4 Questions for Making Unregrettable Decisions

15.10.20 11:27 PM Comment(s) By Tony Ripley

Are you vulnerable to making bad choices?    (4 minute read)

Taking the wrong action can land you in jail, and choosing the wrong words in an argument can break a friendship.  We make between 70 and 35,000 decisions each day, depending on your internet source, and if you count me itching my nose a moment ago as a decision or if decisions require conscious deliberation.  Regardless of how we're measuring, decision making has a compounding effect. Sound decisions can lead to better opportunities and favorable circumstances.  Poor choices can lead to catastrophe in the unforeseen future for the unaware decider.

Learning to make the right decision is more important than most people think.

Sometimes the worst advice is to follow your gut. I get it. It's empowering and even romantic to make a big decision on your own. It's simpler to go with our feelings instead of qualifying a decision with data and testing it against principles.  

Intuitive decisions will fail you more often than using more critical and objective methods. When you're deciding pizza over burgers, it matters little. When the stakes are higher:

  • When deciding on which college to attend
  • When determining your second-semester classes
  • When choosing friends or a significant other
You might want a better fail-safe than your gut.

Dr. Daniel Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 for his work on behavioral economics. In his book, he asserts new findings about the human brain and decision making. It can be helpful for us to consider that we have two systems for thinking. Our minds don't have two systems for thinking, Kahneman fully admits, but conceptualizing that we do helps us understand our brain's behavior. System 1 operates fast and intuitively. It saves our lives when we're in danger, and it is very efficient in its use of energy. System 2 helps us solve math problems or chose what to eat from the Cafe menu. It's slower and uses up more energy.

Daniel Kahnemabn. Nobel Prize Winner, Author of Thinking Fast and Slow
Repeated small efforts build upon one another, producing sizable results.  Small changes to your daily habits or your steps toward a big goal, add up. This rule applies to decision making too. Below are the four best questions to ask yourself to help you make un-regrettable decisions every day.

Before I lay out the questions, you should know the history of these questions because they are used by over 3 million business professionals daily. Watch this short video (right) to see how remarkable these questions are.

4 Questions for Making Unregrettable Decisions

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say, and do.

Is it the truth:

Are you aware of your biases? We are inclined to favor something when we feel that it benefits or is fairer to us. Or we have a prejudice against something less in our favor. Our biases can pull us away from the truth. Can you justify a white lie if it benefits you? Can you justify stretching the truth if it helps others? 

Is it fair to all concerned:

I like to win, don't you? I like to gain. But if we win or gain at the expense of others, the rules, or our integrity, we're cheating. 

Will it build goodwill and better friendships:

What's more important, being right or being for what's right? You could have all the money in the world and die lonely. If you love friends, you will serve your friends. If you love the community, you will serve your community. If you love money, you will serve your money. And if you love only yourself, you will serve only yourself. And you will have only yourself.

Learn to find as much join in being cooperative as being competitive. There is a time for both.

Will it be beneficial to all concerned.

When we feel resources are scarce, we turn inward and neglect developing relationships. Learn to give freely, and you will feel abundant. Not just your money; also of your time and your skill. Were you taught as a child that when we give and serve, you receive a greater return? Call it karma or call it what comes around goes around. When you are conscious of others, whether you are the giver or the receiver, everyone benefits. 

In CREATE Clubs, students make dozens of decisions about how they will develop their businesses, and we teach them a decision-making rule of thumb. Give equal weight to your decisions as you would the consequences of your choices. If you make a hard pivot, choosing to change products mid-semester, that's a weighty decision that will change everything and requires deliberation. Choosing between a green or blue background on your event flyer carries less weight.

The CSF's purpose is to support students interested in entrepreneurship education by providing mentors and scholarships.  We share information about character development, helping students succeed in business and life. 

Anthony Ripley is a blogger, the author of On Success, and founder of CREATE Clubs, student Entrepreneurship and Character Development Clubs, now launching in the United States and Europe.  He lives in Round Rock, Texas, with his wife and two kids.


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