Reality Check: What We Can Learn From Our Decisions

While all of us make decisions, some of us approach decision-making with more enthusiasm than others. Some folks love having choices and no matter what they choose, seem to spend nary a second in self-doubt.
Then there are the rest of us; we who struggle with decision-making. We can find downsides to every available choice. How to choose; how to choose?
Our decisions matter; some of them matter a lot. The totality of the decisions that we’ve made over the days, months and years has contributed to where we are right now. Look around. What people, objects, and scenery do you see? Think about your activities for the day. What will you do? Who will you see? Where will you go?
Much of our situation today has been determined, or at least influenced, by the many previous choices that we have made. How do we know when a particular decision we’ve made was the right one?
According to Dr. Robert Wubbolding, “Self-evaluation constitutes the core of reality therapy.” What does that mean?
When we self-evaluate, we evaluate ourselves. We look at our own behaviours; we consider what we want and what actions we have taken. Then we ask ourselves how effective our decisions have been.
Asking ourselves specific questions can help. Here are a few of mine:
Is this decision moving me closer to meeting my goals? Or is it pulling me away? Is it enhancing relationships that are important to me? Or driving us apart?
Will it have a positive long-term impact? Or does it only provide short-term satisfaction?
Does this decision contribute to making someone’s life better or worse? (This includes, but isn’t limited to, your own life.)
Is this decision an honourable one that meets my standard of behaviour? Or would I be embarrassed if people I respect or love learned about it?
Self-evaluating our decisions is a useful habit to develop. If these questions seem too elaborate, you could simplify to one question: “How’s this working for me?”
It can also be useful to do a larger, reflective self-evaluation based on the question, “How did I get to where I am today?”
Trace backward through the important decisions that have led you to where you are now. Consider the people you met and decided to have ongoing relationships with. The places you’ve decided to go. The things you’ve chosen to learn. The things you chose to spend your money on, and the things you chose not to. The emotions you decided to express, and the ones that you kept to yourself.
If you are feeling largely satisfied and in control of your life, it’s useful to reflect on the choices that have contributed to your good fortune. If you are in very different circumstances, where hopes for your life have not come to fruition, this exercise may be even more valuable.
You don’t need to pass judgment on your choices, not unless you want to. There’s no need to berate or congratulate yourself. (You’re free to do so if you want though; it’s your self-evaluation.)
It is, however, useful to accept the reality of what we learn. When we do, the exercise can help us distinguish between effective choices and less effective, even destructive, choices.
If it shows us what we can do differently to contribute to a better result, then we will have learned something useful, indeed.
What do you think of self-evaluation?

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