You Don’t Have to Lie in the Bed You Made

“You’ve made your bed, now lie in it,” is fatalistic and final. Yes, deal with consequences but don’t lie in them.

All decisions are imperfect because information is incomplete and results are uncertain.

Decisions:

#1. Decisions are future-building activities. Even the decision to repeat the past builds the future.

#2. Decisions establish trajectory. A decision that doesn’t establish trajectory is a fantasy.

#3. Decisions eliminate options. You said NO to other opportunities when you decided to read this article, marry your spouse, or take your current position.

#4. Decisions are both emotional and logical. We look for logical support after making emotional decisions.

Returning to the stink:

The good ole days mock your struggle. Judging the past by the present distorts perception and limits the future.

Longing for the good ole days only happens when the past stinks less than the present. 

Current challenges and frustrations create the illusion that things were better back then. But like a mother holding a newborn, you forget the pain that got you here.

Reflecting on the past provides ‘retrospective knowledge’.

Knowledge of history feels stable. But past decisions are evaluated based on selective recollection.

Acknowledgement: The past could have been better than the present. 

4 decision-making tips:

  1. Give yourself space to change your mind. Explain your decision to a colleague before you take action. Sometimes you don’t know how you feel until after you decide.
  2. Imagine the future.
    • Where will you be in a year if you don’t make this decision?
    • What will be true in one year if you make this decision and it goes horribly wrong?
  3. Consider reactions. Decisions are reactions to disappointment, pain, or opportunity.
    • How much weight are you giving to the thing you’re reacting to?
    • How might reactions be driving you sideways? Ahead?
  4. What are you willing to let go?

What decision-making strategies work best for you?