Words by c.z.robertson

Making decisions

2006-10-01 22:15:44 GMT/BST

Some thoughts on making decisions:

In general, it's better to make a decision than to avoid making a decision. There are two types of circumstances that can surround not making a decision. Suppose someone invites you to a party and you're not sure whether you want to go. In this situation, failing to make a decision means that eventually you won't go. There's a default choice, and avoiding the decision is equivalent to choosing the default, only without the explicit evaluation.

The other type of circumstance is that in which a failure to make a decision results in nothing happening. Suppose you want to redecorate your living room. You have to choose the colour you want to paint the room. If you don't make that choice then you can't go out and buy the paint and the room won't get decorated. That's a situation in which the project simply stalls if you avoid making the decision.

So making the decision is almost certainly better than avoiding the decision.

One of my favourite techniques for making a decision is to ask myself what the person I'd like to be would do. It's pretty much the same as the "what would Jesus do?" approach, except that it works for atheists too (and I imagine that it's slightly lower pressure than trying to emulate a divine being).

Where there's a problem of simple indecision, I like to toss a coin or roll a dice. If I'm really indifferent about the outcome then it's fine -- whichever result I get is acceptable. Sometimes, though, I find myself wanting to toss the coin again to get the other answer. Then I realise that I've really made my decision without even knowing it.