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January 28, 2019

Bad Decisions: We Get What We Deserve by the Decisions We Make

We Get What We Deserve by the Decisions We Make

This is part 2 of We Get What We Deserve by the  Decisions We Make. This segment will focus on areas where making bad decisions can make life far more challenging than it already is and far less enjoyable than it should be. While misfortune strikes us all, it is important to avoid making bad decisions especially on top of any misfortune that comes our way.

bad decisionsAreas of Bad Decisions

The outcome of a bad decision does not go away overnight so you need to minimize the odds of making a bad decision. We all make bad decisions at times. Learn from them. Some bad decisions are irrelevant but the ones that are problematic center around:

  • Relationships
  • Career
  • Financial matters

Bad decisions in these areas will stick with you for a long time.

Relationships

We will focus on personal relationships here, not work relationships. The divorce rate in the United States is about 55%. So we are not doing a good job with making what is the biggest and most important decision of our lives.

There are fewer divorces with arranged marriages (4% to 6%) according to this article and this article. Most of us probably prefer to pick our mate rather than having that decision made for us, but our thought process and approach needs refinement and should be more analytical in nature than is typically given.

Keep in mind Gleb Tsipursky’s advice on when to make gut decisions and when to make more analytic decisions that we covered in the part 1 of We Get What We Deserve by the Decisions We Make.

Adversity

You have to see someone at their worst to really know them. Do they make life miserable for those around them?  Some individuals take setbacks out on those around them. Or, do they calmly deal with the situation in the most positive way possible? Do they remain pleasant and treated others appropriately when things are not going well?

In the previous article we discussed universal misfortunes. Going through some of these misfortunes early in life is beneficial. It builds character and prepares us for the next misfortune that hits. You want someone that can handle misfortune well.

It is important to see how someone reacts when misfortune hits or when they go through a rough period. Such circumstances will tell you more about a person than anything.  If you can witness your partner dealing with adversity first hand when dating then great. But that is not always possible, and you may not want to five to 10 years waiting for that moment to occur. So you may have to ask them what was the worst time of their life, how did they deal with it, and even talk to others who where there when they went through a rough patch to better gauge how they handled a tough situation.

Decisions of Convenience

Some marry the first decent person who comes by, or in the case of women, the first man who asks for their hand in marriage. Avoid making any major decision based on convenience. When it comes to marriage don’t settle for less than the person you want. Both men and women need to be more patient and more selective when choosing a spouse.

Relationships Take Work

You have to work at nurturing any relationship.

If you want to attract a particular person to be your life partner you have to make yourself attractive to them, and not just physically.  You have to make yourself attractive intellectually, emotionally, recreationally, and spiritually as well.

Then once you have that person you have to keep them. You do that by treating them exceptionally well while making yourself continually interesting. If you don’t treat someone well why should they stay with you?  Don’t let people get bored with you either, especially a loved one. If your spouse is tired of you, some of that falls on you.

Stay fascinating. Stay intriguing. Keep learning. Keep living life. Keep improving yourself. If you don’t do the former you won’t attract the person and if you don’t do the latter you won’t keep the person. But, if you do all of that you increase your odds of having a great relationship.

All of this involves decisions and then taking action.

Careers

It’s hard to know what to do for a career especially early in life. I was probably rare in that regard and probably not the best person to ask for advice.

But, here is my advice to my boys. Explore different things. Try different things. While you want to make a good living don’t get too caught up in making money. Find something that you have a natural gift for, something you have a strong interest in or passion, and something that when you are doing it, you lose track of time even forgetting to eat, because you are so into it. At least start there with your career search.

Know why you want to go into a given occupation or profession. This requires being honest with yourself and your reasons. You may find you are trying to please your parents or even emulate one of them when you have an entirely different skill set and interests than they do.

I know of a few individuals who once they got half way through medical school and even residency training decided medicine wasn’t for them. It’s good they found out, but it would have been nicer if they recognized that sooner in the process.

Keep learning. Don’t be afraid to try your hand at something you have little experience doing, yet you find intriguing. When I started this website my wife said, “You can’t do that, you don’t know what to do.” I replied very simply, “I’ll learn.” Then I decided to do it and I have been doing for nearly eight years. When I write these types of articles I lose track of time (the more medical based articles are sometimes boring to write as they are hard to creatively write.)

Suffice it to say, but many individuals do not like their work – enough – considering how much of the day works consumes. If all you are interested is making money, that’s fine, but realize that, and become the best you can at your occupation, and be willing to “suck it up” to get the paycheck to spend on those things that matter more to you.

Be sure to maintain a proper work-life balance that is consistent with your goals and objectives for life.

Once you possess a skill, it can never be taken away from you. In today’s world you need more than one skill or aptitude if you are going to stay employed. Keep developing new skills.

Recently, I heard that the amount of change that occurred from 1 AD to 2018 will occur in the next 100 years. Two-thousand years of change compressed into 100 years. The world (technology) is changing at neck breaking speed. Even the tech savvy youth will have to keep up with this change if they are going to stay employed.

So you have to keep learning. And, you have to study a future that has not yet arrived.

Financial matters

Live within your means but find creative ways to weave a quality lifestyle. Troubles occur when people overspend – we all know that and we all do it at times.

Buy quality items and then take good care of them. But, only buy enough quality for our purpose. You don’t need a swing set for your kids to last 100 years. Just five to seven years.

Spend money on creating memories. That’s all you are taking with you when you die, anyway – memories – so make a bunch of them. Forgo the 10 meals at McDonalds and splurge taking that special someone to a very nice dinner that you will remember long after the meal has been digested. A quality lifestyle is possible on a budget but it requires some discipline and delayed gratification.

Never begrudge spending money to improve yourself. Invest in yourself. You are your best asset. Continually improve yourself and be willing to spend money to do it. Spend money on learning how to make better decisions.

bad decisionsBad Decisions, Misfortune, and God

Some of my patients who have lived tough lives for decades bring up that either God is punishing them, or He is testing them and some day they will be rewarded.  God causing misfortune is a whole other discussion that I won’t go into. But, I am going to discuss Him in this section because I have patients that bring Him up.

I am not a theologian, but I wonder if God ever rewards bad decisions. When I try to understand God beyond bible teaching I think of Him as a parent. As a parent what does He want? Why does He want it? And why does He do what He does the way He does it?

As parents we want our kids to be happy and successful and live meaningful lives. We want them to grow and learn. We know they must be challenged to reach their full potential. While we realize there will be misfortune and suffering in their lives, we hope that it will not be prolonged. We hope they learn from their mistakes, preferably quickly.

I have to think God feels the same way towards us.

Biblical Job suffered much misfortune. Stuff he did not deserve. Short of death he suffered more than anyone. When you read his account you may conclude that he suffered for years. I researched this and discovered that there is general consensus among biblical scholars that Job suffered misfortune for less than one year. Some scholars peg his suffering at a few months, some at several months, but nearly all peg his suffering to be less than a year.

He suffered less than a year, not a lifetime. Why is that important? People who live a hard life much of their adult lives need to take a close look at their decision making process because it is probably exacerbating any misfortune that has come their way.

I have a patient who hates his government job that he has been doing for 17 years. New bosses and supervisors have come and gone, but his situation has not changed and he has no motivation to look for a new job. “It will get better,” he thinks. He thinks unwisely. The problem isn’t the job, the problem is him, more specifically, his thinking.

We all know individuals who have lived tough life for decades. They feel like they are Job. They feel their misfortune is their lot in life. They experience one bad thing after another. Yet, they seem to do very little to improve their situation – or at least do enough.

These individuals have made bad decisions on top of their misfortune that contribute to decades of pain and suffering. To a large degree they are victims of their own thinking and decisions and own inaction to free themselves from their situations.

I do believe God wants to see us tested as it helps us grow, but I think He prefers to see us learn the lesson quickly and not take 10, 20, 30, 40 years. I doubt He wants any of us to suffer any longer than necessary to grow and learn, anymore than you and I want our kids to suffer for any length of time. He only allowed Job to suffer no more than a year. Seeing His children suffer for decades I don’t think is in His plan.

Living tough lives for decades is self-inflicted, in my opinion. And, it is the result of bad decision making.

I may be wrong, but my hunch is that God doesn’t reward bad decisions. He may show mercy for the misfortune we suffer, but the bad decisions we make? That I am not so sure. At least, I would not count on that being the case.

Do you reward your kids for bad decisions?  I guess the more relevant question is should you reward your children for the bad decisions they make?  There is no growth without learning. Lessons need to be learned. Bad decisions should not be ignored nor rewarded.

Bad decisions have consequences. They have to. That is a lesson that needs to be learned early in life, which many young adults today have not learned due to current parenting and education practices where kids are sheltered from pain and setbacks. And, it is not healthy for them or society.

Not everyone gets a “good boy star”, or receives a trophy in the real world, nor should they. There are no safe zones in the real world – just on namby pamby college campuses that are about as far removed from the real world as possible, yet still be on this planet.

As Loretta (Cher) told Ronnie (Nicolas Cage) in Moonstruck, “Snap out of it.”  If bad decisions are taking the life of someone you know in the wrong direction, you need to tell them, “Snap out of it.” By the way, my college roommate, Thomas Imperato, worked on Moonstruck and several other notable movies.

I messed up

It is really hard to admit to ourselves that we have made a bad decision, which only delays addressing or correcting it. If anything, we “double down” making the situation worse. We either “prove” the decision wasn’t bad which usually only makes it worse, or we blame others, circumstances, or even God.

All of us from time to time need to look in the mirror and say, “I messed up.” Or, “It’s my fault.”  And, we then need to take corrective action. If you mess up the best thing you can do is say “I messed up.” There is really no come back to that statement other than “You sure did.” But, then you already knew that.

The Bad, The Good, The Great

If you want to live a tough life, complicate misfortune with bad decisions.

If you want to live a good life, consistently make conservative or minimally risky decisions.

If you want to live a great life, make consistently good decisions and be willing to make some well calculated risky decisions. Improve your odds for a great life. Go for it!

We get what we deserve by the decisions we make. 

Let’s stop there and pick up on We Get What We Deserve by the Decisions We Make with the third part of this article which will focus on life-changing decisions. 

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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