How to Make Hard Choices

Time and again, a great TED talk by Ruth Change on how to make hard choices has helped me choose (note that I’m not using the word ‘better’. Details later). Due to its importance in our lives, I embed the video here and then describe a short summary.

  • We fear the unknown. However, even if we had full information for both choices, one of them is not necessarily better than the other.
  • Both choices are not equally good, otherwise raising salary for the job of banker, for example, makes it better than being an artist, which is clearly not true.
  • We fail to differentiate the scientific quantities with value, which is impossible to measure.
  • If value could be measured like length, there would be only 3 possibilities: equal, better or worse.

Alternatives are on a par – they are in the same neighborhood of value, but very different in kind of value they provide.

  • A world of only easy choices will enslave us to reason (every time, choose the best option).
  • Each of one of us has the power to create reasons. We make reasons ourselves, become the authors of our own lives.
  • What we do in hard choices is very much up to us, how we define ourselves.
  • There is no best alternative. Instead, see the choice as a fork in the road, an opportunity to choose who you really want to be. The alternative is to be a drifter, one of those people who allow the world to write the story of their lives.

There is some great insight in her concluding remarks.

Hard choices are precious opportunities to create reasons for ourselves and know the person we truly are.

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