IT'S ALL ABOUT TRADEOFFS
IDENTIFY THESE CLEARLY AND THEN DECIDE
THERE ARE ALWAYS TRADEOFFS
Whenever I hear someone talking about how awful it is that people (or the government) don't do as they "should", I immediately think of all the tradeoffs involved, where reality dictates that we can't have it all.
WE THEN NEED TO DECIDE BETWEEN THEM, AFTER IDENTIFYING THEM CLEARLY
Basically, we must identify what the trade-offs are and then decide which benefits and costs to select.
In Benjamin Franklin's simple "T" decision process and form, he puts the positives on one side of the dividing line and the negatives on the other, then decides how important each is and he gives them a "weighting" number. A weighting number is simply assigning an importance of 10 to one factor and 1 to another, because one is ten times as important (or impactful) as the other. Certainly, you can't weight each of them the same and then add them up - that would be like adding apples and oranges into one number that is meaningless.
Then he adds the number assigned to each factor on each side to come up with a total score for each and picks the one with the higher total.
Or, sometimes, the decision doesn't "feel" right, so he would then go back and see what he left out or misvalued, if anything, and he would also see if he didn't group similar factors together into one overall factor. (If he didn't group them properly and he listed a great quantity of subfactors then there would be alot more numbers to add.
CLARITY AND DEFINITENESS HAVE HUGE POWER
Clarity and definitess of decision take away the brain-sapping (psychological energy sapping) and mistake prone costs of re-deciding over and over in the moment. Besides that, it seems silly to have to re-decide something, if there are no new factors.
Of course, you'd redo the decision process if you noticed that the decision created a negative result. (Duh!) It is interesting, though, to observe human beings who often do not revise their decisions despite the clear feedback of "it doesn't work" - so they keep doing what doesn't work, and somehow expect that things will get better or be ok! That would never be the case if a person is Living The Life Of A Life Champion - he/she seeks frequent feedback and responds asap to make the necessary adjustment.
When I have clearly decided and programmed the decision into my mind I KNOW what to do - and I do it.
When I have believed that I have made a clear, well-reasoned decision and I don't act according to what I supposedly decided, I obviously left out something and/or misvalued some factor.
Examples would be such as:
I don't eat properly despite having "decided" to do it.
I procrastinate on something I should do. (Either decide when and/or whether to do it or not but don't allow the confusion of trying to decide whether the value is sufficient to do it now.)
I watch TV for some reason, but feel numbed out and not alive.
I seek distractions from what I'm doing.
THERE MUST BE A "DE" AND A "CISION" - AND A COMPLETED PROCESS
If you read more about decisions in The Law Of Decision, a "de" "cision" is a cutting off with mental "scissors" any other alternative. If I do the alternative, then there is something wrong with my decision process. (Duh!)
When one has made a decision, one is creating a rule. A rule is a powerful guiding mechanism to help get better results. If one creates a rule, but fails to use proper decisionmaking, then one, of course, will not get in total nearly as good a set of results - and often will end up harming oneself. Arbitrarily or incompletely making a decision is not the same as truly making a decision. It is more like stopping ahead of time, before completion, and going into a "default" mode - defaulting to stupidity or sloth, to what is easier or less rigorous.
If you skip making decisions when necessary, you accumulate lots of flotsam and jetson that simply weighs you down with resistances, mistakes, and burdens.
IT'S ALL BASED ON ACTUAL "VALUE"
In planning, it is imperative that a person identifies what his values are - meaning what he values and how much he values the item. If one values "fun" and also values hard work, one has a conflict of values - essentially a trade-off that one must make in order to decide which to do.
Without specified values and without specifying the value of each value, one cannot and will not make many good decisions.
However, if we simply ask a person what he values and then we do the traditional prioritization choosing process, we may still end up with some garbage.
The problem is that the person's belief about how valuable something is to him may be off, not because of his internal valuing process, but because the value has no value in producing an actual good result.
One's life is rampant with misplaced values.
The most prominent is that of valuing money and material things very highly and believing that they will cause one to be happy. And the value of the value is exaggerated as being more important than, say, health - where people are so committed that they will do something "at all costs". The height of stupidity. But something we are all too prone to as humans, as we take the lazy way out and seek shortcuts, where we don't do our "homework".
Anyway, the bottom line is that you must do your best to identify what good values are. And, before you accumulate total wisdom, you will misvalue things - so you'll have to re-value them and make new decisions on the values.
THE MALIGNMENT OF "VIRTUES"
We in America appear to have lost sight of some things that actually work powerfully: virtues. And I don't mean this in some moralistic sense of right/wrong, good/bad judgment of a person, but in terms of what gets actual results. I am talking actual Ethics here - what works and what doesn't work to get the results we want. Ultimately, the test of all values and actions is "Does it get me more total happiness in life?" (Of course, we have to learn more about what happiness is, in terms of lasting value versus short term values - such as is discussed in What Is Life About? How To Maximize Happiness In Life.)