We live the decisions we make

We live the decisions we make

Ever so often, we hear people trying to make decisions and revising them time and again. Decision making is generally preceded by confusion, anxiety and also, in some cases, utter chaos. Some decisions are made, especially in the Indian scenario, the one I am most familiar with, with the entire family at large. Be it something as small as which tutorial the kid is going to, which car to buy, what colour to paint the walls, or even what to cook tonight!

Then again, in this whole gamut of things the accountability of a decision lies with one person. This is more so when the decisions are not about the trivialities of life, like which clothes to wear or where to go for dinner. I am, here, referring to decisions relating to careers, education, business and other such matters—decisions that impact a lot of our lives and do so in the long term.

What is a decision?

By definition it means: “to make a judgment or determine a preference; come to a conclusion”. This essentially means that one has X number of options and is going to choose from that. Sometimes the number X is large, sometimes it is just one. The former is where the confusion generally tends to linger. So how does one decide? How does one know if the decision is right? The “what ifs…” can be unnerving and drive one up the wall.

In my view, a decision is based on the knowledge one has. And thus emerges the term “make a well-informed decision”. Let us take an example here of a person travelling from place A, say Bangalore, to place B, say New Delhi. Now the options one has would be to take a flight, take the train, drive down, and maybe even take a bus. In a normal scenario, one would also consider factors such as the budget and amount of time available for the trip, the convenience of travel, etc. The knowledge I mentioned would be basic information such as how long the flight will take, how much it will cost and how long it will take to reach the destination. All of this, once known, helps one decide what the best option is for him/her. Then of course, there are other details such as which airline one would fly, or whether one would fly first class or economy. Again, this would be based on the comfort level one seeks and how much he/she is willing to spend on it.  Ditto for train or bus or a car.

Travel from place A to place B

Now consider what would happen if the person did not know the details of travel. He/she may just choose to fly New Delhi-Bangalore via New York, which happens to be a path routed halfway around the world, to get to a place barely 3 hours away. Technically, it is possible. It’d just cost 10X the amount of money and probably 20X the time! I know this may sound ridiculous to you if you know where Bangalore and New Delhi are located (In case you don’t know, they are in the south and north of India, respectively, about 1500km apart). Consider travelling from Melbourne to Sydney via London, if you are more familiar with those cities. I mention this for a reason, and you’ll know why as you continue reading the article.

How many people do we know who’d just go to the airport, have a look at the flights available, choose the best decision possible and take off? Not too many, is my guess. And if you do know of someone, there is a good chance that person has just way too much money and time to spare. Considering I don’t belong to that league, not yet at least, I shall not comment on that. Most individuals, when travelling, would first choose their destination, study the options available for getting there, for boarding and lodging, entertainment, as well as the weather at the time of the visit. Isn’t that true?

The big Q of life

Yet somehow I don’t see the same meticulous approach being applied to the way a lot of people plan out their careers, for instance. Most kids I speak to today, be it in higher secondary school or in college will answer, “What do you want to do in life?” with a “I want to do an MBA!”. (Of course not just MBA— I also get engineering or life sciences or something even fancier for an answer; I’m just taking on the wannabe-MBA clan for now—no offense guys, you are a smart bunch!) The look on their face is generally that of a person expecting “oh wow!” for an answer.

What do you want to do in your life?

To my surprise, they also get that reaction more often than not. I decided to be a little more inquisitive and asked “But why do you want to do an MBA?” “To get a good job” is a ready answer shot right back at me! “Ok,” I say to them and myself, and probe a little more, “What kind of a job do you want?” They will then rattle away names of some 5 MNCs, some fancy designations. Then my next question, and I love this one, is “But why would you want to do that?” Out comes a whole list of reasons, sometimes not as confidently as I got the earlier replies, including but not limited to—I love the field, I want to express my creativity, I want to excel in life, it pays really well, I think I’m good at it, it sounds challenging—every answer is very generic. Upon dwelling on the topic further, most people realize they are not even sure what they eventually want to be in life and why they’d want or not want to be a certain way.

Given this scenario, it is barely surprising that decision making is difficult. Decisions are left for later. “We’ll see what happens then” is a brave attitude to carry, though not necessarily the smartest one. Like in the case of a traveler, if he missed his flight to Bangalore, he’d still have a destination and plenty of other options to choose from in terms of getting there. Imagine someone who had a ticket to Bangalore, missed his flight and is now wondering where to go. Now you may wonder what this has to do with decision making, but I believe it is entirely related to the topic. When you have a set goal, it is far simpler to make decisions. Only with a goal do facts and figures make any sense. Every decision one makes is then based on “Will this take me closer to where I want to get, or otherwise?” It becomes easier to say yes and to say no.

“Is it the right decision or not?”

My own little experience says only time will tell how good or bad a decision is. And how that time goes by is in one’s own hands! If one chose to go into business as an entrepreneur and did really well, it was a good decision. If he came out a loser, maybe the decision wasn’t that great. Maybe the person didn’t make the right decisions as an entrepreneur. Whichever way one looks at it, it is the decision that one made. If I decided to work with a certain client and he caused my company to go bankrupt, it still remains my decision that I chose to work with the guy and let him ruin me. So I am responsible for what happened to me on the onus of my own decision.

A goal, of course, can be anything at all. It may be “I want to eat a burger today”, for all you care! But since you know it’s got to be a burger, you can look up the yellow pages, take references of restaurants from friends, read reviews on the internet, reach your nearest outlet and eventually get your burger. Ditto, for buying something, meeting someone, doing anything at all! If you know exactly what you want to use/do it for, you’d be able to decide better. If you want to buy a car to show it off, get a nice bling machine. Who cares if it barely has any go or guzzles gas—the point is it should look good because it’s meant for you to show off. If you want a car to get you from point A to point B and do so in some basic style, then you’d probably choose a different car from the one I mentioned earlier. You can take up as many instances as you like, and be it a right or a wrong, it will boil down to a few decisions. The point is whether one has the courage to accept it that way. A decision is never just one decision. Its implementation brings about many more situations that call for decision making, like a heading and a subheading.

It sounds like a lot of work, making oh-so-many decisions, every step of the way, but I’ve learnt otherwise. One makes many decisions almost without thinking. And it is, of course, nice that way. Then again, it is worth a relook at times. I’m not always a firm believer of if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it. I like doing my own little upgrades from time to time. Interestingly, I found my answer to “Why do we need to study history in school” in this theory. The idea is for us to know our past and make informed decisions. The manner in which we Indians are taught history, or anything else for that matter, is again debatable but that’s not important here.


Life, as we have it, has options for us every step of the way. We are the ones who choose, who decide and live those decisions. In a nutshell, get the facts right, understand the options, weigh them against the resources available/affordable and evaluate them with respect to the goal. Once you do all of these, you’ll find out it actually is as simple as it sounds! The more important matter then becomes to implement that decision well and make the most of it!


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About the Author:

A young, ambitious, first generation Indian engineer-turned-entrepreneur. Keen on maintaining high values, ethics and constant learning about life and its meaning to oneself. A believer that happiness comes above all. If you’d like to connect with him, follow him on Twitter: @abimaks

  • Aditya

    Interesting post. I don’t agree with the “meticulous planning” bit because its a question of perspective – to you and others life must be a series of milestones, the A and B points you’ve used to explain your point. For a minority (like me), life is more about the journey, and a milestone is only slightly better than the place between two milestones. :) But no arguments about the rants above – MBA or education are the means for a good life, not the end itself. Neither is a job. Not for me at least.

    • abhijeet makhijani

      Hi Aditya,
      Thanks for being the first one to comment on my first ever blog post. totally appreciate your effort in reading it and also goin ahead to comment on it.

      N yes, i agree with you when u say the journey is as important as the destination, in fact sometimes its a lot more so. i wasnt exactly talkin about meticulous planning here (cuz, personally i’m the last one to do so) … this is more about making decisions and how having good knowledge helps that. :-)


  • Santanu Paul

    Nice read. The only thing stopping you from being happy is You. As long as what you are doing is not morally wrong and you are not running away from your civic responsibilities, you should always follow your heart and take decisions that make you happy, and not satisfy some of the social norms.

    • abhijeet makhijani

      couldn’t agree more Santanu! :-) thanks for droppin in to read this one and also takin time out to put a few words down.


  • Rajat Gupta

    Firstly, very nice article. It took me some time to get that because of its length. Most of our decisions are based on knowledge that we gain from talking to people or seeing them in life.
    Secondly, Abhijeet!!! Next time you speak to a kid and if he says I want to do MBA, please don’t interrogate him. Guide him and ask him to talk to people and gain more knowledge. :)

  • abhijeet makhijani

    thanks Rajat….! for reading in and leaving your thoughts behind. n yes…, i wont interrogate the kid but i’d do my set of questions anyways in the hope that he finds the answers as he goes along with his ‘plan’. :-)

  • Surabhi Chaturvedi

    Hey Abhi… definitely and good detailed read…

    I agree on the “how good or bad is the decision” and the impact and association of the in-numerous “what-ifs”, yet I believe that not every step in life can be as calculated and structured as a tutorial :)

    I guess there’s no fun if we try and play safe! fun lies in hit and trial…

    Follow your instincts and take responsibility of your actions and doings is my motto! :)

    Nice article though!

    • abhijeet makhijani

      i agree surabhi… the fun factor is what makes it all worthwhile. the article though was intended to bring out not jus how one makes a decision but also how one needs to take the responsibility of his/her decisions…. not sure how much i succeeded in that.

      thanks for your feedback… it’ll really help with my write ups in the future.


  • Namz

    great start to ur own blog!:) something i really needed to read right now!:)

    • abhijeet makhijani

      thanks namz! watch this space for more…

  • Pavneet

    For a first-timer you are amazing.Clear and focussed ; succinct without incomprehensible jargon.You really do understand human psychology well. Can’t wait for you to write an excellent self-help book!:-)

    • abhijeet makhijani

      thank pavneet!

  • Meetali

    Nice one, Abhi. The MBA analogy is apt for relating to goals. We seem to be mistaking the process with the goal. That’s probably because the goal is always hard to visualise without the self awareness that it requires. We need to look inward first to look outward better.
    Lovely read. Do connect when you get to Bangalore.

    • abhijeet makhijani

      thanks meetali… for you time to read this one and also for the comments. i remembered a lotta kids from the counseling days as i was writing this one. a lot that i learnt comes from back then, maturing over the years to this date :-).will connect once m in blr. thanks again.

  • Prado

    Hey Abi .. Lovely Article. Liked the MBA bit. Most of the people I have met are interested in their MBA only for money and to get a good job. Absolutely none of them what they have studied at work !

    Cheers long way to go :)

    • abhijeet makhijani

      thanks prado!! you really kno this well managing a team, dont you? :-)

  • Shreya Suresh

    Good one Abhi! You were so right about the career choices these days. In all of this quest for money and fame, passion is lost along the way. I personally feel most people are in denial about the choices they make and have an incessant need to assign reasonable causes to it just to appear proper in their conscience. Anyway it was a great read :)

  • harshita s

    Nice and interesting too

    • abhijeet makhijani

      thanks Harshita!

  • vitabis

    Your piece was a fun read. :)
    It reminded me of a some recent psychology research that suggests that people always make the best decisions while not thinking about the problem. (My grammar in english is horrible, i’m sorry).

    Here’s a good read about it:

    hope you like it :)

  • Anonymous

    Interesting read. Would love to debate about, how one arrives at the right decision for oneself. Is it only what logically feels right after researching, weighing pros n cons OR Sometimes its just the gut feeling. As I find myself more than often making a decision which is not entirely based on logic, but ‘feels right’ and makes me happy. In most cases it does turn out to be the right one. :)

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