Whether we’re making decisions about our fictional stories (my writer readers) or our real life stories (all my readers), the tougher the choice, the tougher it can be to make. That’s because when choices have a similar number of pros and cons, we tend to ponder them longer. I’ve been on the cusp of making several difficult decisions lately, and my standby mechanism is a pros and cons list.
Well, I’ll be honest: the good ol’ pros and cons list ain’t cutting it.
I went looking for answers and found Philosophy Professor Ruth Yang talking about making hard choices on NPR, and she said, “Hard choices are hard not because of us or our ignorance. They’re hard because there is no best option.”
I was once resistant to that idea. I thought every hard choice had a perfect answer and I was just too dense to figure it out. Now I’m with Ruth. I think there are decisions with no clear best options, and those moments are opportunities to accept the possibility that we’ll choose wrong – and that it’s okay.
In Ruth’s words, making choices is a way to, “exercise our normative power. We can put our very selves behind an option. Here’s where I stand. Here’s who I am.” We have the power to create reason, meaning, and purpose. Hard choices are an opportunity to declare ourselves for something, even if we change our minds.
Ruth said she once pursued being a lawyer after weighing out all the pros and cons between law and philosophy on a legal pad. Law didn’t end up being a good fit, and she switched to what she’s doing now. I can identify. I’ve made many choices that didn’t end up being a good fit. I’m proud to say I’m empowered to make mistakes, so if that’s the key to all this, maybe I’ve got it in the bag. (Wink).
What about you? How do you make hard choices? Do you think there’s always a best choice?