Don’t make decisions based only on where you are; make decisions based on where you want to be. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is quoted as saying, “We are not a product of our circumstances, we are a product of our decisions.”
Your circumstances do play a part in your future, but only to ground you as you decide what to do next.
Jonathan Schaeffer, the creator of computer chess programs, calculated that there are 197,742 different ways that the players in a chess match could play their first two moves. When you expand that to the first three moves the possible outcomes becomes 121 million. In chess, as in life, your decisions don’t end when you first decide, but continue through each step as you evaluate what’s next.
When faced with choices, before you decide, commit to settle for nothing less than knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Today we have the ability to receive more information than at any time in history. Take care to evaluate what you know before deciding where to go.
“It is the brain, the little gray cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within – not without.” – Agatha Christie’s famous detective Hercule Poirot
Invest the time it takes to be the best. How long should you think and evaluate options before you decide? It depends on the potential impact of the decision and the level of experience you have in the area. A greater chance of impact and a lesser degree of experience require more time. Stay with it until you feel that you have the ability to make the best decision possible.
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”– Albert Einstein
Pay attention to how the facts fit together. The first step in decision making is a knowledge of the facts. Next comes an understanding of why the facts are what they are. Most important is to obtain the wisdom to apply what you now know and understand to make the best decision possible. This comes from broadening your view through other people and other similar decisions that have been made.
“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” Marilyn vos Savant
Profit from your analysis. You will never have all the answers needed to make a perfect decision. Don’t let that stop you from asking as many questions as reasonable to make the best decision possible.
“I don’t pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about.” – Arthur C. Clarke