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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Regularly Re-Articulate and Reevaluate Your Goals, Purposes, and Needs

All of us live goal-directed lives. We form goals and purposes, and we seek to satisfy them. We form values and seek to acquire what they imply. We have needs and seek to fulfill them. If we were to automatically achieve our goals and purposes and fulfill our needs, we would have no problems or challenging decisions to make. A keen awareness of our goals, purposes, and needs is what often makes us aware of the importance of making a decision. Uncritical thinkers often "walk right by" an opportunity for a decision, not even recognizing that opportunity. For example, if you are in a poor relationship with a person and do not make the decision either to leave the relationship or to take active steps to improve it, the problem it represents is "un-dealt-with." Your implicit decision is to maintain things as they are.

Skilled critical thinkers regularly revisit their conceptions of what is worth pursuing. Very often, we make poor decisions simply because we are pursuing what we ought not to pursue. For example, if you define your happiness in terms of controlling the lives and decisions of the key persons in your life, you are bound to make poor decisions both for yourself and for those whom you seek to control.

Humans often seek excess—excess of wealth (greed), excess of power (domination), excess of food (an unhealthy body). And humans often make unreasonable demands on others—assuming that everyone believes what they believe, values what they value, and should act as they act. Humans often set up inconsistent standards—expecting others to be satisfied with what they themselves would not be satisfied with, or to be judged by criteria that they would resent were that same criteria applied to themselves.

Test the Idea
Creating Problems through Poor Decision-Making

Consider the following strategies for dealing with, or making, decisions. Each represents poor decision-making. Can you see why? Do you see one or more of these examples as a good way to deal with decisions?

  1. Staying in an abusive relationship for the sake of the children.

  2. Taking drugs to gain an immediate escape from the pain of facing unpleasant realities in your life.

  3. Overeating to deal with depression.

  4. Establishing an escalating "get tough" policy on crime, leading to larger and larger prison cultures that create more and more hardened criminals.

  5. Smoking to win approval in a group.

  6. Establishing an escalating "get tough" policy on terrorists, leading to more and more resentment and hatred in the groups resorting to "terrorism," leading to more violent responses.

  7. Getting angry and acting out by hitting things or people, throwing things, and shouting.

  8. Feeling self-pity when frustrated.

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