Decision Making: Too Hot, Too Cold, or Just Right?

Well, here we are again…another New Year. 

And I know you’ve been hearing a lot about New Year’s resolutions and such. Actually, what I think might be more helpful is some ideas about how to make decisions. Good decisions. 

Because you’re going to be making them for the rest of your life, and the consequences of what you decide will shape the course of your life. 

Tony Evans said it this way, “You can choose your choices. Or you can choose your consequences.” You just can’t choose both.

 So, first, get rid of any inclination that you can avoid making a decision. Making no choice is making a choice. When it comes your turn to decide, “I pass” is just not one of your available options.

So, while there are no perfect decisions, we can continuously improve the quality of the process by which we make decisions.

So let’s take a look at two extremes and then zero in on the preferred approach.

The first extreme might be the “Too hot” approach. Some decisions we make too quickly. Others with too much emotion or not enough thought. When your decision-making process is too hot, it usually means that you are reacting to something, or more precisely, being controlled by that reaction. 

On the other hand, there is the “Too cold” approach. Other decisions are made too slowly. Procrastination rules the day because we don’t want to make a choice. Rather than not enough thought, the “too cold” approach over-thinks a decision. Whether afraid or ambivalent or apathetic, we delay pulling the trigger on a decision. The result is that that decision effectively is made for us, either by others or by the circumstances that we allow to transpire. 

So, why don’t this year we try the “Just right” approach. Good decision making takes into account many important factors at the same time. A great analogy is the 2 to 3 seconds a quarterback has in a game of football to decide what to do during a pass play.

Once the ball is snapped, the quarterback is looking at both his own players and those of the opposing team. Some of those players are “covering” the quarterback’s own teammates, attempting to prevent them from catching any pass thrown in their direction. Other opposing players weigh about 300 pounds and are lumbering at full speed toward the quarterback, hoping against hope they can catch him this time and separate one part of his body from another

A good quarterback is hyper aware of time: he only has a few precious seconds to decide.  

He must be aware of risks: some opposing players want to intercept passes; others just want to use the quarterback as a trampoline.

The quarterback has to know what is most valuable to him at this time: does his team need a first down? Do they need to advance the ball a long way in this one play, or do they have several plays left? Is he trying to score a touchdown, or simply position his team to kick a field goal?

It’s not a bad set of questions to ask yourself: 

What’s important now? What is the most valuable thing to me at this time in the game of life for me? 

What are the risks and how do I avoid them? Don’t try to avoid all risks – you’re never going to leave your house in the morning if you have that attitude. Decide which ones are worth taking to gain what’s important to you now.

How much time do I have in the game? None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. But you can check the averages. If you’re in the early stages of the game, you may be willing to take greater risks, knowing that you’ve got time to make up for any losses. If you are late in the game, and you’ve got unfinished business, you may choose to take few risks for different reasons.

At the end of life, few people regret what they have done. Most regret what they haven’t done.

So, which risk are you most willing to take?

Well, it’s time to decide.

Offering you Wisdom on Wealth, I’m Byron Moore.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

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