Life is a tree of decisions, each one turns us in a new direction, choices are unavoidable and they always find us. That complicated comparison machine that we each have in our heads, is there for the purpose of decision-making. It is so inevitable and part of being a human that we have to make choices that nature selected it for us as the essential trait for survival, natural selection does not waste resources, decisions are an integral characteristic and essential element of our existence. Despite this, making decisions is hard enough in a simple world, in modern life, we are overstimulated and we only ever have an imperfect, incomplete set of information with which to achieve uncertain goals. Once catching a fish was a successful decision because you got to eat, now you have to consider ethics, sustainability, economics, health and that is just to start the list.
There are many ways of making a decision, the one which is the most fun is the Viking method, of never committing to a decision until it has been considered with both a sober and a drunk mind. It insured that any decision had to be discussed more than once, which prevented people rushing into a snap decision and considering the state of intoxication that a majority of Vikings enjoyed most of the time, it was probably a safety valve that prevented regret for many people. It certainly had an inherent advantage that it was safe for Vikings to wholeheartedly discuss things without having to oblige themselves, as we have social minds that require us to speak our minds out loud to friends without the fear of social rejection and so that we can gauge the true, honest micro-reactions of other people to our ideas and adjust them towards the social norms of whatever society we happened to be in.
Of course, in the age of social media and our an infantile need for likes (totally guilty of this one), we are not only less able to moderate ourselves by micro-reactions and instead heavily edit these public thoughts so that they are so bland they cannot possibly offend. Which is not a problem if you also have a group of close friends where you can have your first thought instead of a heavily edited second thought that is suitable for liking. However if your only form of social interaction is through social media, there is the risk of never having or learning how to use the micro-reactions of others to socialise yourself. The good news is that to do so you only need to practice, we have this skill hard-wired into our biology and it just needs to be activated, as without it we are in danger of using the worst kind of decision-making matrix, that of passivity.
Letting things be, through a “what will happen will happen” attitude, is still a decision-making strategy. It might have the advantage of offending no one, you might get to be a cool, laid-back person that stuff just happens to, but that is the problem as well, external events happen and you are just caught up in its drag, you are pulled along my life whilst being completely passive. You become a victim of circumstances who refuses to rescue themselves even when the consequences of not making a choice are severe. It might turn out fantastically for some people, at least on the surface, however it is effectively flipping the coin method of living your life depends on random chance and the thing about randomness is that some people can flip the coin hundred times in a row and get heads every time. However even if I had all the luck in the world, I would find it horribly sobering, to find out that I had had no effect on my life whatsoever, that I had no sense of agency in my own story and that an automaton could have been as successful in my life as I had.
That is kind of luck that you need for this strategy to succeed, even when it does work out, you still inherently lose something that is precious to the human experience, the sense being in control of your own life. That you actually made a difference, and to do so you have to make choices, you can only save a child from an icy pond by choosing to put yourself at risk, by making the decision to fish them out with a big stick. It does not have to be this dramatic but to make an impact in the world, you have to make a decision to be different, to find out what you are uniquely able to do in the world and then pursue it to the detriment of other things in life. You cannot actually get a philosophy degree from drinking in a pub, though I certainly have tried over the years, you have to decide that you are going to spend days of your life just reading a book (though if you want to look cool, you can pretend that you do not enjoy it) and you will have to study and take exams.
How do we make decision, once we have decided that we do not want our lives just to be random chance or have decided the Viking method might not be the best for our livers. First we have to recognise that there is an single best answer for everyone in every situation but only you know what it is, it is always personal, you might want to take regard to what your friends, family and society, would think of your decision but they do not get the casting vote. You absolutely have the presidential veto at your disposal at all times, you get to overrule anything like, you do not have to give reasons or even tell anyone that you have exercise your veto. No one can live your life for you, and your life situation is always unique, even down to your physiology, people can have different glucose reactions to different foods, whether we are introverted or extroverted is informed by our biology, how agreeable we are is baked into our DNA, how much we like risk will we find exhilarating or stressful. All this before we even get into social factors such as how much liberty we have in our freedom of choice, whether a society values community harmony highly and what is legal or acceptable, there are places where going on a pride march will get you killed though every society has limits on its tolerance.
However a blank piece of paper always has its advantages, even if you keep that blank piece of paper only in your mind. Give yourself permission to have any first thought you want to in your own mind, give yourself the freedom to imagine any possibility and most importantly give yourself time to mull over any decision, not at the expensive of making a decision, but just so you have time for your subconscious to work on your behalf. We often know what our decision is, we just have to find the reasons, but always trust your gut feelings, that inner voice that speaks with feeling and emotions is wise, if not often clear. If you are feeling resistance to something, poke at that feeling, it is a useful guide, if you ask the question why am I feeling that resistance, you can often find out interesting thing. By keeping your awareness open, and listening to yourself, you the opportunity to make better decisions, as well being more creative in problem solving. The blank piece of paper offers you the chance to state clearly what you want, where you want to get to, which can generate new ideas as to how to get there, even if it is by a more indirect route.
And if you are not sure, get more information, then give it time for your subconscious to think it over. Ask your subconscious for help, ask internal questions and see how they feel rather than what the mind thinks, remember your mind will generates every answer not necessarily only the correct answer, you have to use your feelings as well. Then trust yourself, you are going to make mistakes and one day they will be valuable lessons, once you start making decisions it gets easier because the cost of failure is never as high as inaction, and you only climb the decision tree one branch at a time.