What drives decision making?

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“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.” – Tony Robbins

Decisions — we make them every day. And with every decision we make (good or bad), our lives are defined just a little more, because decisions ultimately shape our destiny.

Knowing this, why do some of us continue to make questionable decisions? It might seem like the proverbial angel and devil on each shoulder who want to sway you in one direction or the other. It’s a question of self-control.

But what drives decision making – really?

As Tony Robbins says, every decision we make is dependent on our values. We make decisions that lean toward pleasure. We also make decisions that move us away from things we’ve determined are not as pleasurable. The need to avoid pain and seek pleasure drives everything we do – and as Tony says, “People will do more to avoid pain than they will do to gain pleasure.” What lengths will we go to? It all depends on our standards and our focus.

What drives decision making?

Better decision making begins with self-awareness – the ability to identify and express our emotions and thoughts. Learning what drives our decisions is the first step toward total control of our emotions – and lives. There are three surprising factors that drive all the decisions we make.

1. Your focus

What you focus on, you feel – and it’s what drives decision making like nothing else can. Will you make decisions out of fear, or out of positivity, hope and love? Will you focus on the past and let it define you, or will you let it go? Tony explains that every moment of our lives, we’re answering three crucial questions.

The first question is, what are you going to focus on? Do you focus on what you can control or what you can’t control? To engage in better decision making, we must shift our focus to what we can control. Do you focus more on things from the past, present or future? To enjoy the moment and build an extraordinary future, you must balance between present and future – but let go of the past.

The second question is, what meaning will you give to this experience? Is this the end or the beginning? Is this a punishment or a gift? Meaning is everything, and it defines the third question: What am I going to do with this experience? If you think you’re being punished, you’re going to react in a different way than if you’re seeing it as a gift. You are the architect of your life – and the way you choose to experience that life is what drives your decisions,

2. Your standards

Many people think that what drives decision making is a matter of self-control. But studies have shown that self-control is either hard wired or it’s not, and it can be depleted. Therefore, self-control is not as reliable as our standards. Higher standards lead to better decision making. Raise your standards, or make a shift in your beliefs and values, and then you will make the right choices.

When you have a decision – whether it’s straightforward or complicated – you often know what the correct choice is, but what option do you choose? The difference between two people who make opposite decisions in any given scenario is their own standards. To write that report, grab that cookie – or not. It’s all dependent on how high your standards are.

3. Your hunger

Ultimately, what drives decision making is also linked to the level of hunger you have. Achievers, those people who are determined to succeed, have a hunger for success and as such will make better decisions because their standards are so high. It’s not self-control, it’s their high standards that pushes them forward.

Achievers use failure to push through instead of letting it push them down. Someone on the other end of the spectrum might blame their failures on lack of self-control, but they don’t have the hunger or the high level of values to push through.

However, these values can be learned. Raising your standards, values or beliefs is not as hard as it may seem. Did you ever think about where your values come from? They come from other people. It’s said that we take a little piece of everyone we have in our lives. You decided to keep the values and standards of various people you like, unconsciously modeling them and rejecting the values you didn’t like.

Decisions shape destiny – and right now, you may have a set of standards that isn’t working for you. You can change them by consciously evaluating what drives your decisions, keeping what works and getting rid of what doesn’t.

a man in a blue shirt is watching a baseball game from the stands .
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