know that this can be a tough choice. Maybe you’re not sure what the consequences will be if you do or you are worried that you will miss out if you don’t.

The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision
– Maimonides

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go
– T. S. Eliot

You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try – you don’t take the risk
– Rosalynn Carter

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary
– Jim Rohn

Street sign saying right, wrong and decisionA friend of mine by the name of Anna says that if you are faced with this sort of dilemma and you are not sure what to do, the best thing to do is nothing. She thinks the consequences are just too unpredictable and you are clearly not 100% confident of positive results. She thinks it is better to wait for another opportunity where you are sure that doing is better than not doing. In this way, you don’t have to live with the consequences of making a bad decision. Your lack of decision has made sure everything around you stays the same, ready for the next opportunity to come along.

Another friend of mine, Kelly, says, “Just do it, what have you got to lose?”. She thinks you will probably never find yourself in this situation again. If you do nothing, you could miss an opportunity and would have to wait for luck to bring another one your way. If you do it, even if it does not work out, you know that you tried your best and it just was not meant to be.

Whichever camp you are in, the point is not to make the ‘right’ choice 100% of the time. It is simply to make ‘a’ choice. To take the risk and to learn from it.

Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins
– Charles Stanley

I am sure you have found yourselves in similar situations. Maybe someone in your workplace did something you disagreed with and you were deliberating whether to bring it up with them or not. Or you were offered a project which was a great opportunity, but the timing was a bit off and you were tossing up whether to take it or not. As children, we come across these situations often. Do we speak up when we know the answer in class? If we see a cute guy across the room, do we go over and say ‘hi’?

Sadly, I am of the very indecisive sort. I can see the benefits and the drawbacks of both the doing and the not doing. I could deliberate for days about the most ridiculously small things. As children are known to do (even older children like me), I turn to my parents in such times. And as always, they have wisdom to share.

Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing
– Denis Waitley

The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks
– Mark Zuckerberg

Regardless of what my final decision is, my parents always said that the most important thing is to be OK and at peace with whatever it is that I have decided to do. They have always taught me that whether I choose to do or not to do, it is the right choice.

It is better not to try to be a fortuneteller. Life is not meant to be predictable. If I make my choice and am OK with it, I will give it my all and it will turn out for the best. Sometimes I might regret my decision (whether it be the doing or the not doing), but like my friend Kelly says, I might never find myself in a situation like this again, and I might never have known how it would turn out. If I accept my decision, I will also accept the outcomes. And I will always learn something from it, about myself and about life.

Man contemplatingYou might be thinking, “Why are you telling me this?”. And the reason is because children grow up, and the older we get, the more decisions we have to make on our own. And it is nerve wracking. The confidence we have in our decisions, and the feeling that we have made the ‘right’ choice comes from Mom and Dad.

Maybe our parents are the safe, non-doing kind, and we can be confident that by doing nothing we make the ‘right’ choice. Or our parents might be the gutsy, doing kind, and we can be confident that doing is the way to go. No matter which way we go, our parents’ confidence in us and in our ability to make good choices gives us confidence in ourselves. It gives us the feeling that we can trust our instincts and that no matter what we decide, we made the ‘right’ choice.

In making decision, like in all other things in life, us children learn from our parents.

Happy parenting,