Is there a more important skill to develop over the course of our lifetime than decision making? The 4th quarter of our lives brings truly critical decisions. How will we make those decisions? There are multiple underlying motivations that influence us. How will we navigate them to balance the many opportunities before us at this stage of life? I believe most would agree there are a great number of complex decisions. And we will have to make a few almost impossible choices as the years pass. There are, however, some very sound principles we can identify and apply as we head into our later years.
A great place to begin is to reinforce what your priorities really are. As Roy E. Disney said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” I encourage you to ask this question first: Who is most important for you to please?
- Is it God?
- Your spouse?
- Your kids?
- Your friends?
- Your church?
- Your parents
- Your community?
My hope is that pleasing God is most important to you and that you really mean it. IF you do, that provides your decision-making parameters. No matter the stage of life, decision making is ultimately about what’s most important. Today, the prevailing message is that WE are most important. We can be easily convinced that it’s about MY happiness, MY pleasure, and MY comfort. Quite frankly, this couldn’t be further from what Scripture teaches us about who is to receive our allegiance. Therefore, if God is truly first, shouldn’t the basis of our decision-making process be Him and His Word?
Motivations that Impact Our Decisions
We may all know the right answer to that question, but I’m afraid we often succumb to letting other things or people influence our choices. Examples of things that drive our decisions include our senses, emotions, and feelings. Our desire for comfort and the appeal of pleasure and beauty. In addition, fear of change, difficulty, or resignation to the status quo can debilitate us, and prevent us from experiencing the benefits of new things.
Support For A Decision Making Process
Unfortunately, the results of poor decisions made in the 4th quarter do not allow for as much time from which to recover. How we invest our assets or handle the sale of our home are just two weighty decisions that call for careful consideration. Another common and difficult decision in this stage of life is deciding if we will follow our kids should they move away, and if so, which one?
In these examples, there is seldom a clear right or wrong response, yet each choice has a huge impact on our lives. My goal in Part 1 of this topic is to make a case for the value of having a pre-determined process for Decision Making. A process that is wise and safe and offers protection against the vulnerability that can come with age. I hope I’ve given you some things to consider, and I hope you’ll return for Part 2, where I will provide practical suggestions for how to make good and healthy decisions during this critical stage of our lives.