Why Do Good People…Make Bad Choices?

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015 by doctor

Why Do Smart People Make Poor Decisions?


People often ask me, “Doctor, how can I make better decisions and choices in life”?

I feel like my life is in a descending spiral which I cannot stop”.  Often one thinks that because they seem to be highly educated, with lots of degrees or diplomas on the wall, or financially stable with lots of material wealth, that is synonymous with “good decision” making skills.   One often thinks that decisions in life go hand and hand with the above. People who are close to me hear me regularly repeat my mantra of life, “got to have a plan”.  Not just one plan, but plan A, plan B, and plan C.  Plan A, is always the plan that will give you the results which you think you really want and desire. Plan B, is a good and sometimes more realistic plan, that takes a different route or results than Plan A does.  Plan C is “Damage Control and Survival Mode”, to prevent you from going backwards or  losing ground. Plan C is there until you can reassess your choices and develop a revised Plan A or B.

Insanity: “repeating the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result”.

As a good friend told me you never learn anything by listening to yourself.  ”Give every man thy ear but few thy voice ” (Polinous, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3)  Also, I was told that if “Plan A doesn’t work, you NEVER repeat plan A” ( unless of course the situations change, or you revise Plan A, and then it is really Plan B). If nothing else, these are the two most important parts of this Blog: listen to everyone and everything and stop repeating the same wrong ways. You can stop reading or continue if you want more.


So why do good smart people make bad choices and decisions? This may not be the same for everyone and we need to take several factors out of the equation from the start, such as substance abuse and mental illness. In my opinion, it is due to a combination of several and often complex factors. My thoughts are that some of these factors include: 1-Family values and experiences.  Such factors include events during your childhood and life, religious and moral beliefs, and family and parental structure and happiness. 2- Money- Many people will base their decision making on a financial goal, thinking that the correct choice is the one that will make them financially secure, even though they may be poorer emotionally (Scrooge phenomenon).  3-Ego-  I feel that this can be the most powerful and or dangerous force. The fact that you always know what is right and that everyone else is wrong.

So let us now step back and look over our decisions and decision making process in life. Were any of your bad decisions made based on one of the factors outlined above? I’m not saying that this is good or bad.  What I’m implying is that, maybe one consistently  makes the same bad or incorrect life choices because of one of the above influencing forces. When we make a good or correct decision, we often forget about it and move on never giving it a second thought. When we make a bad or poor choice in life, it often haunts us forever, influencing future of additional incorrect choices. So let’s look at this more closely. But not at the bad, rather at the good choices in life. LG (life is good)

Think about a good decision you made in life: school, education, profession, marriage, children, etc. I am not implying that all of these were good choices in your case, rather try to find one that stands out. Now look and search for the people, place, situation or things that assisted you and made that choice correct in your life. Hopefully, you have found at least one. You need to go back to that place in your mind. You need to find that situation that allowed you to make that correct, good and emotionally rewarding decision. Now base future decisions in a similar fashion. Go back to people you trust to help you. We all need help! (no man is an island).  You have to break the chain of bad choices and events by going back to a good place in your life and mind and ask yourself, who helped me get here, what were the situations surrounding my success and how can I change things NOW in my life to make similar good choices. You already have everything you need to move ahead listed above in Part I and Part II. If you want more, read on:


Let’s move to the opposite side.  Let’s look at our bad decisions and life choices, and why we repeat then. We all make bad decisions. Its part of the learning process of life, right? But why do we repeat them?  Did you have a plan A and B?  Or did your ego say, I know it’s going to work, I know I’m right, everybody and everything is wrong.  So, why do we continue to make bad choices? You should know by now!  It is not simple but a combination of all of the above factors, and more!

First: You didn’t have a well thought out Plan A, you let your emotions or one of the above factors influence you, incorrectly!  Ego, Money, etc

Second: Did you have a Plan B to revert to. And sometimes you need to cut your losses and move fast like in the stock market. When a stock drops 10%, dump it, move on, you can always buy it back. In life, plan B should be set as a “default”. It should automatically kick in. Yes, you can cry, kick yourself, or whatever you want, but let Plan B takes it course. And never repeat Plan A.

Third: And this is bad when you keep on repeating Plan A.  It is because there is a feeling of comfort in Failure!  What is he saying?  I want to fail; it is comfortable for me to fail?  This makes no sense, unfortunately it makes a lot of “bad sense”. If you know that Plan A is the wrong decision and you are going to fail, and you do, then you have been successful in your endeavor! Cause you planned and completed your own failure! You may not agree with this theory, however, if you do, one of the only ways to get off of this carousel is to step off while it is moving! Fall flat on your face! And pick yourself up! And thank God you are still alive to move on.


Come on let’s end this already! You are telling me nothing! OK, here goes, bad decisions are contagious. But so are good choices. So you need to break the streak before you break your neck. Why does research state that you should never go food shopping on an empty stomach because you are hypoglycemic and hungry.  You therefore buy more, and the incorrect food products (make bad choices). The hormonal response of hunger affects your decision making! That’s It!  Why didn’t you just say that 1218 words ago! Because you wouldn’t understand the meaning of “HUNGER” as it relates to daily decisions and choices in life. We are all hungry for: Love, Friendship, Security, Good Health, Well Being and the Meaning and Purpose of life.  We hunger for the hope that we are here to make a difference, small or larger! Yes and that is it, simply stated, so don’t go shopping hungry, and don’t make decisions in life hungry.  Fill your life with the people and things that matter, and you will never be hungry. If you are not hungry, your decision process will be clear, focused and direct. “I am the bread of life, those that believe in me will never be hungry” (John 6:35).