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How People Make Decisions That Are Bad For Them

How People Make Decisions That Are Bad For Them

He looked shocked.

I was having a conversation recently with a guy who was telling me about his nephew, a high school senior. “He should be an engineer,” the guy told me. “Engineers make great money. The job market for engineers is good. My nephew should definitely become an engineer. Don’t ya think?”

“No,” I said.

(That’s when he stared at me, stunned).

“What?” he replied.

“No,” I repeated. “I don’t know your nephew. What are his strengths?”

“His strengths?”

“Yes, his strengths. What are his strengths, his gifts, his passions? What is he interested in?”

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“Passion?” The guy scoffed. “Nobody chooses a job based on PASSION!”

I calmly replied, “It’s important for him to discover who he is…what his strengths, passions, and interests are…” and he looked at me like I was speaking gibberish.

I haven’t seen the guy again, and am not sure which career path his nephew will choose. But I know one thing for sure: if the nephew doesn’t understand himself, and if engineering doesn’t align with his strengths, passions, and interests, it might not be a great decision to become one.

We’re all guilty of making bad decisions. These decisions can greatly affect the course of our life. Whether we get involved in relationships that aren’t good for us, choose a career that doesn’t light us up, neglect our self-care repeatedly… we make bad decisions at times.

Why So Many People Make Bad Decisions

Making bad decisions can drastically change your life, leaving you unfulfilled and dissatisfied. When people make recurring poor decisions, they may not reach their potential.

People make bad decisions for many reasons. Their mindsets, lack of self-expertise, and following societal norms are three of the reasons they make poor decisions.

Your Mindset Determines the Quality of Your Decisions

Mindset, according to Merriam-Webster, is a mental attitude or inclination. It is important to recognize that your mental attitudes and inclinations are present and can greatly affect your ability to make decent decisions. Living your best life starts with your mindset. If you think small, make decisions based on limiting beliefs, and consistently avoid taking meaningful action due to fear, you will never reach your full potential.

Jim Taylor, PhD, explains cognitive biases as:[1]

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“the tendency to make decisions and take action based on imited acquisition and/or processing of information or on self-interest, overconfidence, or attachment to past experience.”

He describes many cognitive biases. One bias, the myopia bias, he explains, is when you

“see and interpret the world through the narrow lens of your own experiences, baggage, beliefs, and assumptions.”

The homecoming queen/king bias, Dr. Taylor writes, is when you “act in ways that will increase our acceptance, liking, and popularity.”

When you make decisions based on your cognitive biases, your choices aren’t always wise. It’s important to realize your mental inclinations are present.

Understand Yourself, but Don’t Let Your Feelings Lead You Astray

If we aren’t self-experts, it’s hard to make good decisions. Lions are amazing, strong, powerful, majestic animals. They know where they belong in the food chain, and they know where to live. They know how to hunt and how to act. However, what if a lion didn’t understand this, and attempted to live in the ocean? Surely it would NOT thrive in the ocean. The same goes for us. If we don’t understand who we are at the core, it’s hard to make the best choices that enable us to fully thrive.

When you understand yourself, you are better equipped to make good decisions. This does not, however, mean that you should always make decisions based on “how you feel.” In fact, making decisions based on your feelings can sometimes significantly restrict your growth.

For example, recently I was asked to speak to a group of business professionals. While I’m an extrovert and love being around people, and am very comfortable working with my coaching clients from around the world, standing in front of a crowd as a speaker is currently out of my comfort zone. My immediate response was discomfort, but I said “yes” to the invitation. Why? Because speaking is one of my goals, and I know as I move toward that goal I will be uncomfortable at first.

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Stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary in order to experience growth. As Brian Tracy says,

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

Following Societal Norms Can Lead to Bad Decisions

Societal norms affect people’s choices every day. The people you spend time with and society in general often influences the jobs you choose, the hours you work, the level of success you reach, your habits, and everything from your worldview to your view of what a “good” relationship with your significant other is.

Blindly following the crowd can cause you to live an unfulfilled life. Just because everyone you know works 9-5 in an office doesn’t mean that’s the best fit for you. Just because everyone you know has their kids in a bunch of activities doesn’t mean that’s the best plan for your family.

How to Make Great Decisions That You Won’t Regret

Three keys to consistently making great decisions are being aware of our mindsets, understanding ourselves, and making decisions intentionally instead of passively following the crowd.

Be Aware of Your Mindset

It is important to understand that your mindsets can lead you to make poor decisions. Success starts between your ears, with your mindsets. People often avoid making positive changes in their lives and doing big things because they believe achieving their biggest dreams is not possible for them. They settle for less than their full potential. Many people have an internal dialogue that is less than friendly toward themselves.

Start paying attention to your thoughts. When you think about achieving a big goal you have, what thoughts do you have? Are you encouraging toward yourself? If you discover that your self-talk is discouraging, work on modifying your thoughts. For example, if you think, “I can’t start a business; I don’t know how,” modify that sentence to “I don’t know how to start a business right now, but I can learn.” If you think, “I can’t lose weight; I failed last time I tried,” modify it to “I didn’t achieve my goal last time, but this time I’ll do x,y, and z to get great results.”

One way to minimize the risk of making poor decisions due to your mindset is by collaborating with an expert on your decision, or learning from people who have already done what you aspire to do. For example, when making career decisions, you can hire career counselors or executive coaches. If you want to retire when young and travel the world, learn from people who have done exactly that. Learning from experts and mentors who have achieved what you aspire to do can help you stay inspired and encouraged.

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Become Self-Experts

Becoming self-experts is an important key to making good decisions. When you have a strong understanding of your strengths, your priorities, and the impact you want to make on the world, you can make purpose-driven decisions and live more fulfilling lives.

I highly recommend the book, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The book helps people discover 5 of their strengths. Having a strong understanding of your strengths can help you choose a career path that allows you to maximize those strengths, rather than choosing a career that isn’t a good fit for you.

Make Decisions Intentionally

Being intentional with your decisions rather than passively following society’s recommendations for your life can help you make choices that align with what matters most to you. Pause to reflect and think about why you’re making the choices you’re making. Are you living your life in a manner that enables you to become the best version of you, and make the impact on the world that you are here to make? Or, are you living the life that society wants for you?

One simple step to being more intentional in your life is to write out a tentative schedule for your day. When you tell your time where to go, it can help you minimize time spent on time-sucking activities that don’t align with who you most want to be.

Also, as Jim Rohn says,

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

Being intentional with who you spend time with can also steer you toward better decisions.

Although nobody’s perfect, and nobody has a perfect life, working on these strategies can help you make better decisions, leading to less regrets and a more fulfilling life.

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Cognitive Biases Are Bad for Business

More by this author

Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

5 Signs You’re Ready for a Career Change Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again How to Find the Purpose of Life and Start Living a Fulfilling Life Don’t like your job? Here are some solutions. How People Make Decisions That Are Bad For Them

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

What Is Self-Worth and How to Recognize Yours

What Is Self-Worth and How to Recognize Yours

There are a ton of articles on the internet on one’s “self” topic or another. It’s possible that you’ve read some of them before this one, and you’re wondering how this article might be any different from the rest.

The truth is that self-love, self-esteem, self-empathy, self-regard, and all the other ‘self-’ words are indeed great and unique qualities to be instilled. Still, the most crucial concept of them all is self-worth.

What is Self-Worth?

Self-worth is simply defined as the level of importance you place on yourself. It is an emotional outlook that determines how and what you feel about yourself in comparison to other people.

Self-worth is a fundamental part of our being, and it controls the way we see ourselves. Everything we think about, all the emotions we feel, and even the way we act is a product of what value we place on ourselves by ourselves.

Self-worth is an entirely sensitive topic. So, here are a few recommended steps to recognizing your true self-worth.

    The Theory of Self-Worth

    To most people, self-worth only comes after a feat has been achieved or when in competition with another person. This is the theory: that a person’s life goal is self-recognition and that this recognition is a product of their accomplishments. This theory also holds capability, determination, performance, and self-esteem as its model elements.

    These four elements cooperate with each other to contribute to how we regard ourselves. It may be relatable, but should we really be placing so much importance on our accomplishments just to determine our self-worth? Is outdoing the next person the only way we can hold ourselves in high regard? What really determines one’s sense of value?

    Factors That Define Self-Worth

    The four elements from the theory above are not the only benchmarks used by people to determine self-worth. Many other things can inhibit how a person recognizes their self-worth. For some, it might be childhood trauma, low grades, or even bullying.

    The following are more common ways people measure their self-worth:

    1. Sphere of Contact

    Many times, people are weighed (or weigh themselves) by the number of prominent people they are close to and know.

    2. Physical and Emotional Appearance

    We find ourselves passing judgments just by regarding a person’s outward look – what they wear, how they speak, or how the society feels about them.

    3. Occupation

    This is another yardstick that people use to measure self-worth. Someone can be mean to a waiter and friendly to a doctor, for example, because they feel the latter is more successful than the former. Career choices often add positive or negative importance to one’s life.

    4. Possessions

    This is a common factor used to measure self-worth. It can be anything from the size of your paycheck to the kind and number of cars you own. It is usually material assets.

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      What Self-Worth Is Not

      The truth is that status or material things should never measure self-worth. There are many misconceptions about self-worth that have sadly shaped the minds of people into thinking less of themselves when they are, in fact, more.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Career

      Your occupation should not determine the value you place on your life.

      There have been cases where experienced and trained professionals have had to settle for menial jobs because they couldn’t get hired. If this doesn’t take away their qualifications, why then should self-worth be measured according to career choices? The only thing that should be a concern is how gratifying the job is.

      Self-Worth Is Not About Your Accomplishment

      Achievements are great, but what you do or achieve shouldn’t affect the importance you place on yourself. No label, certificate, or plaque should measure your worth for you.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Age

      I don’t mean to sound cliché by telling you age is nothing but a big number, but I will tell you this: how old or how young you are does not determine how prepared you are for anything.

      You only need to be willing and dedicated, and the world will be at your feet.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Love Life

      It is tempting to try to feel good about yourself just because someone feels good about you. What if they leave?

      Single or not, do not make a relationship the basis for your self-worth.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Grades

      Are you the least smart person in your class? Know that you are just as valuable as a straight-A student because you have individual gifts and might excel at something else that an A-student will flunk terribly.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Health Status

      Do you have an illness that’s lowering your spirits? It is safe to say that positive people heal more quickly, so stay optimistic.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Finances

      Too much or too little money does not define a person. As long as you are satisfied and have enough to survive, then there’s nothing to worry about.

      Self-Worth Is Not About Your Preference

      Do people think you’re old-school or too sophisticated for this generation? Their opinion doesn’t matter as long as you’re okay with who you are.

      Self-worth is only about you!

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        What Self-Worth Really Is

        It can be somewhat overwhelming to see yourself for who “you surely are” without the assets or dream job or friends. For some people, it can be agonizing, and they would do anything but come to this stage of awareness. There also exists a high possibility for one to become afraid of becoming self-aware.

        It is natural for humans to be elusive of this sort of fear or pain. This process is necessary for the discovery of self-worth and should never be avoided. Beyond every seemingly painful emotion is an eternity of freedom, and the first step on this journey is self-awareness. This is the key to finding self-worth.

        Everyone has a mental picture of who they want to be. Sometimes this person is not who he or she is. It’s okay to have ambitions and life goals, but never let your dreams make you deny yourself. Self-denial is an enemy to self-worth. This is why it is painful to become self-aware. Most people will never want to let go of who they think they are and embrace their true selves for who they indeed are.

        Self-worth is not a bad thing. It only makes you accept your weaknesses while you learn to focus on your strengths. Some of this strength lies undiscovered, and until we become self-aware, we will be unable to bring them to light.

        On self-worth, you can either be your own best friend or your worst enemy. If you keep evading self-awareness, you will only keep delaying your freedom and healing. Self-worth truly comes when you fully understand who you are and what strong potential you possess.

        The Importance of Self-Worth

        The best part about recognizing self-worth is seeing the practical impact it has on your behavior. Self-worth affects the things you do and the choices you make consciously. You start rejecting anything that has a negative effect on your outlook on life, and you become more open to things crafted to make you a better person.

        Self-worth is what keeps you satisfied even if all your achievements, assets, and possessions are taken away from you. The moment you reach healthy levels of self-worth, life becomes much more meaningful.

          How To Recognize Your Self-Worth

          So, you’ve finally become self-aware, but you don’t feel good about yourself. Nothing excites you about you. You think you’re just an average person, coursing through life with nothing special to offer.

          You start to feel like you need validation from determining your self-worth. You want to achieve a task or even take a quiz to measure your self-worth. What you should know is that self-worth first comes from within.

          To reiterate the opening paragraph of this article, it is the level of importance you place on yourself; by yourself! By merely existing, you are sufficient.

          Finding Strength

          Strength in self-worth comes from finding qualities you excel at. These qualities will be a constant reminder whenever you start feeling like you are not worthy enough.

          Little things like a list of your talents, things you like about yourself that make you stand out, challenges you’ve won at, how you’ve helped other people, and other great reflections are examples of questions you should have answers to. Your strength lies in those questions.

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          The Dangers of Linking Self-Worth to Things and People

          You make unhealthy decisions when you keep looking for validation in things and people. You never get to see yourself for the potential-filled and robust person you are.

          Looking for external validation will only frustrate you. You set yourself up for a chain of disappointments. Place your worth on your insides. It is the key to leading a healthy life.

          How To Start Increasing Your Self-Worth

          Now that you’ve seen the vacuums that continuously drain your self-worth, it’s time to learn ways to increase, strengthen, and sustain it. You can start by highlighting the things you previously found your worth in and substitute them for more productive activities.

          Here are some examples.

          For the One Who Found Self-Worth in Excelling at School or at Work:

          Take some time off from all the excessive reading. Engage in an activity that you really like. Learn a new skill, like how to play an instrument or how to dance salsa. Read an unusual book.

          For the One Who Sought Validation from Social Media:

          Go offline for some time. Attend hangouts with physical people. Take long and reflective walks. Be intentional about your words and actions. Show your relations and friends that you care for them. Show up physically for people. Be there for them.

          On your journey to recognize self-worth, never compare yourself to anyone. By comparison, you rob yourself of self-awareness and block your chances of seeing your strong potential. Comparison only measures your worth by other people’s standards. How about creating some rules on your own?

          With time, it becomes easier to free oneself from the weight that comes with no self-worth. It is easy to do things you believe in than otherwise. Never doubt the process. Reassure yourself that your journey to self-worth will be the most rewarding experience of your life.

          Let’s take a look at some practical ways to boost self-worth:

          1. Do a Talent or Skill Inventory

          Everyone has something good to offer. Humans possess and can learn mind-blowing abilities.

          What can you offer? Take stock of your skills and gifts.

          What are those cool things you do effortlessly? When you identify your abilities, you suppress your weaknesses and give voice to your strength.

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          2. Pardon Yourself

          You have to forgive yourself for all your shortcomings. Learn from all your past mistakes. If you keep feeling guilty or ashamed, you will never have a healthy sense of self-worth.

          3. Take Risks

          The only reason you haven’t done something great for yourself is that you are still wondering whether or not you should do it. Never be afraid to take risks to become a better version of yourself. Stop doubting your abilities and go.

          If you don’t succeed on your initial try, you would only have learned how not to fail next time. Get up and do great things.

          Try these 6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances.

          4. Self-Love

          Accept yourself for who you are. If you have negative qualities, work on becoming a better person. Never make the mistake of living in denial. You would only be delaying your freedom.

          Here’re 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

          5. Surround Yourself with Healthy People

          Healthy attracts healthy. Healthy habits can rub off as much as negative ones do.

          Surround yourself with the change you want to see. Be with people who have overcome the doubts they had about themselves and, like you, are also on a journey to recognizing self-worth.

          Take a look at this article and learn How to Surround Yourself With Positive People.

          It is crucial for everyone to lead healthy lives physically, emotionally, socially, mentally, and otherwise, by evaluating our self-worth. We have to consciously take steps to build and develop our sense of regard for each other and, more importantly, for ourselves. Healthy self-worth is a source of deep and lasting satisfaction in life.

          Final Thoughts

          It is worthy to note that you will begin to lose friends on your journey to recognize your self-worth.

          People with low self-worth find solace in each other’s company and so your new-found confidence might become threatening. It’s okay. Ensure your growth process inspires them, but do not hesitate to keep a distance from anyone who does not support your growth.

          More Tips to Improve Your Self-Worth

          Featured photo credit: Erik Lucatero via unsplash.com

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