The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our decisions. It is not the only factor, but our choices are the threads that weave the tapestry of our existence. Yet, as we go through life, we often fail to anticipate how those threads will unravel with profound consequences for our life or the lives of others. Even our society or the earth.
Our cognitive biases and temporal short-sightedness hinder our ability to grasp the profound ramifications of our present actions. Our minds are anchored to the immediate. We make plain things that are complex. We believe, erroneously that we are invulnerable, invincible or that potential negative outcomes are unlikely or even figments of our imagination. In times of ease, we extrapolate our good fortune.
So, we struggle to foresee the distant implications of today’s choices.
Our default settings do not set us up for long-term success and wellness. We will drink that extra glass of wine, forgetting the after-effect of the next morning. We will forego a workout now, not thinking about the implications it has on healthy ageing. We’ll spend too much money on holiday, not factoring in the impact on our savings for retirement. We’ll continue our consumption habits, not considering the impact on the environment for the next generation.
But there is another side to this too.
There exists beauty in not being able to foresee the implications of all our actions. It is how we learn and evolve – by understanding the consequence of our choices. In experiencing and understanding our humanity, our basic make-up, we have an opportunity to learn and, crucially, set ourselves up for good outcomes. We can balance the here-and-now with the future. We can solicit help from people who will keep us accountable for our long-term dreams.
We must know this about ourselves. We are not made to make good choices for good long-term outcomes. Accept and work with it to set yourself up for a good life.
PS: And of course, life should also never be without spontaneity and surprise either. But more on that another time!