Suicide is a bad decision. So is drinking and driving or not wearing a seatbelt. But that doesn’t stop people from making those decisions.
In the United States alone more than a 120 people take their lives each day. A heartbreaking, bad decision.
Every 51 seconds, someone dies as a result of a drunk driver. And it is estimated that for each drunk driver caught and ticketed, there are 80 more who slip through the cracks.
Bad decisions. With horrific consequences.
So why do we make these decisions? Why do we do things that hurt other people and ourselves?
Answering that is a little bit different for each person.
It’s not always easy to figure out why you make the decisions that you do.
But looking back it’s easy to see a pattern where negative emotions influence you in a surprisingly hurtful way. It’s easy to see where anger created actions that have had lasting consequences.
It might sound glorious to stomp out of your office, tell your boss and the rest of your coworkers that they’re idiots, and then squeal your tires as you speed out of the parking lot.
But that decision comes with consequences. One of them being your job. And possibly your happiness — if a steady paycheck depends on that.
Your fit of rage probably has an impact on your friendships. It most definitely creates a problem for your family.
Here is the truth — you probably didn’t think about any of that before you made the decision to blow up.
You didn’t consider all your options. And the possible consequences attached to each decision.
It felt good to get angry and blow off some steam — so you did that. You wanted to lash out. You wanted to say your mind.
You were determined to not let anybody tell you what to do. And now those negative emotions have triggered a series of events that will be hard to correct. You will pay a price.
It’s not just about your career. You make thousands of decisions each day, just like this. You get angry or feel depressed and do things that hurt you and the people around you.
Looking back — you want to stop hurting those people and hurting yourself. You don’t want to have to deal with the negative consequences of these bad decisions. But you can’t seem to stop making bad decisions.
So what do you do? How do you learn?
What’s the secret to doing the right thing when doing the wrong thing feels so much better than the short-term?
The easiest answer is to learn from your mistakes. To observe the damage you create when you make bad decisions and use that as motivation to pause, breathe, and give yourself some space to do the right thing.
One of the negative emotions that triggers me is the feeling of not being valued — when I feel like others don’t think I matter. It’s silly — but that negative loop has caused me so much heartache over my lifetime.
So I decided to learn from my mistakes.
I wrote a simple note on a piece of paper and stuck it in my wallet. It is just a few words: “You are already good enough.” It reminds me to stop letting my ego drag me down.
On my phone wallpaper I have the following few words: “Ask questions. Be honest. Do things that matter.” It reminds me to tune out the noise and play my game. (By the way, you can download a few of those posters for FREE, right here)
I have silicone bracelets on my wrist that tell me to try more and stop making excuses. I have posters on my walls and notes in my car.
I got tired of making bad decisions so I’m going out of my way to change that.
The answer might be as simple for you. Like me, in the heat of the moment, you need flashing red lights around you to remind you that your bad decisions have long-term consequences.
You need to combat the negative emotion fueling your paranoia and fear with a reminder that decisions made like that always lead to pain and disaster.
Want to make better decisions? Remind yourself — early and often — why it matters. And what is at stake?