There are no right or wrong decisions, there are consequences

As we transition into a new year from this tumultuous year, this is the time to make big and bold decisions. I have made several decisions in my life just like everyone else which have been classified as right or wrong. This is how we have been brought up to classify every decision we make. In school, you either pass or fail and there is no middle ground. This upbringing has influenced the way we classify everything and everyone.

I did not question this classification until recently when I embraced coaching. One of the coaching competency requirements is not to judge. A coach is taught to hold the space for the coaching clients to enable them explore and resolve their issues. We have the answers to our challenges within us, but we need to dig deep within us to find those answers through self-awareness and reflection or with the help of someone who can hold the mirror for us to see ourselves in out true colours.

The consequence of every decision we take is either we achieve the anticipated outcomes of our decision or we learn a lesson from the outcomes which we can use to improve our next decision. Both outcomes are desirable as they lay the foundation for future improvements or growth. Understanding these outcomes can be a powerful motivation for decision making which could act as an antidote to indecision or procrastination. You can imagine if we were taught this principle early in life how comfortable we will be making decisions.

I read a book recently, titled Feel the fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers which supports this assertion that there are no right or wrong decisions, there are consequences. I got the idea to write this article when someone who resigned his appointment told me he did not regret his decision despite things not working out the way he planned them and my answer as you can imagine was “there are no right or wrong decisions, there are consequences” and I will explain why, shortly. We avoid making decisions because we do not want to make “wrong” decisions, the consequence of which we avoid taking risks and missing out in life experience that lead to growth.

Classification of decisions as right or wrong leads to a situation where people become defensive and try to prove that they have made the right decision. A lot of energy is spent on try to justify being right that lessons learnt from such decisions are lost. For instance, taking a decision to leave paid employment and things not working out according to plan does not make the decision a wrong one. Instead of spending time trying to explain why the decision is the right one or feeling bad that he made a wrong decision, that time should be spent on getting the plan back on track where it missed the anticipated outcome.

We get good feelings from being right, hence we spend time and effort trying to justify our “right” decisions. To assume that remaining in employment would have been the right decision because he did not meet the outcomes he set for himself when he left employment might not be correct for various reasons. He could have been retrenched or his salary cut due to poor results. He mentioned during the conversation that he did not regret leaving paid employment because he is enjoying what he is doing which is the consequence of his decision.

The lesson here is that we make decisions everyday and we should not be spending time analysing whether the decisions we made are right or wrong. Doing so amounts to a waste of time which prevents us from moving forward. If we accept that there are no right or wrong decisions but consequences which should be examined and lesson learnt, we will be making bold decisions that will change our lives and the world. Those who know me understand that I “do not cry over spilled milk.” When my decisions do not go according to plan, I look for a way forward and move on.

Most people procrastinate or do not make big decisions in life because they are afraid they might make “wrong” decisions. If you are in that position, get the help of a coach.

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