Making a wrong decision can be good for you

November 1, 2012

Sometimes when we’re acting like Wafflers, it’s because we aren’t using our gut instinct to help us make a choice (see “How to use your gut instinct to make a decision”). Other times, it’s because we don’t trust our instinct. We’re afraid of making the wrong choice. Of not being perfect. Of failing. So we put it off.

Ironically, not deciding is a form of failure. In addition to giving up our right to decide, whether tiny (Should I order the fish or the beef?) or monumental (Should I relocate my family?), we miss the opportunity to learn from our decisions.

When you think about it, wrong decisions can help us make right decisions. I ordered the fish and learned that I prefer beef. I decided not to move my family and learned that we could use a change.

Taking it a step further, a wrong decision is just a detour to the right decision. The information we gain about what works and what doesn’t is required knowledge for making life better. We head in one direction, learn something, and if necessary, pivot and head in another direction.

This all sounds good on paper, but for serious Wafflers, some practice may be required to fully believe that making a wrong decision can help you make the right one. Start with a small choice, like choosing to not have a second helping of stuffing at Thanksgiving. You might regret it because it’s your favorite dish and you only get it once a year, in which case you’ll take seconds along with your first helping next time and be happier for it. Or, you may discover that limiting your stuffing intake avoided Thanksgiving bloat so you were able to play cards with your family instead of passing out on the couch after dinner. This example may sound silly, but if you approach your decisions as positive learning experiences, the fear of deciding will begin to dissolve.

As Will Rogers once said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”

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