Better decisions, Fewer regrets

The questions we ask ourselves help us make better decisions

By Sinay Butler, Counselor – Dragonfly Wellness

When we think about decision-making, we usually think about those decisions that are “larger” and require more consideration. What job shall I take? Should I buy this car? Should I date this person? Each of those decisions are made up of smaller, seemingly less important decisions. Andy Stanley, in his book “Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets,” breaks down decision-making into five basic questions to ask ourselves. He calls them: The Integrity Question, The Legacy Question, The Conscious Question, The Maturity Question, and The Relationship Question. Taking the time to consider each of these questions can help us make better decisions.

The Integrity Question
People who live with integrity seem to have fewer regrets about their decisions. This can be challenging because sometimes the person we must be most honest with is ourselves. Sometimes we make decisions that feel good, even if they are not good for us. Making emotional decisions is not the same as deciding with integrity. The question we must ask ourselves is: Am I being honest with myself and others about making this decision?

The Legacy Question
We all create stories about our lives. These stories become our legacy. We tell the story to our children and friends. They tell their children and friends our story, and then our stories become a part of their story. Often, when we make a decision we are not proud of, we end up altering the story – making it a lie. If my decision is going to result in me creating a story that I am not proud to tell, then I should not make that decision. How many “how we met” stories are shaded over and not honest because of the poor judgement or lack of integrity that went into making them? When making decisions, it is important that we first ask: What is the story I want to tell? Then make decisions that are congruent with that story.

The Conscious Question
Often, when we are about to do something (or decide), we feel the tension as to the rightness or wrongness of that decision. We feel a tension – a gut reaction – to the information surrounding the decision. Sometimes we call that our conscience. Many poor decisions are made when we ignore that tension. While we may not have a Jiminy Cricket on our shoulder to chirp loudly for us, most of us do have a moral compass that quietly points us in the right direction. Paying attention to that quiet voice takes effort; most of us recognize that it was there, especially during those times when we chose to ignore it. Most of the time, we don’t even need more information to make a decision, as Jiminy says, when we let our conscience be our guide.

The Maturity Question
The question we often ask ourselves in deciding is regarding the wisdom of a decision. How do we make wise decisions? Stanley explains that we ask ourselves this question: Considering my past experiences, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do? Wisdom might not be as mysterious as we thought! But it might require us to slow down and think before making decisions. Our past experiences can give us insight as to how things have turned out in similar situations. Our current circumstances must be considered, so that we do not overextend ourselves and so that we can consider the people around us. Our future goals should set the tone for every decision. If my goal is to buy a house in five years, for example, then I need to consider how current financial transactions will impact my savings and credit.

The Relationship Question
The last question that Stanley proposes is The Relationship Question. This question may be the most difficult one, but Stanley stresses its importance for anyone to make good decisions; and, for Christ followers, this is a required question. The question is: What does love require of me? This means that decisions are made with the interests of others in mind. How will the decision I make impact those around me, especially those with whom I am in a relationship? Since most of us live in a relationship with others, our decisions can impact other people. Sometimes love requires hard things. Love can mean saying no and setting boundaries. It can mean standing on principles rather than emotions. As the old saying goes, “love is a verb,” and that means taking action, often when it is difficult.

The questions we ask ourselves impact the decisions that create the story of our life. We must slow down to consider them. We need to ask ourselves: Am I living with integrity? What is the story I want to tell? What is my conscience telling me? Considering my past experiences, current situation, and future hopes and dreams, what is the wisest course of action? What does love require of me? By making decisions with intentionality, we live a life with fewer regrets. If you would like more information on better decisions and goal setting, Dragonfly Wellness and Education Center has trained life coaches to help. For more information, call 509-724-0221 or visit www.dragonflywec.com.