Choice: Why? or Why not?

When faced with a choice, what’s your natural approach: do you see the reasons why to move forward or the reasons why not to move ahead? 

One of the things I find interesting is how differently people react to choices presented to them. Some see possibilities while others see obstacles. In other words, some see the reasons why to move forward while others see the reasons not to. The reality is that both are essential to good decisions.

So, assuming that I’m correct that both perspectives are essential for good decisions, why am I writing about this topic? The simple answer is that we’re often not aware of these natural tendencies. Consequently, the choices we make are often not as good as they could be if we balanced our natural tendency with the other perspective.

We can see this more clearly when we examine both tendencies in greater detail.


Those who initially see only the possibilities can easily overlook the risks associated with their choice…and there are always risks involved. Indeed, every choice we make is inherently one of  tradeoffs between the advantages and disadvantages of that course of action. When we fail to contemplate the disadvantages associated with the choice we’re facing, we open the door to unanticipated, potentially significant risks.

In the moment of excitement at the possibilities that exist, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not investigating the potential risks involved in that choice.

Why not?

People who naturally see all the reasons why not to make the choice facing them overlook the possibilities that exist. Unless they balance all the reasons why not to move forward with an exploration of the advantages that can be had by moving forward, they forgo the benefits of opportunities available to them.

They also have a more difficult time seeing ways of overcoming the obstacles their gut reaction identified; something much easier for the “why” people to see.

Balancing the scale

The best choices we make are when we examine both the reasons why and why not to take a given course of action. As was stated earlier, every choice involves tradeoffs. There are no perfect solutions, no choices bereft of either advantages or disadvantages. By nature, choices involve tradeoffs. So let’s make them wisely.

For you

Pay attention to your natural tendency when choices are presented to you. If your tendency is to see possibilities, allow that to occur naturally. Then ask yourself “What risks are associated with this choice? What obstacles might I be overlooking?” As you pose these questions to yourself you’ll find that your emotions subside and you become more objective in your analysis of the choice facing you.

If your tendency is to see obstacles and risks, you too should allow them to occur naturally. In your case the questions you need to ask yourself are: “What advantages can I gain from this opportunity? How can I overcome the obstacles and mitigate the risks I’m seeing?” You will find that these questions alleviate your fears and allow you to make a more objective choice based upon a balanced evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages this choice affords.

For our kids

As you see your kids demonstrate their natural tendency of seeing why or why not, make them aware of their tendency without implying any judgment as to whether one tendency is better than the other. They’re both natural and both essential in making good decisions.

Once you’ve identified their natural tendency and made them aware of it, pose the questions indicated for their natural tendency. It’ll help them develop the habit of evaluating both the advantages and disadvantages involved in the choice they’re about to make. It will also make them keenly aware that every choice is a tradeoff between advantages and disadvantages.

As a result they will make better choices throughout their lives and be happier with the choices they’ve made. And they’ll thank you for making their lives so much easier and enjoyable.

Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

Readers would love to see your thoughts and experiences in a comment, please share them in the comment box below.

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