Are you Choosing or Reacting?

We all make decisions every day, large and small. Life throws us curveballs and we have to decide how to respond. When this happens, are you simply reacting to the situation, or making a conscious choice?

When you react and make a decision based on emotion or instinct, then it is those emotions and instincts that are in control. When you pause to think through your options, the possible consequences, and make a choice based on facts as well as intuition, you are in control.

When emotion goes up, intelligence goes down, so times of high emotional stress are not good times to make decisions. You don't have to disregard your emotions completely, you just want to make sure you've considered all the angles and possible consequences before deciding on a course of action.

Let's say you are thinking about investing in real estate. You've heard from some people that it is the best type of investment. Others tell you it is way too risky. Who do you believe? No one - do your own investigation, talk to people who are doing the type of investing you are considering and ask them about the pros and cons. This way you are getting a balanced perspective and can make a choice that works for you. As you learn, you may find yourself getting more excited about this type of investment and feel that the pros outweigh the cons. Or you may find that the more you learn the more you feel this isn't the right type of investment for you. Either decision is fine - it's important to choose something that fits with who you are. 

Any time you are faced with an important decision, don't let an emotional reaction make the choice for you. Look at all the facts and be honest with yourself about what you really want and what you're willing to go through to get it. Sometimes you will decide not to go through with something because it's not worth it to you or not right for your situation, and that's fine. The important thing is that you considered all the facts and made a conscious decision.

Original publish date: January 07, 2010