THE ART OF WISE DECISIONS
How many decisions has your family made this week? I’ll bet the answer is twenty or more:
- Is it safe to go back to the public playgrounds yet?
- Is there time to walk the dog before vacuuming?
- Are we having salad or seafood tonight?
- Which bedtime story do you want to hear?
The options for “want-to-dos” and “should-dos” can quickly burst all time boundaries. Before you decide to go crazy, go over a few criteria for discerning the best decision. (Thanks to Rick Warren, author and pastor, for creating the blog post series the following list was based on.)
Does This Option Coincide With Our Values?
Under stress, an amazing number of people grab the most expedient option, regardless of whether it matches what they say they believe in. Don’t get into this habit, or someday soon you’ll be wondering how you made such a mess of things. (One “too small to matter” decision after another, that’s how.)
Would I Do This If I Knew That Others Would Learn About It?
The decision that violates your personal values has an even blacker sheep of a sibling: the decision that rationalizes violating basic integrity. Especially when you have children to set an example for, remember that asking them to tell “little white lies” for you is encouraging them to lie to you.
Will This Option Help Me Become a Better Person?
Does it cultivate patience and diligence? Does it present opportunities to develop your natural skills for everyone’s good?
Are There “Too Much of a Good Thing” Risks?
You hear it said of some people that “he just lives for golf” or “she lives only for getting ahead at the office.” There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a favorite leisure activity—or your job—but life is out of balance if anything dominates your time and thoughts to the point you neglect relationships or self-care.
What Effect Will This Decision Have on Others?
Even wholesome things can be bad choices if:
- They keep you from being where you’re needed;
- They present unhealthy temptation to others (e. g., pouring a glass of wine in front of someone who struggles with alcoholism);
- Doing them sends the message “I don’t care how you feel” (e. g., talking on the phone during a family outing).
Is This Really the Best Use of My Time?
If you’re a person who gets mostly stress and self-doubt from trying too hard to pick the one right option, you needn’t spend too long on this one. But before committing to an activity, give it this quick review:
- Is it productive and interesting?
- Will I be freshly energized upon finishing it?
- Will it require any long-term commitment? Will that commitment have sufficient long-term benefit to be worthwhile?
And remember: while it may feel painful to discard a good option completely, it hurts worse—and accomplishes less good—when you say “yes” to everything and wind up rushing through everything.
Teach your children, as well as yourself, the art of wise decision-making while you have this opportunity to influence young minds. Make the decision now to keep that commitment high on your priority list!