Two types of decisions


All decisions are not created equal. Examining my own choices I have a theory of two extremes with a sliding scale in between. The two extremes are passive and active decisions. Active decisions are taken at your own initiative while passive decisions require a decision to be made. An example of a good active decision would be sitting at home without any obligations for the day and deciding to go on a run. It is not required by anyone that you go for a run, you do it purely because it is beneficial to yourself. Either because it feels good or because you know that it is good for your body, or a mix of the two. An example of a passive decision would be picking your elective subject for this semester. There is a set time-frame that you have to make the decision in and the number of choices are limited. The active decisions are often harder to make as there is no accountability to any external force involved and that the number of choices that can be made are practically limitless. You can go for a walk, run, bikeride, play the guitar, buy new socks, learn to paint, write a poem, learn to paint and infinitely many more things. Structure is required to make a meaningful choice. There are also decisions that are a mix of active and passive and many chores fall in this category. You have to do the dishes eventually or you will run out of forks, but you do not really have to do it right now. It is the same with laundry and house cleaning. Choosing what and where to study and similar ‘key decisions’ also fall in between. You can of course take another path than studying, but for a lot of people studying is a given and so the choice is in a sense already made. However, the amount of study programs and universities in the world is so vast it would take a lifetime to look through it all. But, as the years go on the need to get an education and then a job becomes more pressing for most and so like the chores you have to make a decision in the end. Making no decision is also always a choice, but I do not think anyone would count drifting through life without doing anything a fulfilling existence. There already exist tools to help you make passive decisions. Career counselors, study counselors and quizzes that help you decide which political party to vote for. However I am not aware of any tools that help you make good active decisions except for your own discipline. Often we know what the best thing to do is, we just do not really want to and cannot force ourselves to do it every time. It would be interesting trying to create a tool that helps you make good active decisions.


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