Who Is Making Your Decisions?

Welcome to our monthly newsletter. This time I would like to help everyone to become more consciously aware of who is actually making our decisions on a daily basis, financially or not. You will be surprised to find out that most of the time it is not you. Let me explain.

Let’s say we could loosely put the factors affecting your decisions into two categories: internal and external. Internal factors can be defined as your own personal desires and your own life conditions. External factors can be defined as other people’s desires and their conditions. We can say that if your decisions are being made due to internal factors, then you are the one who has made the decision. But we can also say that if your decisions are being made due to external factors, then you are not really the one who has made the decision.

Let’s take a look at the following situations and see if you can identify in them who has really made the decision:

  • An employee: you have decided in your current job not to put in the required effort or do your best, because your manager (i.e. an external factor) does not appreciate your work, or your employer (i.e. another external factor) doesn’t pay you enough.

  • An employer: you have decided to no longer put in any effort to train your staff, because some prior staff (i.e. an external factor) have left you and taken your clients with them.

  • A business partner: you have chosen not to proactively create extra value for the partnership unless more financial incentive is put on the table, because you feel your share in the partnership (i.e. an external factor) is not significant enough.

  • A spouse: you have decided not to be the best partner you could be, because your spouse (i.e. an external factor) has failed to keep every promise made to you.

  • An investor: you have decided not to take action because you are waiting for the market (i.e. an external factor) to dictate your timing.

I’m sure you can clearly see from this how we can all walk through life making decisions that are no good for us over the long term purely because we didn’t like the external factors we found ourselves in. It is though we are thinking that if a dog bites you then you have to bite it back to feel better. We know logically this is not good for us, but our emotion usually gets the better of our mind in such circumstances.

So how do we get out of the emotion of this self-destructive behaviour so that we can actually start making our own decision without being affected by external factors?

Because our emotions can seem to act faster on us than our logical thinking, we need to change the primary questions we ask ourselves consciously to beat our emotional reflexes. A good primary question to ask could be “Am I bigger than my environment?” (Environment here can be defined as other’s opinions and behaviour, or external conditions such as barriers and challenges.)

Asking yourself this new primary question will help you separate your own decisions from the decisions forced upon you by the environment. For example, if the answer to this question is YES, you will find yourself acting quite differently in the above situations:

  • An employee: now you decide to put in the required effort or do your best whether or not your manager appreciates your work or your employer pays you enough.

  • An employer: now you decide to really train your staff without being concerned whether or not your staff will leave you or take your clients with them.

  • A business partner: now you decide to proactively create extra value for the partnership regardless of any more financial incentive or whether your share in the partnership is significant enough.

  • A spouse: now you decide to be the best partner you can be and keep every promise you make, regardless of whether your spouse keeps every promise they make.

  • An investor: now you decide to take the right action whenever you are ready, regardless of the market opinion.

You see, when you decide to be bigger than your environment, you will always be honouring the role you’re playing and doing your best. You will then always be the ultimate winner in any not so friendly circumstance.

Unfortunately for many of us, we often get dragged down by our environment, and spend too much time playing the “let’s see who can do worse” game. And we all know that the winner of that game is the ultimate loser in life.
Until next month, let’s all be bigger than our environment! ☺


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Investors Direct Financial Group (IDFG) was established in 2001.
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