On decisions

When making any decision, as human beings, it seems that we tend to overestimate its success.

One tends to assume that the decision will work out and eventually everything will go as planned.

However, on many occasions, one may not have thought out all the consequences. As a result, when the outcome does not work out or when something bad comes about, one gets frustrated and disheartened.

It seems that if the outcome is good, one is elated and if the outcome is bad, one is disheartened.

karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ’stvakarmaṇi

A rough translation is:

You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.

As Krishna advises Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita (chapter 2, verse 47), one should not confuse two separate things:

  • making the decision
  • the outcome of the above decision

The only aspect of the process under one’s control is the action itself.

While making the decision, keeping in mind that the outcome is usually not under our control, it is useful to slow down and break down the decision into smaller components.

Building a tree and assigning values to each component of the decision is a very helpful guide to making any decision. Especially for important and complicated decisions which carry substantial risk/reward, such an analysis can be helpful.