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Ah, childhood; what a time. Perhaps infancy resulted in your best, easiest days — with someone to care and decide everything for you. A period when even crayon color remained irrelevant. Regardless, we’ve mostly forgotten all of that, thanks to childhood amnesia. Now we must decide things for ourselves — a daunting responsibility powerful enough to impact our lives and others’. As the old adage goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.” What’s more powerful than cutting off or “killing” a choice?

We make decisions everyday: some a conscious effort, others subconscious. For example, you decide whether you will continue reading this article. You decide on one shirt over another, decide to procrastinate on that report, decide to keep quiet or speak up. Decisions move life forward — rippling reality in unimaginable ways for the most unexpected people. Oftentimes, we remain ignorant to our choices’ effect(s) since their magnitude varies immensely amongst us. Today, we discuss how to optimize your decisions — one of the only legal, socially-acceptable murders.

Decision Dissection

So what exactly does a decision entail? Let’s examine the following scenario:

*Person One has some free time to either stroll in a park or nap. They think about the past week — saturated with couches, coffee, and computers — forgetting whether it rained or shone sun. Perhaps they could remember if they slept more than three hours. Or maybe it has something to do with a pressure-cooker family dinner later that night.

Whatever, I’ll just sleep. It’ll take off the edge, plus it’s probably healthier…

Person One yawns, climbing into bed.*

Decisions involve three key components: the decision-maker(s), the recipient(s), and the logic.

Who’s the Boss?

Some one or some people (based on whether it’s a team or individual decision) must decide what to do and how to proceed (the above example is an individual decision, for simplicity’s sake). This person shoulders most responsibility because they ultimately choose which way to go. They affect the recipient(s) using their (decision-maker’s) logic.

On the Receiving End…

The recipient(s) typically remains powerless in the decision-making process (mind control’s still impossible, after all). Our recipient is Person One’s family, as Person One’s decision directly impacts them. Please note that I am referring to the direct recipient when dissecting decisions, since you alter that person’s life the most. Every decision affects countless people, organisms, and objects, so it is virtually impossible to account for all of them, bringing me to the third component.

Because Logic (Not the Retired Rapper)

I define logic [for this topic] in one word: why? Why do you choose this? Is it because it’s the simplest, most efficient way to accomplish your task? Because it’s beneficial to all parties involved? Because you just want to and feel spontaneous? For something else entirely? Person One decides to sleep because they believe it’s the healthier option. People typically associate “logical” with “analytical,” when the two can be mutually exclusive (in this case). I discuss direct recipients because it is inefficient to account for everybody and everything, plus impossible to ascertain a decision’s individual branched outcomes. Do what you can and allow the rest to play out for itself.

Decision Dichotomy

All By Myself

They say that one is a lonely number. They also say that it’s better to be alone than in bad company. What if I tell you it’s both, for decision-making? All work/responsibility falls on your shoulders — which proves tedious the bigger the decision. Additionally, it threatens to overwhelm, fast. That said, individual decisions liberate you. Remember the adage, “with great power comes great responsibility?” I’ve covered the responsibility part. Now, we can talk about the fun, ahem, liberating part. You get to decide what you want, or believe, what’s best for your recipient(s) (even if it’s yourself). I’ll spill a little secret: you also choose whether to accept input from others. Individual decisions seldom require them to remain individual ones. You can gather multiple people to decide, reach out and ask for help to decide, or simply decide on your own (because every decision is different). You have the ball in your court.

Teamwork is...Work?

Astounding, right? Who would think, a word with the word, “work” would require actual work? Team decisions require you to work together. This can involve a partner, family, group project, etc. Sometimes you and your team must decide unanimously, other times, majority rules. Teams allow members to share responsibility, so no one person shoulders an unwieldy burden (in theory, at least...ah, group projects). More people usually requires more coordination, because it becomes harder to find common ground/convince others (though I suppose it teaches important life skills, but that’s a topic for another article).

Size Matters

It looms over you in the dark. Heavy, breathing, and anxiety-inducing. It’s the big decision. The one that visibly alters your foreseeable future. How do you know what to do?

First things first: release those pent-up emotions because they often distort your judgement. Bigger decisions tend to offer more time, because you have more at stake, with more variables at play. However, you may need to make a split-second, lasting decision — which then relies on various smaller decisions you’ve made in the past (hence why your daily decisions prove so crucial). Regardless, time is valuable — so emotions can either help or harm the situation. Wield them with caution.