Thoughts on Behaviour and Choice

Every day we make thousands of choices.

We’re faced with questions of the likes of:

  • What should I do?
  • What should I say?
  • What should I wear?
  • How should I act?
  • Who should I talk to?
  • Where should I be?

And so on.

Yet, very rarely do we actually take the time to be highly conscious about these decisions.

And that is for good reason, we have a limited capacity for making choices every day and for that reason, we should save our cognitive energy for the essential questions.

In this post, I explore what led to me thinking about behaviour and choice, and what my conclusions were today about behaviour and choice.

Questioning My Own Behaviour

What brought me to writing about this topic, was myself thinking about my own behaviour.

Too often am I a hypocrite whose actions misalign with my own intentions. That is not to say that it is something I do constantly, but it is to say that I do it much more than I would like to.

So, as with any great problem, I began to question “Why?”

When thinking about why, my mind came across and got stuck on this idea that my behaviour is a function of the choices that I make, and my choices are a function of my previous behaviour, thereby making them a function of previous choices.

In simpler terms, I act the way that I do as a result of all of the choices that I made in my life leading up to this point.


Where Choice Comes From

Choice is about selecting an alternative to act upon from a set of alternatives that one might consider doing.

To be faced with a choice, one must be faced with a situation for which one might consider to engage in a multitude of behaviours. Again, as we generally make thousands of choices a day, it becomes evident that these situations are everywhere.

What We Do When Faced With Choice

When faced with choice, one considers what they want to accomplish, what alternatives are available to them, what the merits are of each alternative, and ultimately make a choice between the alternatives that they are faced with.

Generally, we do this much more subconsciously then we might first choose to think.

The result of us doing this quite subconsciously results in us:

  • Not recognizing what we truly want to achieve with our decision
  • Not considering all of the different alternatives available
  • Failing to understand all the merits of each alternative
  • Satisficing (choosing the “good enough” solution)

While all of these things seem less than optimal, since we make thousands of decisions everyday, we simply do not have enough energy to go through all decisions in enough depth to avoid these problems.

When we are faced with decisions that do matter, we can take time to truly think about what matters, what options are available, what the implications of each option is, and make good choices. So, that is what we should and often do!

In fact, it is too often that we actually end up spending energy on trivial decisions that do not matter all that much.

Allocating Energy to the Right Choices

Whenever we are faced with a choice, we should first questions how much the choice really matters. Once we understand that, we can allocated an appropriate amount of energy to the choice so that we can move forward with our day.

Repeated Decisions – Special Choices

Sometimes we are constantly faced with the same decision, in these scenarios it might be worthwhile to have pre-made our decisions in advance, perhaps on a day where we find ourselves having an abundance of energy that can be allocated to this pre-meditated decision making process.

Repeated decisions is about habit. Habit can be read about more in several of the other posts I have created on this blog.

Optimizing Behaviour by Optimizing Choice

Execution is generally the difference between those that find success and those that do not. We are all capable of having good ideas, but very few see those ideas become reality.

Moving forward, to optimize the way I behave so that I can live the best life I can for both myself and society, I must be intentional with the way I dedicate my energy to making choices.

At the same time, I must also work on my own health to optimize my ability to make quality choices.

By properly allocating energy to choices, I can and will be able to execute better than those around me.

More thoughts are to come. This is only the beginning.


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