The art of decision-making

I am a twenty-something years old who is not exactly sure where life is going and who is too afraid to make important life decisions because making a choice A means saying no to choice B and C and D. This is what scares me and what has brought me to write this post.

Having a lot of choice is good, supposedly, especially in this consumer-focused twenty-first century western society. Free-market economy supports infinite choice. I mean the simplest example is going to a store to buy a pack of oats. I am crazy about an oatmeal in the morning. I cannot start my day without that delicious, warm and creamy bowl of oats. And yet even when I go to a store to buy a simple pack of instant oats, I have to choose between 5 different brands of “pure” (no other ingredients added) instant oats. Then I also have the choice between rolled oats and oats with dried fruits and barley oats and more bullshit added oats that, to be frank, makes little to no difference. The point I am trying to make here is that today we are surrounded with choice. Everyday we are obliged to make our decision, instantly and about the most basic things (like oats). This is both exciting and extremely stressful.

Having infinite choice about almost anything freaks the hell out of me. And this is especially because with regards to more serious things such as a choice of a life partner, a career path, a university degree, a country to settle, the choice that we make has (1) a causal effect and (2) we are confronted with the scenarios of other choices. Firstly, when I say, that a choice has a causal effect, I mean that the choice that we make (or do not make) can and does influence the other choices coming our way. I think of it as tree branches. At point X, i have a choice between branch 1, 2 and 3. I select branch 2 and based on this, I will soon be confronted with choice between branch 2a and 2b. Again I make my decision, selecting 2b. At another point, I will have to pick between 2b(i) and 2b(ii) and 2b(iii) and 2b (iv). But what would happen if at point X, I would pick branch 1 instead of branch 2? How would the quality of my life differ?

And this is where social media (and my point 2) comes in. Social media gives us a very clear (although, arguably, distorted) view of how our life could have looked like if we picked branch 1 instead of branch 2. Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and so on, give us a glimpse into the life of those people that, at some point, made a different choice to ours. For instance, let’s say at point X, I had to pick between dating Steve and staying single and enjoying my 20s to the fullest. I picked the second option and stayed single- afraid to not miss out on this crazy university life. On social media, I then see some peer my age who, when presented with a similar decision, picked to date Steve or Dave or Amy. On instagram, I see that peer enjoying their vacation with their other half in Bali, sunbathing in the sun. And I am back at home, alone on a Friday night swiping left and right on Tinder.

You see what I mean? And this is exactly where my indecisiveness comes from. It is from this fear of making a wrong choice.

What I find difficult to acknowledge and accept is that NOT making a choice is in fact making a choice. And it is probably the worst scenario, as it is making the choice to not pick anything and leaving your faith to the invisible hand, to “whatever happens”. This is both disturbing and quite dangerous.

From now onwards then, the motivation should be to make some sort of a choice, even if you cannot really justify it rationally. Just make some sort of decision, instead of leaving it all to “faith”.