The most exhausting thing I do on a daily basis is make decisions. Mundane repetitive, often times insignificant decisions all day, every day. What’s for breakfast? What’s for lunch? What do we need to do today? Who needs clothes, doctor appointments, shoes? Mostly, these are easy to answer; it’s just the relentlessness of them that makes them exhausting. Then, there are times that making a decision seems impossible, paralyzing even. How do you know it’s the right choice? Are there repercussions for the wrong choice? How will this single choice affect my circumstances short term, long term? When in doubt and in need of guidance, I often call my dad. He is always up for listening and advising with his best knowledge. That’s not to say he knows everything because he will boldly tell you that he does not, but he knows even when he is not educated enough to provide any valid advice.
My father repeatedly asks the same question any of us adult kids go to him looking for some aged wisdom. He will very quietly listen to the dilemma, ask any questions to make sure he understands all of the circumstances, and then he asks, “Well baby, what’s the right thing to do?” It’s the same question every single time, same steady tone, same calm expression, same eyebrow raised with curiosity.
I find myself trying to teach my toddler that there’s a good choice and a bad choice in an effort to teach him how to stay out of trouble. This question has brought me the courage to make the right choices as well as haunted my bad choices. When it all boils down to making a choice, and I’m overwhelmed with the possibilities, I can always hear him grumbling, “What’s the right thing to do? You already know.”
I have not always made the right choice. In fact, I very often make a lot of bad choices, but I have managed to learn a few things along the way and that’s what I’m sharing so maybe you can make better choices than me.
- The right choice is rarely, if ever, the easy choice. Sleep on it if you need to, pray about it, talk it out, make your lists, consider all the options patiently.
- What is right for me may not be right for everybody else. I’m the one that has to live with my choices, not everybody else. Make the choice I can live with.
- For every action you choose to make, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Whether it is a reward or consequence depends on the choice you make. Sometimes even the right choice will bring consequences rather than rewards; make the right choice anyway.
- Sometimes there can be more than one right answer. In these cases, do the most good, not what is good for most.
- A bad choice today doesn’t mean you have to continue making bad choices tomorrow and the next day. You can start fresh and leave that bad choice in the past, and make better choices tomorrow and the next day. That isn’t to say that the consequences will not follow you. It simply means you can choose to just keep doing the next right thing even while paying you consequences.
- Lastly, if you don’t like the way that choice makes you feel when it’s all said and done, if you find that maybe you made the wrong choice, you always have another choice to make. You can always swallow your pride and make amends where necessary. You can accept a lesson in humility and let it embed itself in your heart so you don’t make the same bad choice again.
It seems simple enough when I see the words in black and white, yet in my adulthood, I have discovered that not everybody has been taught to reflect on a character-building question when they find themselves at a moral crossroads. This is my favorite “dad taught” lesson because it is always relevant. It is always changing and evolving with how my life has changed and evolved from childhood into adulthood and wifehood and motherhood. Do you have any character-building questions you remind yourself of when faced with a dilemma? Are there any special habits you try to teach your kiddos to help them be confident in their own character and decision-making skills? Share the magic, please.
Happy decision-making, peeps. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Baton Rouge born and raised, stay-at-home mom of two–Justin (4) and Bennett (1). Jolie spends her days hauling them to playgrounds, speech therapy, parks, and anything else to wear them out by bedtime. With any extra free time, Jolie loves spending time with her hubs, catching up with the girls, and watching serial killer documentaries.