Decisions are contextual


All our decisions in life are contextual.  I have sometimes wondered as to why we feel bad when we need to review a decision we have made sometime in the past in our personal or work life.  In my view, all our decisions are the best we could have made in the circumstances we made them.  As time passes, the context may change or new awareness may come in and we may feel like reviewing our own decision.  Although, we may be convinced that the decision we made may have been right at that time and needs a review now, we are generally reluctant to do so.  The reason for the same in most instances is either our ego or our inability to recognise the change of context.

Let us try to understand the same from two situational contexts in our personal and professional lives. I have experienced this both in my personal and professional lives.  In the personal context, I had bought a house and had decided to settle there post my retirement.  I was staying there for two years and suddenly my wife realised that the house was not Vastu (Indian architectural science) compliant.  I took a stand that we had decided to buy it only a few years back and never in the past considered Vastu as a criteria to buy a house.  I decided not to sell it and buy another house for this purpose.  However, two years down the line, I also read a bit of Vastu and understood the benefits of its compliance and decided to sell it and buy another one.  The context had changed since I was more aware and now I was anyway shifting from Bangalore to Mumbai to change my job so it facilitated my decision easily.

Now let us look at a work situation.  We decided to specify the type of mobile phones and the price limits, which could be allowed for different categories of employees.  As the market environment changed within two years, the models of mobile phones available in the market multiplied and the prices crashed.  While all of us were convinced that our policy on mobile phones was redundant, we were reluctant to review the same since we had taken that decision after a detailed analysis.  It took us some more months and discussions before we reviewed our own decision and agreed it make it more flexible.

These are just two simple examples.  The fact is that all of us take decisions every day.  Our decisions are always based on the best available information and judgement of ours.  As time passes, the context may change and we may become aware of new circumstances and hence we could review our own decisions.  However, we are reluctant more due to our own ego issues, our reluctance to move on and accept the change of circumstances or sometimes “who will bell the cat”attitude.  It’s like a chef not keen to change the temperature of the oven after summer is over and winter sets in.  Even our mothers did not hesitate to do so.

Let us realize that all decisions are contextual and may have an expiry date.

S Ramesh Shankar

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