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The Secret to a Successful Life? Have Zero Tolerance for Wrong Decisions

The Secret to a Successful Life? Have Zero Tolerance for Wrong Decisions

Life is full of decisions. Whether we choose this over that, we make a decision and its impact comes afterwards. From time to time, we encounter situations where we need to make a decision. And the decision could have led us to fortune or failure.

Meet Joe Green,[1] the former roommate of Mark Zuckerberg, the current CEO and founder of the Facebook. Instead of dropping out of the university with his roommate to work on building a potential social networking site, he listened to his father’s suggestion to focus on his studies and obtain his degree.

Well, he had never realised this seemingly rational decision would cost him $100 billion, the current valuation of Facebook. What if he followed his gut feeling and took a more risky path? It would be an entirely different story!

Decision making is the most important life skill we should keep improving. Whether we are successful or happy in life is determined by the right decisions we make consistently.

And most importantly, there’s a way to do it!

Common Struggle: Should I Trust My Gut Feeling or Make Careful Calculations for the Right Decision

We all have times struggling to make a decision, especially the important ones. And we are usually caught at a crossroads, wondering whether we should trust our gut feeling or make careful calculations to draw the conclusion.

Most often, we believe that logical reasoning can bring us to the right destination.

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But while we’re trying so hard to make the RIGHT decisions, isn’t it more important to take a step back and ask ourselves: can the reliance on logical thinking help us make the decisions BEST for us?

No, indeed.

Imagine you’ve got some really good grades in public examinations. Logical reasoning would tell you to pursue degrees like law and medicine, based on the expectation that these professional qualifications could bring us to a brighter future.

However, despite that it could be true financial-wise, we are overlooking our interest and whether we will be enjoying our study in those fields. Ultimately, we may earn a lot (if we can make it to graduation). But there is a even larger possibility that we will end up wasting our time pursuing something we are totally uninterested in.

What if we have listened to the voice in our heart and take an alternative path to study what we enjoy and like? We would have reached a higher position and enjoyed our times in college.

You may think we are suggesting that you should follow your gut feeling when making decisions. Yet, in fact, whether to make decisions based on gut feelings or reasoning is not the key point.

It is how much you understand yourself that determines how likely you can make the right decisions.

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Only Self-Understanding Can Give You The Most Reliable Guidance

In our decision-making process, we always seek external information to guide us. This includes the advice and opinions from people we know, people with expertise in the field or people we can trust.

When it turns out to be a wrong decision, we blame them for misguiding us and the advice is inaccurate. We completely exclude ourselves from the consideration of options ahead.

Actually, knowing ourselves better can help us judge whether the given piece of advice or information is valuable or not more accurately.

None on this planet knows ourselves better than we do. And self-understanding is like a yardstick to help you assess the information or advice collected.

General norms are irrelevant to decision-making. People advise us by considering the social norms and think from their perspective instead of ours. When weighing pros and cons of a decision, we should not do it objectively or base on the general norms, after all it is all about us.

Remember, people who make right decisions consistently may not be the ones who are the smartest or the luckiest. They are, indeed, the ones who thoroughly understand themselves.

Understanding Yourself Is Toughest Challenge You Could Have, But You Can Nail It with These 4 Steps

Now we know we have to thoroughly understand ourselves. But it is easier said than done. One may think that we are born knowing ourselves and this is definitely not the case. Our subconscious minds always come into play and affect what we do and how we think without even us noticing. In fact, we may even live our lives without actually knowing who we really are.

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Self-understanding is an abstract concept. The notion taps into intangible things like our values or beliefs and understand your priority, strengths and weaknesses. And to start from something abstract is really challenging so here we provide a concrete step-by-step approach to draw a profile to know ourselves better. Remember to be honest to our own selves.

Step 1: Myers-Briggs Personality Test

If you are stuck with where to begin, try the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, it offers an analysis on your personality types and groups them into 16 different categories. The test consists of questions and statements and ask for your opinion on a scale of agreement. By taking the test, you will know who you are in a broader sense.

Step 2: Strengths and Weaknesses

Ask yourself on what areas you are good at and what you are not. It is even better if you can provide examples to illustrate the traits respectively. You can also ask your friends and family members the same question and compare their answers with yours. You will be amazed by the difference between how you see yourself and how they see you. Discuss with them why they have such an impression of you to investigate the reason.

Step 3: Priorities

Everyone weighs things in their lives differently. By putting yourself into typical scenario, you will realise what is more important to you. For example, if your house is burning down, what would you do and who would you save? You will be astonished by your way to prioritise things that you never know you do.

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Step 4: Strong Emotions

Recall your experience when you have really strong emotions. It can be the time when you are really happy or really furious. Once you identify the incidents , you can then look into the reasons why strong emotions are triggered. What exactly made you so angry? What in particular delights you? By checking these experience, you can understand yourself more about what affects you the most emotionally.

Look Further! There Are Always More Options

After having thorough understanding of yourself, you should explore more options when making decisions. If you stay with the options in hand, they may be good for you. But if you further explore other alternatives, you may find some that are GREAT for you.

While we are collecting information for the existing options, we may come across with other alternatives. Never leave them aside. They may be the best fit for you.

There can be numerous paths leading to the same destination. But some of them are shorter and some take less effort. You should never limit yourselves in picking a new road to go.

When you are looking for other possibilities, it is the time to let your imagination go wild, brainstorm with the additional information gathered and generate as many options as you can. At this point the feasibility is not of concern. You will weed out the improper ones later.

Living without realizing who you are is pitiful. Mourning on the wrong decision you made is even more so. Thus, start building your own profile now and avoid being the next Joe Green!

Reference

More by this author

Jeffrey Lau

Editor. Sport Lover. Animal Lover.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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