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I think most people have this decision-making thing wrong.
How do you make a decision?
Most people will tell you they examine the benefits and disadvantages of options, and weigh them up. Some will consult with friends, family or other trusted people. They’ll take advice from a variety of sources. They’ll accept some, reject some and fudge their ideas accordingly. They’ll ponder, and then come to a decision based on those factors.
I think that’s a lot of crap.
We all make decisions with our hearts, not our heads. We decide based on what we want, and then we “justify” the conclusions by creating “rational” explanations for them.
A case in point, to illustrate.
I had a friend, Sasha, who was unhappy in his job. He looked back fondly on his university days, and decided he wished to return to them. So he came up with a plan that involved ditching his job, using his payout to pay for a new PC, and returning to university.
When he presented this plan to his friends, they argued against his plan. He’d failed uni before due to lack of commitment, there was no reason things would be different this time around. He’d gotten used to living on $30K, he’d hate living on $8K. We had plenty of reasons it wouldn’t work, and as his friends, we tried to advise him against it.
Sasha did it anyway of course. Six months later, he was broke, unemployed, failing uni, and more depressed than he was before the story began.
From observing this at close quarters though, I realised something. None of the counter-arguments that I and Sasha’s other friends had put up had the slightest chance of dissuading him. Because the reasons he was putting forward weren’t real. They were just the cover-story. Even if our arguments were strong, they’d not win the day, because the decision was made. We were simply debating the window-dressing he’d put on the decision. The real issue was his dissatisfaction with his work.
Now, more than ten years on, I’m convinced that all people do this, with almost all decisions. Especially the more major decisions in their lives.
I am not exempt from this. So when I sit here writing about my reasons for leaving Jerusalem, and returning to Rome, I’m trying to differentiate from the real motivations, and the window-dressing. Mostly because I’m past needing window-dressing. I don’t really have to justify my decisions to anyone. So there’s no need to apply window-dressing to the reasons behind my actions.

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One Comment

  1. This is a great post! It made my think about the layers of factors to consider when making decisions– thanks!


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  1. […] Free Will & Window Dressing […]

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