1 min read

Who makes your decisions?

Reflecting on major past decisions reveals how often our choices were influenced by others—friends, partners, family. To avoid immediate discomfort, we sometimes make choices that cause future unhappiness. This pattern, once established, of living life on others' terms, is hard to break.
Who makes your decisions?
Photo by Sivani Bandaru / Unsplash

Looking back on big decisions you’ve made in the past (where you went to school, what you studied, who you got into relationships with, where you lived, where you worked, etc.), how did you ultimately end up with those particular choices?

Most people will do some psychological acrobatics to shrug off sub-par decisions.  “It’s what made me happy,” or “It seemed like my only option at the time.”  But the reality is that there was usually a friend, or a girlfriend, or a family member that was the true determinant of the situation.  And to prevent a little unhappiness in the present, they made a bad choice that would cause a lot of unhappiness in the future.  The sad thing is that this pattern feeds on itself.  Once you get used to making decisions for your life on other people’s terms, it becomes really hard to stop.

How many people avoid good decisions simply because they don’t want to feel uncomfortable?  How many people go through life hoping to limit the number of times they felt embarrassed?  Do you really want to live with the harsh reality that every big decision you made was weighted against whether other people would judge you or not?

I know I’ve made decisions, big decisions, in the past where I was trying to please someone else or avoid a minor confrontation.  I don’t regret where I ended up; I just regret not embracing the temporary discomfort.  Because when you embrace it once, you start to get used to it.  And when you get used to it, you can do it again.  And again.

Until finally, you’re making decisions based on what you want.