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Not Deciding Is Deciding

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

One of the best things a parent can do for a child is help them develop the ability to make decisions. This sometimes involves close council when stakes are high and other times it involves letting the child learn from making decisions on their own - for better or worse.

My parents taught me a lot about decision making, and I have taken a greater interest in the topic since having children of my own. When I am faced with a decision in my own life I often hear my mother’s voice saying, “Not deciding is deciding.” Those four words hold so much truth. It’s the kind of statement you know is right, but it is difficult to hear in the moment.

Not deciding is like driving on a familiar road. You can choose to stay on the road, but you have many options. You could turn at a crossroad, pull over to enjoy the scenery, get out and walk, or a host of other options. The choices we make every day to stay on the same road or make a change are both decisions.

After I finished my MBA, I talked to those close to me for years about going back to school to earn my PhD. Every year that passed where I didn’t research programs or apply was a decision not to go back to school. I am not suggesting that waiting seven years to go back was good or bad, but it was a decision.

When we don’t decide, we are consciously or unconsciously choosing something else.

Sometimes not deciding is noble. Sometimes it’s not. Not deciding to walk away from a relationship could be choosing loyalty over ego. But it could also mean choosing a convenient life over the life of your dreams.

People often seek my advice about decisions that involve change. I wonder what it would look like if we spent more time questioning our daily habits - those decisions we make each day to keep things the same.

Consider some of the ways I have not decided at different times in my life:

Not deciding to read was choosing to consume social media.

Not deciding to spend time with people I love was deciding something else was more important.

Not deciding to help others in need was choosing self preservation.

Not deciding to live my values was choosing different values.

Can you relate to any of these? What in your life are you not deciding about?

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