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5 Tips For Making Good Decisions To Avoid Regret Later On

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5 Tips For Making Good Decisions To Avoid Regret Later On

Making good decisions was not something that came naturally to me. That’s why, by the age of 21, I was an alcoholic prostitute with barely a roof over my head. It wasn’t that I was stupid. I just had problems that I didn’t know how to fix, and the decisions I made to cope with a difficult life were, quite frankly, terrible.

It all started with an anxiety disorder that I didn’t know how to manage. I was agoraphobic, and I turned to drink just to be able to deal with the fear of leaving the house. Initially, my plan worked quite well, so it seemed like a good idea. But the decision to drown the fear in drink caused me far more problems, over time, than it solved.

I’ve recovered from all my issues now, after learning how to make good decisions that don’t lead to regrets. I was desperate to help others make good decisions in difficult circumstances, which led to me becoming a therapist. Here are some lessons about decision-making that I share with my clients. I hope they help you make good decisions too.

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1. Face the truth bravely.

People sometimes flee from the truth, because it’s scary or unpleasant. Instead of making good decisions based on the reality of a situation, people procrastinate, hide, or delay taking real action. That’s precisely what I did when I decided to hide in a bottle.

I now have a tattoo (yes, therapists can have tattoos) that reads: “Face Your Truth—Take Your Freedom.” It’s a formula for making good decisions. You can only truly be free by acknowledging the truth, however difficult, and dealing with it, rather than burying your head in the sand. You’ll thank yourself later on for being brave.

2. Look at the long-term.

It is easy to make quick decisions that seem to work in the short-term; but what really counts is the impact of a decision in the long-term. Don’t go for quick fixes—look at what really works over time. If I had done this, I might never have lost my pancreas, my sanity, and a decade of my life.

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Ask yourself whether this decision is a real solution with beneficial long-term consequences. Good decisions sometimes bring pain in the short-term, but that’s not the rest of your life. It’s always worth temporary pain and struggle to make good decisions you won’t regret.

3. Do a value-tally.

The decisions we most regret are usually those that don’t match up with what we value. As my later career as a therapist and writer shows, what matters to me is being able to help others, to express myself, and to make a difference. Drinking my way into oblivion was no way to live the life that I wanted.

It’s never a good idea to do something that clashes directly with your own values, because it will make you very unhappy. Good decisions match your values, and allow you to lead a life that fulfils you.

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4. Consider what’s at stake.

Good decisions are those which give us benefits without losing us anything important. When I chose to drink to get through life at university, I hadn’t factored in that if it didn’t work out, that was one thing I would really regret screwing up.

And of course, I did screw it up. I was in and out of university for years between ill health, suicide attempts and generally losing the plot. I try not to regret anything these days, because it’s a wasted emotion. But of all the things I look back on the most sadly, it’s the fact that I had to jettison university permanently in the end. I will most likely never again get a shot at something I loved so dearly. Good decisions are those which don’t burn bridges you can’t rebuild.

5. Do the death-bed test.

A great way of making good decisions is to ask yourself if, on your death bed, you would regret anything about your choice. This applies as much to not doing things as to doing them. If you decide never to have a shot at improving yourself, starting your own business, or writing a book, would you look back on your life and wish you’d just given it a go?

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The greatest regret usually comes not from failure, but from not having tried at all. I don’t regret much of my life now, because I eventually made good decisions and turned my life around before I reached my death bed—although it was a close call. No matter how hard or scary the work is, the decision to try for all you are worth is better than looking back with regret at things you never even attempted.

Featured photo credit: Impact Hub via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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