Mirror Magazine

30th December 2001

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Do you know how to make up your mind?

Possible turning points in life and unexpected opportunities come to all of us, but important, often fateful, decisions are not easy to take. Most of us tend to be rather inefficient at making up our minds - which is why decision-taking can be so agonising and difficult.

We've all of us come to the point where far-reaching decisions have to be made, yet knowing which path to take has been an awful dilemma.

Even worse perhaps is getting past this point and finally making the decision, only to realise after a little while that the wrong choice has been made......

'Foolish decisions and indecisions are the consequence not only of the complexity of the world about us, but of the complicated cross-currents of the world within us', says a psychologist. There is always a right way to go about making up our minds on anything, whether a snap judgement is best or a carefully thought-out plan. Here is a quiz to ponder over that will show you just how far you've come along the road to effective decision-making - and gives you some helpful hints into the bargain.

Answer these ten questions carefully - the findings may well show you how best to manage difficult situations.

1.) When thinking over a big decision, do you:

(a)tend to see the worst rather than the best?

(b) merely search for facts that confirm your own instinctive judgement?

(c)try to find out more and more just to delay things?

2.) Gathering the facts of the case won't solve it, however. We have to be able to balance pro with con, to select the course that seems most likely to ensure the results we want. When weighing things up like this, do you:

(a)place a good deal of importance on your hunch?

(b)start looking for other alternatives?

(c)begin to see the problem in a new light?

3.) Modern psychology always advises us to let big decisions stem from our instinctive inner feelings, to let our deep, ineradicable inner needs govern us as we make up our minds. When you feel vitally like this, are you:

(a)interested only in meeting the inner need, come what may?

(b) always prepared to forego your feelings, if that seems the best course?

(c)already searching for a compromise between the two?

4.) We can always tell without any doubt when a good decision has been made that is in accord with our inner nature, usually very soon afterwards, even before any tangible results appear. Would you say it is because:

(a)our thoughts start dwelling on anticipated future happiness?

(b)we experience an enormous sense of relief?

(c)other people begin to confirm the wisdom of our decision?

5.) Of course we nearly always sleep on big decisions, not to delay facing them but because our thoughts are always affected by our moods. But consciously postponing a choice just to keep it at a distance is mere indecision, and unwise. The great secret is to know when, and when not to make a decision. In your own life have you suffered most from:

(a)decisions taken too early?

(b)decision left too late?

(c)the difficulty of choosing the right moment?

6.) When there is no need for a snap decision, a yes or no that is required instantly or by return of post, taking time helps. But is time to decide, for you, important because:

(a)it enables you to talk things over with others?

(b)it often allows the situation to 'ripen' and so work itself out by clarification or change?

(c)it avoids the danger of a premature false move?

7.) 'Half the difficulties of man', wrote Somerset Maugham, 'lie in his desire to answer every question with yes or no'. How true this is when big problems confront us. He added: 'Yes or no may neither of them be the answer; each side may have in it some yes and some no'. When a fateful choice has to be made, do you feel:

(a)it is easy to see that one day both paths may meet anyway?

(b)it is difficult to see any turning back?

(c)just a general but vague sense of bewilderment?

8.) In the stress and strain of the moment, it is often hard not to regard decisions as final and often painful, although experience keeps telling us that there is nearly always more flexibility, more 'give' in most decisions, than we realise. If things don't turn out right after you have made your choice, do you feel:

(a)you did your best, so that's that?

(b)you can most probably modify your decision in time?

(c)you may yet find that things will work out differently?

9.) If the decision is fateful, we must always recognise that we stand to lose - not only if we choose wrongly, but sometimes whichever way we turn. A choice between marriage and a career, security or adventure, must inevitably involve some sacrifice, no matter how our minds are made up. Do you find it hardest to:

(a)face up to this fact?

(b)face giving things up?

(c)face the world afterwards?

10.) After all the reflections and heart-searching, the talking and listening to others, the responding to both our own feelings and the imperfect reality around us, one supreme ingredient is still required and most likely to make the future rewarding. Would you say it is:

(a)a clear philosophy of life?



Each question was so framed as to allow one correct answer as the

most sensible in all normal conditions, viz:

1.(a); 2.(c); 3.(c); 4.(b); 5.(c); 6.(b); 7.(a); 8.(b); 9.(a); 10.(c).

But no one can truthfully claim a top score of ten on such a difficult range of questions. (If you did, you are merely deluding yourself over your ability to make great decisions!).

So the verdict works out as follows:

7 to 9 -You are as well equipped as anyone can hope to be for meeting big decisions and dominating them with sense and feeling. It is an immensely valuable gift.

5 or 6 - You tend to become rather over-awed by life's need for making choices, and so your judgement is sometimes not as good as it ought to be. Re-read questions 7 and 8.

3 or 4 - You let decisions force themselves upon you instead of the other way round. Next time you have to make up your mind on an important matter, stop, consider, wait - and then decide, a necessary process that can take minutes, or months, as circumstances dictate. But make sure you are on top at the end!

Under 3 - Making up your mind wisely and well is an unavoidable part of life, and the sooner you recognize this the happier you will be.

- Asia Features

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