Earlier this year I made a decision that I thought was rational and logical. After carefully considering my options, I made the call to sell my current car and buy a bigger one.
But after a few months, that same decision appeared to be somewhat reckless and uncharacteristic. How did a decision that seemed rational and logical before become one that don’t make much sense later?
My thought process
To understand this decision better, let’s start from the beginning. There were a few reasons why I wanted to switch to a bigger car. First, my current car is more than 6 years old and losing value much quicker than I thought. I’ve also finished servicing it’s loan so that would make it easier to sell.
Then I also wanted to plan ahead by getting a bigger car to drive my family around. Now that I have a kid, it made sense to get a car that’s bigger to fit more people and all the baby stuff.
Lastly, I could afford the monthly instalment. Blessed with a decent job, I figured it’s okay to spend more for it. After all, why work so hard if you are not going to spend some of it to reward yourself and your family?
It seems to me that I’ve checked all the boxes. The car needs to be replaced before it starts breaking down and lose even more value. There’s a need for a bigger car and I’m financially ready for it.
Satisfied with my in-depth analysis and reasoning, I put my car up for sale and quite a few buyers approached me. But over the next few months, every single one of those deals fell through. On hindsight, this was a lucky break as it prompted me to reconsider my decision.
Change of perspective
It was during this time that I started thinking about the type of person I am. The person who made the decision to buy a bigger car was a family man who also thinks he deserves a better car. But that person isn’t really the person I could relate with.
I thought of myself, or at least wish to be, someone who is frugal and strive for financial independence. I also want to be not just a good parent but a smart one who can plan ahead for the financial security of my family.
And when I analyze the decision from the perspective of a frugal and financially savvy parent, it made very little sense for me to buy a bigger car now.
The need for a bigger car is something that we could delay for a while. Since my son is only a few months old, we can make it work with what we have right now for at least a year or two.
When it comes to the declining value of the car, that’s something beyond my control. Buying a new car will also mean more monthly commitments which could be put in better use as savings. The more I save, the closer I am to being debt free.
Who you are affects how you make decisions
It was this experience that made me realise who you are or want to be, affects the way you make decisions. Even though in both situations I had good reasons to believe I was making the right call, ultimately what prevailed was my self-image.
All of us have our own decision-making process. Some are more meticulous and would analyse everything. Some would follow their gut while some prefer to avoid them if possible.
If you are someone who works with logic and reason, then you need to realise that we tend to justify our decisions after the fact. It’s so easy to come up with a million reasons why you should do something.
The real driver of these decisions are the values and character you are trying to maintain. This self-image governs how and why we make certain decision. Understanding who you are or want to be will reveal the true impetus of your decisions.
You can decide who you are too
What makes this even more interesting is that your self-image is also a result of the decisions you made. Consciously or not, you made the decision to be who you are now.
This means we have a feedback loop where who you are affects the decision you make which then in turn will reinforces your self-image.
Such loop could lead us down a spiral of bad decisions that’s difficult to recover from. Every mistake just reinforces the idea that you are someone who make these mistakes.
We could also take advantage of this by committing to be a better person and start making decisions that reinforces it. The more decisions you make that’s aligned with your desired self-image, the more real it becomes, kickstarting a positive feedback loop.
The next time you need to make a decision, ask yourself, what’s your ideal self-image and frame the situation from that perspective. Remember that every decision you make will reinforce who you are and it pays to aim to be a better person.