Making a Choice And Making It Right

Years ago, when my middle son was in graduate school at Oregon State University, my husband, youngest son, and I visited him. We took a trip north from Corvallis, Oregon through Washington state. We hoped to see the sights of the Pacific Northwest.

We visited Portland, Mount Saint Helens, Lewis and Clark State Park, and other points of interest along the way to Seattle.

Late one afternoon we decided to stop for a bite to eat before reaching our destination. This was in the days before easy Google searches to locate a restaurant. The four of us could not decide the best course of action. We could not agree on a place to eat.

We turned down several potential eateries, continuing on our drive and getting hungrier and more agitated by the minute.

Finally, we stopped and got out of the car to explore the dining options in a harborside town, but our luck did not improve. We could find no suitable restaurants on which we could all concur. By that time, we were all hangry and tired. We could not decide where to eat dinner.

By that time, the shops in town were closing. In a fit of desperation, I approached a shop owner who was locking her door for the day and asked her to give me a recommendation.

She graciously gave me directions to a nearby restaurant. The place was perfect.

It was located right on the water with incredible harbor views. The menu was varied and the food delicious. We all found something appealing to eat.

In what might have been the biggest stroke of luck, the television above the bar featured the Phillies baseball game, even though we were 3,000 miles away from Philadelphia. And the Phillies were winning big.

We left the restaurant full, satisfied, and happy after a wonderful dinner and a Phillies win.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Making a decision, even a simple decision like where to have dinner is not always easy.

We complicate the procedure by bringing too much information into the mix. We believe collecting more data is beneficial, but by bringing too many options into the decision-making process, we actually make the decision much harder.

When there are several individuals involved in making the decision, we try to anticipate others’ wishes, which complicates the operation even more.

Throw in physical factors like hunger, discomfort, tiredness, and boredom, and the decision becomes even more agonizing.

And we don’t want to fail.

When we fear making a bad choice, the decision-making process becomes fraught with pitfalls.

In a recent post, I wrote about how the book Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel made a difficult decision easier for me to make.

Through a series of serendipitous occurrences, last month I was presented with the incredible opportunity to enter and run the London Marathon this fall. The offer included a reasonable price tag, no small factor for someone (like me) who pinches her pennies.

Initially, I included too many factors in the decision. Would my husband enjoy the trip? Will the pandemic allow international travel this fall? Do I want to subject myself to the rigors of marathon training?

Adding travel logistics into the mix made the decision even harder. Should we extend the trip to try to see more of the sights of London? How about adding a side trip to Scotland? Ireland? Flights? Hotels?

I found myself in the same position as my family was in when we tried to find a suitable place to eat. I was overwhelmed and unable to determine the best course of action.

Finally, using the techniques I learned in the book, I was able to ask the most pertinent question. What is the time limit for the marathon?

You see, the hamstring injury I suffered from for two years has not really gone away, it has just subsided. It reappears whenever I do a long run – say anything over 12 or 13 miles. Running a marathon definitely would stress the hamstring.

This was the most important factor I needed to consider before making my decision.

As it turns out, the London Marathon has a very generous time cutoff of 9.5 hours. I could walk 26.2 miles in that amount of time.

My plan right now is to run the first half of the marathon, then walk the second half of the race if my hamstring dictates it.

I can have the experience of participating in the London Marathon and be confident I can finish the race within the official time limit.

Reading the book gave me the tools to refine and streamline my decision-making process. It allowed me to ask the most relevant question. It got me past the quagmire of indecision.

If only I had read the book before we tried to find a restaurant all those years ago in Washington. We could have been eating sandwiches and watching the Phillies even sooner. And without all the angst.

“It’s not about making the right choice. It’s about making a choice and making it right.” – J. R. Rim

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91 comments

  1. That book was very beneficial to me, too, Laurie. When I first started reading it, I thought, a bit smugly, that I really didn’t need this advice. Boy, was I wrong! I’m so glad it helped you in weighing the pros and cons of the London marathon.
    Blessings!

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  2. Laurie, I love how you weave so much wisdom in your words. I love Washington state. My youngest lives in Spokane. London~wow. You’re such a great role model for me. And decision-making~such great advice. Happy Mother’s Day! 🤗💜🌸

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  3. We’ve been in that restaurant quandary many times ourselves. 😉 And the longer we wait to make the decision, the harder it becomes. I’m glad you found a good rubric for making your marathon decision and how exciting!!!

    Love that final quote from J.R. Rim. So true.

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  4. That’s so exciting. It is easy to overthink things.

    I knew what you would do. I would have done the same thing.

    I did the same with NYC. And I made the right choice.

    Not sure if I will run another…there’s the foot thing. But maybe and I would only do it for a BIG one.

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    • I think for those big marathons, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. I think we both made the right decision. We would always wonder if we should have gone for it if we had decided “no”.

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      • Right. Now I am thinking about maybe trying to get into NYC Marathon. I think I could get the half marathon time needed to bypass the lottery. I will have to check into it.

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      • I wish I could again. I qualified in 2019 and 2020. I decided to run it in 2020. Before I knew it would be cancelled. I am no longer that fast.

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      • I think they did not have qualifying times for the 2021 race. Maybe they will again in 2022. I haven’t run a half marathon in a while. Maybe I’m not that fast anymore either!

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      • not sure what they will do because those for the 2020 race can defer to 2021,22,or 23. I have to wait until I’m 70.

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  5. Oh you’re so right about too many choices causing us to become hamstrung. I guess that’s why you often see reference to decision fatigue and why successful people suggest you minimise the little decisions you have to make (what to wear, what to eat for breakfast) and do the same thing every day, to focus on the big decisions.

    I overthink my decisions all of the time.Mostly the little ones rather than the big ones!

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    • I was just dithering over a decision this weekend. I finally put it aside and thought about the stuff from the book. This morning I got up and easily made the decision. I am trying to eliminate as many decisions as possible by making them ahead of time.

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  6. What an interesting post and certainly on a topic I can very much relate to. I have a tendency to overthink things and make decision making more difficult than it should be. I love the example you used of several of you choosing somewhere to have dinner as that is a circumstance I have found myself in before. So glad you finally got your dinner and it was lovely! I think I should try and get my hands on that book by Anne Bogel as it sounds like it would be very helpful for me. Thank you!

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    • I was just overthinking a decision this weekend. I finally was able to put the insights I got from the book into play and make a decision this morning. It is a learning process! 🙂

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  7. Hi Laurie – I definitely need to find that book and have a read! I’m an over-thinker and although I’m more aware of it now and try to pull back when the process starts to spiral into a million what-if’s, I still have a fair way to go before I have a clear mind and manage to now worry about keeping everyone happy with the outcome (that adds several more layers to even the simplest decision!)

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    • I was just overthinking a decision this weekend when I reminded myself about things I learned in the book. This morning, I was able to easily make a decision. I still have a ways to go too.

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  8. That’s an excellent strategy: identifying the most important factor!
    I’ll make sure to remember that for my next difficult decision.

    I’m glad you decided to go, Laurie. I’m sure you will not need to walk all of the second half.

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  9. It has been said for a few decades that the over abundance of choices in modern society is extremely stressful. This over abundance goes from soap choices to life choices. Really I think to simplify life means cutting back on the choices by design. #MMBC

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  10. I’m so glad the book helped you narrow down all the factors in your decision-making to the most relevant one. Oh and the London Marathon sounds like such an awesome event! #MMBC

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  11. Making decisions is not easy even over small things like deciding where to eat. Going to a different country and running a marathon is a massive decision but what a great adventure for you. Good luck with it x

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  12. Even though I just read this book a few months ago, I feel like I need to read it again–or at least look over my review or flagged pages. I think the fact that we have access to SO much information these days complicates our decision-making even more.

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  13. I can so relate to that restaurant story! It’s never an easy choice to try a new restaurant with 5 eaters (two of whom are quite picky). I am so glad your book helped you make the right choice for you.

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  14. I laughed at the restaurant wandering story too. We do that – and the longer we don’t make the decision, the crankier we get. I recall one day in Penang where we’d got to the snapping at each other point and I stopped and announced we were heading into the next bar we saw to sit down, have a drink, and decide what’s next. It worked. And works for most decisions. I have a big decision to make at the moment and getting to the relevant question is the challenge. Once I’m at that point the rest should, I hope, fall into line.

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  15. That quote about making a choice and making it right is brilliant. Very thought provoking and inspiring!
    Oh, how much I can relate to that “finding a restaurant” decision! When my husband and myself travel in Italy (or also around in Ireland) we’re always like that. Sadly, it’s not because of overthinking anymore but because we need to find a place where there’s high probability they will have something coeliac friendly. Everything was so much easier in the past – then we could overthink it! But we also made spontaneous decisions which led us to the lovelies places you can imagine.
    Great news about the marathon – I hope it all works out well both with the trip and the actual run.

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    • I can imagine throwing one more variable into the mix would make the decision much harder. I have the same trouble when we are trying to get breakfast without added sugar! It’s difficult. I hope the trip works out too. Thank you!

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  16. Lol, overthinking is a marathon isn’t it ya brain hurts from going in too many directions at once. In our lifestyle here on the farm I have often struggled through a job left it completely flustered gone on with something else & funnily enough BAM. God sais try this instead & I’m like really you couldn’t tell me sooner, He sais well I couldn’t get a word in edgeways. We have these conversations often. Lol. I hope you have a happy hamstring leading up to & throughout the whole race. Have a wonderful rest of the week.

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    • That’s exactly what it feels like – my brain is going in too many directions at once! Ha! I love hearing your conversations with God.You have a wonderful rest of the week too!

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  17. Laurie, I feel your pain. 🙂 Seriously, the same situation about where to eat has caused many difficult family moments and date nights with my husband. The book sounds wonderful as I tend to be an overthinker. It’s the reason I often don’t test well, especially tricky multiple choice. Hope the marathan goes well, you will rock it I;m sure!

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    • So many commenters have said the same thing. Why is it so difficult for families to make a decision about where to eat? Thank you – I am hoping for the best for the marathon too.

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  18. Laurie, I am terrible at making dining choices and would love them to always be made for me 🙂 It may just be time for me to read the book!

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  19. Yay, that’s an option and you won’t be hurting from straining yourself Laurie and, like you said, you’re still immersed in the London Marathon and that’s the best part. It’s hard not to overthink anything. Our brains are used to sorting out and processing … it’s hard to focus and simplify things sometimes.

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  20. Don’t you just love it when something you know you do (and want not to as much) turns out to be very common to many AND then someone writes a book about it and becomes rich (guessing!). I am liking how that worked out for you over time!

    Thanks so much for linking up for Life This Week, reading the post on Knowing by my husband Bernard and for your kind words. He tells me, despite earlier thoughts, that he would like another go at this blog thing sometime this year. Looking forward to seeing your post for Share Your Snaps next Monday, 17 May 2021. Denyse

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    • Yes! Why didn’t I think of that first?!?! Then I could have written the book! 🙂 Looking forward to reading your hubby’s next post. Thank you for hosting and see you next week!

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  21. Lol I can relate to the driving around trying to find a restaurant that suits everyone with everyone getting hangry along the way – have done that myself far too many times! You’ve reminded me that I really must add ‘Don’t Overthink It’ to my to-read list. Good luck with doing the London Marathon – it sounds like you have a good plan for doing it that will hopefully keep your hamstring happy. #MMBC

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many commenters have said the same thing about getting angry looking for a restaurant with their family. Must be a common phenomenon. 🙂

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  22. As always, I enjoyed this post Laurie. I am getting back to reading late at night and late in the week. i think I may have to put this book on my Summer Reading list. So happy you have the opportunity for the London trip, that is great. i often include dinner decisions in my premarital counseling session. “Saying “i don’t care” where we eat, when you really might, is not helpfull. Thanks and blessings, Michele

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    • I was supposed to read the book as part of an online book club, but I didn’t. I read it later, on my own. Now, I wish I had not missed the discussion. I surely would have learned something! You give good advice to your premarried couples! 🙂

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  23. Thank you Laurie. As an overthinker myself, this post really spoke to me. I love the quote at the end: “It’s not about making the right choice. It’s about making a choice and making it right.” That alone can help ease the panic of making a big decision. I’ve made note of the book you mention. Sounds like something I should read.

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  24. Thank you for sharing enjoyed reading the post and the analogy…making decisions big or small for me I over analyze things which at times is good but I think if I have just not over thought some decisions the outcome would have been greater and better… I always seem to opt for the safest decisions not always the best one😀

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  25. Oh, fingers crossed you both get to run the London Marathon! You never know we could get to meet you!
    Have a lovely week ahead Laurie! 🙂

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  26. Well ! That was great post going through. But in India, so many varieties will be available. We will be always confused what to order. I always like your way of writing posts, as if you are talking to your closed ones.

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  27. Hi ! Looks like an interesting book ( Don’t overthink it) ..i guess you ended up doing the London Marathon ? I saw your name with a comment on another blogger’s post as I was curious of you… I am also a blogger on WordPress ( in English: FUNandLIFE.2 ) in case you are curious about me… I also write in French about walking and about the Camino ( i have done a long one- in France- 800 km in 2019) I am preparing a book to be published in 2022.

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