What Is A Decision?
Some people contend, that in it's simplest form, life is a series of choices. This is, in some sense, true. Except that it's not that simple, because life itself is not that simple. The complexity of life or, rather, living a life, means that the choices the average individual faces over the course of a lifetime are equally complex.
These choices range from simple survival decisions (Should I eat that mushroom?), to difficult moral personal choices (Should I speak out against this injustice and incur increased personal risk?) Obviously, the one thing that all these decisions have in common are the option of choosing action and outcome. However, because the nature of of these various actions, and their potential outcomes, vary wildly, no one strategy can encompass the process of deciding between them This is where an understanding of what a decision is becomes important.
A decision is, of course, the action of deciding something. A person faced with a choice, makes a choice. The most basic example of this is the proverbial fork in the road. When facing a fork in the road, you have the choice of going left or going right. You stop for a period of time while you think, then you decide to go either left or right. Once the decision has been made you take the path you've chosen.
That's straightforward and obvious, right? To some extent, the answer to that question is yes. To a greater extent, however, the answer is no. To become a more efficient and more focused decision maker, you need to understand all the processes that went into making the simple decision above.
First, there was a problem. The path you were walking on divided into two. Second, there was the nature of the problem. Because the path divided, you were forced to go either left or right to reach your destination. Third, you needed to choose between these two options in order to continue. Fourth, you utilized your experience, knowledge and intuition to decide which option was best suited to your needs. Fifth, you actually made the decision. Finally, you, once again, began moving forward towards your destination based on that decision.
As you can see, the simplest of decisions entails a number of steps. In most cases, we handle these steps subconsciously, without really being aware of what it is we are doing. When the decision we are faced with is simple, this "autopilot" method of choosing isn't a problem. However, when more complex decisions need to be made, not understanding the process can give rise to difficulties.