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Cartoon: CEO flips coin while secretary asks if he has made a decision about the $2.3 billion ACME merger

Need to Make a Decision? Just Decide and Take Pride

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

Do you have difficulties making decisions? If so, here's a super, simple trick for you: just decide and take pride! That's it, just make a decision and take pride in it. It's easy.

Allow me to seemingly diverge for a moment. Imagine you are driving at the speed limit on the motorway. Your partner is in the car with you. As you approach a tunnel, a small child walks onto the road immediately in front of you. You slam your foot on the brakes, but the child is so close, it won't make much difference. Do you go straight, and hit the child, or do you swerve, causing you to hit the edge of the tunnel wall. People will almost certainly die. But who will it be: the child or you and your partner?

Have you ever had to make a decision like that before? I hope not! Fortunately, most decisions have far less dire consequences. So, don't get worked up about them. Just decide and take pride.

Fear of Making the Wrong Decision

Fear of making the wrong decision, of making a mistake, is often the culprit when you cannot decide. Yet so many decisions are largely trivial. You and your partner want to go out to dinner, but you cannot decide between Thai, Italian or Spanish food.

Does it matter? Does it really bloody matter? None of these choices will have dire consequences! No one will die no matter what you choose. The worst case scenario is that you go out for a Thai dinner which is not as spicy as you like. Then, you go home and check Facebook where you see that an annoying friend has been out for Italian food and posted pictures of each dish. Worse, she got a dozen likes on the pictures.

Did she make a better decision than you? Probably not. If your friend's dinner was so dull that she was taking pictures of it rather than eating it or having a deep conversation with her dining partner, that is not something to envy! That is something to pity!

Moreover, a dinner out with your partner, a good friend or a new date should not just be about the food. It should be more about the company. So, don't worry if the Green Curry is not as nice as the pizza you could have had if you had decided differently. Appreciate the marvellous company that is sharing the meal with you. And if the food or service are crap, don't worry. Have a laugh aboutt it together.

Looking to buy a new car, but cannot decide between a Nissan or a Toyota? Just decide and take pride. Both are fine cars. Neither is likely to make you unhappy. If you choose the Nissan, don't get envious when your friend shows off her new Toyota. Take pride in your decision and your new car. 

Cannot decide whether to go hiking in Montenegro or exploring in Rome for your upcoming holiday? I've done both and both are great. Just decide and take pride. Neither decision will make you unhappy unless you decide to be unhappy. Moreover, if you choose one this year, you can most likely do the other next year. So, it's not even like you are losing out!

More Complex Decisions

More complex decisions often require more thought and some decisions do not really have any nice options. For example, you lose a well paying job when your company goes bankrupt in a bad economy. You know that it will take time to find a new job and that any new job might not pay as well as the old job. You will need to reduce your expenditures, possibly sell the house in a bad market and convince your family to live more simply. That will mean a lot of difficult decisions.

In scenarios like this, you need to work with your family, work out what your priorities are, what your values are and what you absolutely need. Base your decisions on these factors. Then take the difficult decisions and bear in mind two things: firstly, your situation will probably improve eventually and, secondly, you will adjust to a less comfortable standard of living. You will even find some benefits to your new lifestyle. Happiness is not exclusive to having a big house and expensive clothes. The wellbeing of yourself and your family should play a far more important role in your happiness.

So, once again, I say: "Just decide and take pride." Being miserable because your living is less luxurious than it used to be is not going to help you cope with your new situation. Taking pride in how you overcame a bad situation, made decisions and are thriving in a new situation will help. Taking pride in how well your family has adjusted will help.

Doing Nothing Is a Decision

When you fail to make a decision, you are still effectively making a decision: a decision to do nothing. If you cannot decide between going out for Thai, Italian or Spanish food, you are choosing not to go out. Eventually, you will have to decide what to cook at home. If you cannot decide what to cook, you are making a decision to go to bed hungry. That is not a decision to take pride in. So, just decide and take pride.

Business Decisions

Business decisions trouble many middle managers who are reluctant to take the responsibility for their decisions in fear that, if they make the wrong choice, they will be held responsible and, as a result, lose out on promotion, be dismissed or be taken outside by security and shot.

So, instead of making a decision, the indecisive middle manager calls meetings to collect information and to get other people to buy into her decision hoping to spread responsibility and minimise personal risk. She hopes that the situation will change and save her from actually having to make a decision.

But, the truth is, being indecisive does not impress anyone and it won't get you promoted. It is better to make it a habit to decide and take pride.

Even if you do make a decision and it goes wrong, you will impress people more by saying, "It was my decision and I take responsibility for it," than you will by saying "It was all Roberta's fault. She told me to do it."

It is better still, when a decision goes wrong, to work out how to make it right, or at the very least, how to minimise the consequences. Doing so, of course, requires making more and often difficult decisions: "Do I kill the project?", "Do I seek more budget?", "Do I take enthusiastic people out of the project?". You will need again to just decide and take pride.

We admire decisive people

Last, but not least, bear in mind that we admire decisive people. Leaders are leaders in part because they can and do just decide and take pride.

If you are going on a date with someone who interests you, you are more like to impress her with respectful decisiveness than with indecisiveness. By all means, ask her what kind of food she would like to eat; that's respectful good manners. But if she says, "whatever you want," then just decide and take pride. Your date will hopefully be more interested in you than in the food, anyway. She'll certainly be impressed with your decisiveness.

And if the decision does not work out and the food was a disappointment? Don't worry. Few decisions are as final as the example I gave at the beginning of this article. If you and your dinner date decide that the Italian restaurant you went to was not so nice, that's a perfect excuse to suggest you try a lovely Spanish restaurant on your next date, say this Friday at eight?

No Regrets

The important aspect of just decide and take pride is to take pride. Do not regret your decision unless it hurt someone. If you choose Thai food, don't spend the evening thinking that Spanish food would have been nicer. If you buy the Nissan, don't fantasise about how much nicer the Toyota would have been. If you chose to go hiking in Montenegro, don't envy your friend who went to Rome. Instead, take pride in your decisions. Very likely your friend who went to Rome envies your hiking holiday in Montenegro. Very possibly the friend who bought a Toyota envies your Nissan. Surely everyone in that disappointing restaurant was envious of your and your dinner date who seemed to be having such fun in spite of the mediocre food.

To sum up: If you've got a decision to make, don't sweat it. Just decide and take pride.


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