Making the right decision isn’t always easy


Whereas, a bad decision can have a lifetime of consequences, a good decision can set you up for life’s successes. Therefore, it is important to count the cost in any situation, with the hope of some level of predictability.

Unfortunately, there is no fail-safe reality for making the right decisions. One old school approach for navigating making good decisions is to trust our instincts. How many times we didn’t feel right, feeling something was off, yet we pushed past that feeling, only to regret it. Instinctually, if it doesn’t feel right, then it’s probably best to walk away. Here’s a quote that has a lot of merit and a commonsense approach to good decision making.

“Trust your instincts, and make judgements on what your heart tells you. The heart will not betray you.”

― David Gemmell, “Fall of Kings”

The biblical story of Naomi and Ruth speaks to the power of instincts guiding the heart for the best decision. The story of these two women is a well-known story of a very devoted daughter-in-law. Both Naomi, the mother-in-law, and Ruth, the daughter-in-law, find themselves grieving the loss of their husbands. However, Naomi’s grief is compounded by the loss of her husband and both her sons. She is a childless widow without a son or a husband to assume the role of providing for her.

In this story, Naomi weighs her options and decides she will return to her native home country. Ruth, her devoted daughter-in-law, decides she would leave her family, country, culture, to supportively follow her mother-in-law. This familiar story is famously referenced and quoted in many marriages’ ceremonial vows.

According to Ruth Chapter 1:16: “And Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”

Ruth made a major life decision purely upon the conviction of her heart. Based on Ruth’s decision, it’s safe to conjecture that the two women must have had a good relationship, making a hard decision easier. If we fast forward this story, we see that this one major decision changed the trajectory of both Naomi and Ruth’s lives from a life of poverty to a place of prominence.

Not every decision we make will have a clear predictability, but in every decision made, we should aim for the best outcome. Most social scientists agree that there are key factors for making good decisions to help us to leverage a predictable outcome. Some of those key factors to making reasonably good decisions are knowing your goals and planning, weighing your options, knowing the pros and the cons, right timing, and trusting your instincts without overthinking.

As the old adage goes, “count up the cost.” The 24-hour waiting principle is also an excellent rule of thumb for guarding against impulsive spending decisions. It suggests that if you want to avoid making an impulse purchase, ending in buyer’s remorse afterwards, wait 24 hours to decide on any major purchase.

We aim for the best outcomes, but regrettably, we’ve all made one or two bad decisions. We learn from the bad decisions and keep it moving.

“Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”

According to an article in Decision Making Psychology: “How to Make the Right Decision in Any Situation,” “Decision making is an essential skill that every person will need to use at some point in their career and to prove that you are good at making the best decision, you will need to make the best possible choice in the shortest possible time, as well as being able to show reasons that support your decisions.”

Ultimately, decisions have consequences, so the best practice is that we aim for the best outcomes using the tools life has given to us.

Kimberly Strain is pastor at the Outreach Christian Center in Delaware.

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