Nothing in life comes free. Every behavior has a consequence. It’s easy to go through life making decisions thinking that we’re doing what is best for us. However, in making these fleeting decisions, we often fail to really think through how one decision affects other aspects of our lives. Let me give you a few examples…
- One choice in our family life can affect our social relationships. The choice to work outside the home more can affect the quality of our marriages. We think that taking the great job with the fancy title and better pay will be able to provide more stability for our family. However, what may not be as obvious is that, in doing so, we may have less quality time with our family, which may create tension between us and our spouse, and distance ourselves from our kids.
- We think that by taking that one-year long commitment to go work in France will be the time of our life. But we may not know anyone in France and not realize that it may take some work to develop those social relationships. Being away for that long may affect our relationships back home.
- We think that by being more of a disciplinarian for our children than a friend, our kids would learn manners, respect, and honor. However, we may not realize that our children may grow up afraid of us because they didn’t have the secure attachment they needed. Or perhaps our kids get the message that it’s more important to have everything perfectly in order than it is to
Now let me clarify these statements and say that none of them are black and white. There are as many types of people as there are possibilities. These examples are not direct cause-effect chains. I say them to get you thinking about how your choices are affecting your life. We can be both a disciplinarian and a friend. We can be both adventurous and still maintain our roots. We can begin working outside the home and still maintain our household. We can create the life we want and learn to draw boundaries on our choices. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. To read more about this topic, check out our previous post on being dialectical. Can we tolerate two different, seemingly opposite positions?
These examples are hypotheticals to show that we all operate within systems that affect one another. We think that the one decision that we’re making for ourselves or for our family is something that is good for us, and it may be. However, let’s also think about what else is being affected by that one decision? Have you thought about how it might affect your relationships, kids, and friendships. Think about what some of the costs of your decision are and whether your decision justifies the costs. Think about how much of the cost you’re willing to absorb. And lastly, make sure that whatever decision you make, it’s aligned with what you ultimately want out of your life.
For those of you still with me who want to earn extra credit on this topic, let me take it one level deeper. A hinderance to some of these types of thoughts and decisions are our attempts to think that “If just this one thing was fixed, everything would be perfect!” “If we were just able to get a job that paid $5 extra per hour.” “If we were able to just have more peace in the home.” This is related to the hedonic treadmill in some ways and how we think that this one small change will make us happy (click here for more on this). In actuality, we adjust and build tolerance to that thing we think will make us happy, and then we strive for something else. Let us accept and be grateful for where we are and begin to move forward with the goals we want.
So what is the cost of your behavior? Have you been making decisions in isolation, not realizing how it’s affecting all the other areas of your life?
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- The Compound Effect: How Your Daily Choices Affect Your Life – Part 1!
- The Compound Effect: How Your Daily Choices Affect Your Life – Part 2!
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Rubin Khoddam, Clinical Psychology PhD student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.
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