How your choices have consequences for the present and future you

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Kevin Mangelschots

You are free to choose, but you are not free of the consequences of those choices.

Modern people frequently want the freedom to make their own decisions, but they don’t want to take the responsibility for the outcomes of those picks. Choosing is losing indeed. We can’t have it all.

Let me explain how your choices have consequences for the present and future you.

How your choices have consequences

Choices have consequences

People frequently think that they can make any choice they want, and that they can have anything in life that their heart desires.

But this is not the case. Choices and consequences are intertwined, and choosing is losing. You can’t have it all. Each decision we make, no matter how insignificant it might seem to us, has its consequences. Both positively and negatively.

The results of choices can be great, but they can also be terrible. One awful decision can literally ruin your entire life.

Imagine making the decision to drive home after a night of heavy drinking. Many people do so, but if you happen to hit an innocent person, and if that person is permanently injured or even worse, dies, then you will have to live with the knowledge that you killed an innocent person.

You will have to own that you brought great grief to that person’s family and friends, and that you will have to pay financially for their misfortune. The fact remains that one impulsively made bad decision can ruin your, and/or another person’s life physically, mentally, or both.

Choices do matter

The quote, “choose carefully because the choices you make today will determine what you have and what you will be tomorrow” written in black letters on a yellow background.

People seemingly have a tendency, or a bias, to assume that their past doesn’t matter. But I disagree. Your past choices made you who you are today. We will carry that with us until the day we cease to exist. We can’t simply erase what happened in the past just because we want to, or because it’s inconvenient to us in the present.

People try to rationalize that the choices they’ve made in the past don’t matter. That it’s not those decisions that made us who we are today.

But that’s exactly what it is. We are who we are as a consequence of our choices in the past.

Choosing is losing, take responsibility for your choices

Image of someone selecting, “I am a winner” instead of, “I am a loser” in a list of multiple choices answers.

Modern-day people typically want the privilege of making their own decisions, but don’t want to take the responsibility and ownership of their decisions by taking accountability of the results. They want it to be a one way street. Only the good without the bad.

For example, people want kids because they think it brings them happiness and because they want the joys of seeing them grow up and becoming a well functioning adult. Yet, they often don’t want the responsibility that comes along with parenthood.

Responsibilities such as educating their child, helping them study, bringing them to their local sports club, and so on. They want a kid, but don’t want to sacrifice their own selfish desires, nor their own time to make their offspring the number 1 priority.

People need to realize that not everything in life is good or fun. And no matter who, how rich, and how good your connections are, you can’t have it all.

All choices, no matter how good, will have their own specific downsides. But just because there are some negatives doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a poor decision.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

How do our choices impact others?

A person holding a question mark in front of their face.

Every choice we make in life will always affect someone. At times, they might impact ourselves for the most part. But most of the time, our decisions will have a significant impact on others as well.

For example, what degree we choose to pursue, and what job we decide to practice mainly influences our own lives, but also that of our parents, and possibly other family members as well. They have their own thoughts and worries about what career path we decide to walk, and what job we should go after.

This conveys that every decision we make is important, and doesn’t alter our own existence exclusively.

How to make good decisions in the future

Illustration of a road sign saying “good”, pointing to the right, and a road sign saying “bad”, pointing to the left.

Learn how to make good decisions

One of the simplest solutions, or at least part of the answer, is that one should learn how to make good decisions.

We do that by bundling our intuition from our unconscious mind together with the rational thoughts from our conscious mind. We should use all the information, both objective and subjective, that we have at our disposal.

A lot of people think with emotions instead of applying their common sense and rational thoughts. Sometimes, we need to exercise the ability to forego the immediate, smaller gratifications of our impulsive desires and emotions to gain a much bigger reward in the future. Or, in layman terms, we need to learn to delay immediate gratification.

Learning how to apply critical thinking skills and how to be introspective are paramount as well in order to make good selections.

Take responsibility for the consequences of your choices

Image of a finger pointing at a single human signifying his personal responsibility.

Take ownership of your choices and, even more importantly, of the outcomes of those decisions.

One thing we all need to learn as a well functioning adult in today’s society is to take responsibility. You are liable for your own life, your own happiness, and your own successes and failures in this existence.

If you place all those things into someone else’s hands, then you’re effectively handing over the power and command over your own life to somebody else. You won’t have any real control over your own life and how you decide to live it.

The advantage of giving your power away is that you always have an excuse when things don’t work out in your favor. “It was their fault, not mine.” “It wasn’t my decision.” “I’m always so unlucky with what happens in my environment.”

These are all poor attempts at rationalizing why things didn’t work out in your favor, instead of facing the cold harsh truth. The fact is that it’s your responsibility, and your duty alone, to make something out of your life.

Sure, others can enrich your life, and even help you to achieve your full potential. But you should never solely depend on another person to make your life prosperous, nor to become content.

Do choices have consequences?

Yes, each choice you make has consequences. With each decision having its positives, but also negatives.

Your choices have consequences for the present, but also the future you. That’s why you should think, and consider things carefully before making a decision.

Do all choices have consequences?

All choices have consequences. No matter how small and insignificant they might seem.

That’s why we shouldn’t underestimate the impact of our selections, and is why we should carefully consider our available options before picking.

The key is to make the choices that have desirable consequences, while simultaneously minimizing the unwanted outcomes.

What are potential negative consequences of choices?

A boy giving two thumbs down in disapproval.

Choosing is losing

The consequences of choices are that you will need to pick what you decide to gain, but unfortunately also what you will lose. Even winning requires sacrifice, and making a decision is no different.

Because you can’t have it all in life, no matter how many choices you have at your disposal. As a matter of fact, having too many choices isn’t always beneficial, and can even lead to choice paralysis.

For example, when you select to eat healthy, drink water instead of unhealthy beverages such as soda and alcohol, and decide to work out instead of sitting on the couch all day, you’ll be in great shape.

You’ll be fit, full of energy, ripped, and age much better overall. Those are some of the things you gain due to living a healthy lifestyle.

However, while that sounds great on paper, you’ll have to sacrifice some things as well for your personal wellbeing. You’ll have to lose out on some other attractive options if you want to succeed.

It means you’ll have to forego delicious, yet unhealthy foods and ingredients such as fast food, saturated fats, and sugar. It also imparts that you have to exercise instead of watching TV all day. You might even have to cancel your typical plans of going out with your friends in the weekend just to resist the temptation to drink alcohol.

A bottle of Jack Daniel's.

Thus, every decision we make is a forfeiture in itself. It’s up to us to measure if what we gain is worth the loss.

Choice overload

Having too many options available can lead to the psychological phenomenon known as the “consequence of choice” or, “choice overload.”

It entails that the more options you have to pick from, the harder it will be for you to select which choice to take. That’s because you have so many options available that there’s simply no way to know what alternative is the best one.

When you finally decide to pick a choice, you’re no longer sure you’ve made the right call because you have so many options on hand.

What are the positive consequences of choices?

Young woman giving a double thumbs up.

Despite the potential downsides of having too many choices, I still think it’s overall much more beneficial to have a multitude of options available, as it’s very hard to have too many options accessible to you.

These are the potential positive consequences of choices:

  • Teaches you to think about what you want from life

    Making decisions, and having multiple options available means you’ll have to think about what choice is the most beneficial to you for what you want to achieve in life. Knowing what you want to accomplish means you’ll have to make value judgments in order to figure out what’s most important to you.

    It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible to attain something when we don’t even know what we’re aiming at. That’s why you need to think about it carefully, and formulate a detailed plan of what exactly it is that you want to reach along the line.

  • Teaches you to make a decision

    Some folks are terrified of the thought of having to make a decision on their own. Possibly because they’re afraid of making the wrong choice, or because they’re paralyzed by fear because of the wide plethora of options.

    But everyone will have to reach their own conclusions and make their own selections sooner or later. That’s why it’s best to learn it when you’re still young and highly adaptable. This way, you’ll get the maximal benefits for the rest of your life.

  • Making bad decisions help you to learn more

    Every choice you make, whether it’s a good one, or a bad one, will teach you something valuable if you keep an open mind and a humble attitude.

    Even more so, bad choices usually mean we’ll learn even more, since we’re more likely to look at what we did wrong to prevent painful experiences in the future. People are motivated to prevent painful experiences, since we feel negative emotions more strongly than we do positive ones.

    That’s why we’re more inclined and probable to learn from failure and mistakes than from our successes.

  • Becoming more confident

    Seeing that you can take care of yourself, and that you have the necessary courage to make your own selections in life, all the while dealing with the consequences that come along, will make you more confident in your own abilities.

    You need to be confident to make good, well-thought-out decisions. You can’t start picking out of a fear and scarcity based mindset. Selecting out of fear is a recipe for disaster, since you’re not deciding based on what’s best for you, but rather as an attempt to avoid fear and pain.

  • Living a balanced life

    Having a multitude of options means we can pick and choose to our liking. It’s hard to live a balanced life when we have little alternatives available to us.

    But having an ample amount allows us to pick the ones that are best suited to our personal goals. This means that we can live a balanced life due to selecting the solutions that fit our personality and lifestyle the most.

  • Living a happier life

    Having a large variety of options on hand doesn’t immediately make us happier. But having too few automatically makes us less content, since we’re not free to pick those that we want and desire the most.

    Thus, we should aim to put ourselves in a position of power. And that’s what power is, having a multitude of choices at your disposal.

  • Peace of mind

    Knowing that you have a large plethora of options to pick from automatically makes you feel safer, and more secure, than you would be having too few choices accessible to you.

    It won’t automatically make you happy, but they can help to create as sense of safety, since you know that you have more than enough alternatives for when the situation calls for it.

  • Free to focus on the things that are most important to you

    Having choices at your disposal means you’re free to focus on the things that are most valuable to you. Every individual is different, and thus, so are the things we want, desire, and decide to pursue in the end.

    Still, people are more alike than they are different. This automatically means that there are some common things that we will all want such as security, love, friendship, and so on.

  • Free to change your life

    The quote, “only you can change your life. No one can do it for you” written in black letters.

    Having a lot of options available to you means it’s easier for you to change your life in whatever direction you want it to. Since everyone has their own unique personality, it’s only logical that we decide to look for contrasting things. Nevertheless, people are still more alike than they are different.

    And going after diverse things, all the while having a distinguishable personality, means that we can’t all take the same path and expect the same results. Different strokes for different folks. It’s that simple.

  • Sense of achievement

    Making our own decisions and carrying the load and responsibility that comes along with those choices aid to create a sense of achievement.

    It’s not that self-evident to make your own choices, since that also involves having to take ownership for all the failures and mistakes we make. The human ego makes it hard to admit we’re not perfect indeed.

    That’s why having other people making the decisions for us can be such an attractive alternative for some. It means we have someone else to blame instead of ourselves when things don’t pan out the way we want them to.

  • Better relationships

    It’s easier to pick and choose who we deem appropriate and beneficial to our overall life when we have a lot of people wanting to befriend us.

    This can lead to better, more intense relationships with the individuals we view as worthy of our attention and love. It’s important that we keep our social circle filled with people who want the best for us, and who are an enrichment to our life.

  • Respected by others

    Image of two people giving each other a hand and the words “respect, give it to get it” written besides it.

    Having options means having power, and a sense of control over your own existence. People respect power, and thus, having a lot of choices at your disposal will make other folks respect you.

    Of course, you should put yourself in a position of power first and foremost for yourself, and to satisfy your own demands and desires. But it’s always a plus when others respect you as a person, and what you’ve accomplished.

What is the meaning of choice and consequences?

A choice means picking, or making a decision when having at least two, but possibly more potential options available.
 
A consequence can be defined as the outcome of an act or state.
 

In more human language, every choice we make has both positive and negative consequences for the present, and future you. Choosing is losing, and we can’t have it all. Yet, making decisions also has its merits, and is a requisite to thrive in life.

Final note

Image of the words “decision-making” written with a blue marker.

Life is about choices and consequences. That’s unavoidable.

All choices have consequences. And choosing is losing. But the great thing is that you get to pick what you gain, and consequently, what you lose out on.

Even the small things, no, especially the little decisions that we regard as trivial such as our daily habits and routines, are incredibly important since we perform them each day.

Think of our daily routines such as brushing our teeth, watching TV, exercising, …

Imagine how much healthier and competent you would be if you’d spend some time on consciously making the right decisions, such as exercising multiple times a week, or spending just 30 minutes daily on learning something valuable. In merely one year, you would be unrecognizable from the current you, and in a good way.

Call to action

Image of someone's hand holding a white text sign saying, 'it starts with you'.

There are a lot of advantages of having options. Having the benefit to pick the one you want most being the main one.

Learn to make your own decisions. But more importantly, learn to take responsibility for the consequences of choices you’ve made in the past and present.

You will make mistakes, because errors and failure are inevitable if you live life and explore your own path, even for the smartest and most capable of people.

But that’s okay, since you will learn and grow the most from your mistakes if, and only if, you decide to take ownership of your choices.

Unironically, the choice is yours, but so are the consequences.