Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Choices and decisions

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Choices and decisions

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Okinawa

“We are our choices” – Jean Paul Sartre

A choice is not the same as a decision. But, we cannot choose not to choose. Daily, people make roughly 35,000 choices. Chicken or beef? Drive the Mercedes or the Lamborghini? Wear high heels or tennis shoes? The Happy Meal or a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. All these decisions lead to decision fatigue. If your tired don’t make BIG decisions. Should I join the Marine Corps or stay with Walmart for another week?

Before making BIG decisions, get plenty of rest and have a clear mind. Being mentally exhausted is not a good time to make decisions. If you are burned out emotionally and mentally take a few minutes or days to clear the daze in your head. Being rested will prevent impulsive decisions such as should we run away and get married, or should I tell my parents first? Ask yourself, is this the best time to make the decision to get married? Maybe it’s time to decide not to decide. In each moment in your life, you are free to decide.

Choices are needed to clarify priorities; decisions are needed to make things happen. Don’t let your emotions make your decisions. A decision is a situation in which you have more than one option. The option you choose can have some effect of the outcome. People often avoid making decisions out of fear of making a mistake. Actually, the failure to make decisions is one of life’s biggest mistakes. When making decisions the best option is based on your priorities. If you or the group cannot make a decision you may be experiencing analysis paralysis. Maybe it’s time to consult the Magic 8-Ball. Decisions require making up one’s mind. With a choice we are debating whether it this a right or wrong one. Choices are opportunities to select an option. In decision-making, objectives must be established; objectives are in order of importance; alternative actions developed. We make choices based on our values, and beliefs.

To make deliberate thoughtful decisions Identify the decision, gather information, identify alternatives, weigh the evidence, choose among alternatives, take action, and  review your decision, according to the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Now that we have entered the New Year, it’s time to make decisions and choices for the rest of the year.

Every day is a fresh start. Stay positive. Enter the new year with gratitude. Every day is an opportunity for kindness. Choosing to improve is change. Take an inventory of yourself and search for the potential inside of you waiting to emerge into a new you. Whatever you decide, stay committed to it. Don’t make resolutions without an action plan. Stay busy and enjoy your life so you have no time for hate or violence. Concentrate on being happy and choosing to be happy. Being happy confuses people. You are responsible for your happiness.

“What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year,” Vern McLellan said. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Be with people who have positive energy. Remember: one-third of the population likes you, one-third dislikes you; and one-third of the population is indifferent to you. Pick the people who you like and ignore the rest. Your life is not a popularity contest. Just meander about life being content. Enjoy your own company. Impress yourself, not others.

When you wake up in the morning don’t say to yourself: “I decided not to decide!”  Make a small decision. A manageable decision. Like making the bed, taking out the garbage or washing the dishes. Don’t yell at the kids. Give warm fuzzies not cold prickles. We live in a static world filled with tension. But one smile or one act of kindness creates a ripple effect of positive energy. Positivity begins with you. Make a new year’s resolution to have a positive outlook on life and look at the bright side of life’s challenges. Surprise yourself, show up happy every day. Sure, people will talk behind you back, “Why is he/she happy all the time.” Keep ‘em guessing!


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at or at

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