If you want to make smarter, easier decisions, you need to decide what’s important to you. Everyone talks about balance and moderation. There are hundreds of books, blogs, and magazine articles discussing how to get the right work/life balance and how to balance your healthy eating habits with indulgence.

The problem with this type of balance is that it is confusing and misleading. It makes decision making hard and leads to mediocre results.

The truth is that many of the decisions you make will force you to choose between the things you are trying to balance. You will have to choose between working late or spending time with your family. You will have to choose between the the pizza or the salad when having lunch with your friends.

If you make these in the heat of the moment they can be influenced by your environment, your mood, or your friends. It will be harder to choose the salad when all your friends choose the pizza.

How do you make decision making easier? Write down what’s important to you. You have to work and you also want to spend time with your family, but one has to come before the other. If family is more important, then you chose family over overtime. If your health is more important, skip the indulgences.

Decide according to your values

A few days before leaving Japan my family and I all got sick. We had plans to have lunch with friends and do some shopping. We cancelled our plans. Our health was more important.

It was an easy decision to make. Health is ranked high in our family. We missed out on the last couple days of Japan. We spent a relaxing day mostly sleeping and everyone felt better before our flight home.

It was an easy decision because I cared more about our health than losing out on a few days of vacation. In the past, I would have spent a lot of time thinking about the best option, and would have likely chosen to visit friends at the cost of my health. The time spent worrying about making the right decision allows me to spend time solving more important problems and thinking about the future.

Choose what’s important to you and then make your decisions based accordingly. If you follow your values, you won’t regret your decisions.