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I hear people talk frequently about “good” and “bad” choices. Making a “right” decision and a “wrong” decision. The reality is, I’m not sure I’ve ever made many of either.

Yes, there are a few situations where it’s clear what to do. Tell the truth or cover up a lie with another lie? The truth is the right answer. Stop drinking after recognizing your alcoholism? Yep, time to stop drinking, and that’s the right thing to do.

But these are only a few of the many opportunities we have to make good vs. bad choices. For most of our choices, we aren’t faced with a “good” decision and a “bad” decision. Rather, we receive tradeoffs. Think about these common choices.

  • Pay the mechanic to fix the car instead of fixing it ourselves? You’ll be rewarded with valuable time and less stress, but it will cost money. Will the tradeoff be worth it?
  • Get up early to get a few extra things done before work? The lack of sleep and rest could be detrimental, but the chance to get things done might give you more peace and help you get ahead.
  • Start a business instead of going to college? This could help you create a valuable startup, avoid debt, and get ahead of the game, but it might mean experiencing less of the college social scene, and not having anything to put in the “education” section of your resume.

There’s no right answer to any of these questions. The reality is, you decide which tradeoffs are worth it. Chances are, if you’re stressed out, you’ve been choosing the wrong tradeoffs.

I have been stressed out. Tonight, I made some important decisions. I said “no” to a huge opportunity and decided to pay the mechanic. I feel less stressed now that I’ve managed my tradeoffs more effectively.

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