What makes easy choices easy, and hard choices hard? That’s easy. With easy choices, there exists disparity in the perceived value of the options. The greater the disparity, the easier the choice. The one with the greatest value wins.
When I’m faced with tangible choices, such as chicken or fish, I generally choose chicken, because I prefer it. In my mind, one is better than the other. Easy choice. Would I rather take a walk in the outdoors, or hit the treadmill? The outdoors wins almost every time, except when the weather is really foul. I love to be outdoors, huge disparity in reward. Another easy choice.
I was watching a video by Ruth Chang, titled How to Make Hard Choices, it’s a fifteen-minute video, you may want to view it. I thought her “hard choice” description was perfect. She says that with most linear, or tangible decisions there are three choices; better, worse, or equal. But when it comes to personal value, there’s a fourth dimension, she refers to it as “on a par.” Not equal, where the benefits are the same, but on a par, where the benefits are quite dissimilar in nature or content, but on a par in terms of personal value.
Let’s say that you have a decision to make. One example Ruth offers is the choice of a job in the city or the country. Same job, equal benefits, so the determining factor is city or country. You look at the benefits of living in the city; cultural and population diversity, great restaurants, the ability to walk to many of your activities, high energy environment, rich in the arts. All of which you absolutely love.
Then you examine the country life options; peace and quiet, beautiful views, paths for walking and biking, surrounded by nature, a safe place for the kids to grow up, space. All of which you absolutely love. While the advantages to each are vastly different, in terms of personal value, they are on a par. That’s what creates a hard choice. No clear winner here. Certainly not equal choices, but instead, choices that are on a par.
We can get trapped into the binary thinking that one choice is “right” and the other is “wrong.” Wrong. There is no right or wrong choice, only two different choices that are on a par. How then do we make a decision?
Ruth says that it’s here in the space of hard choices that we get to exercise our power – the power to create reasons, and the power to create ourselves into the kind of person we want to become. We get to put ourselves behind an option. We become the authors of our own life.
When faced with the city or country choice. Since they are on a par, you can determine what kind of person do you want to become living the city life, verses what kind of person do you want to become living the country life? Sometimes the reasons that govern your choices as to correct or incorrect run out. As with this hard choice example, that’s when you become the author of your life, and you determine the distinctive person you will ultimately become in these two vastly different environments.
Ask yourself, “Who will I show up as in the city? Who will I show up as in the country?” You decide. There is no right or wrong decision to make here. There is only the opportunity to sculpt yourself into the expression of life you choose to be.
When faced with choices, determine which holds the most value. Then go with that one. However, when value is on a par, then the secret to making the hard decisions is to release the concept of right and wrong. There are simply choices to be made. Then make one with the vision of yourself becoming an authentic version of who you are.