8 Stoic principles that can help sharpen your decision-making skills as you get older

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We all strive to make sound decisions as we age, don’t we?

But it often seems like a Herculean task. You’ve probably found yourself in a quandary more times than you care to admit. I know I have.

The problem? We’re human and we’re flawed. And that’s okay.

But what if there was a way to improve our decision-making skills? No, I’m not talking about a magic potion. I’m referring to timeless Stoic principles.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard of Stoicism but never really knew how it could be applied practically, especially to decision-making.

What if I told you that these ancient principles can, indeed, help sharpen your decision-making skills as you get older?

Sounds intriguing, right? Well, buckle up!

This article will delve into Stoic principles that have the potential to transform the way you make decisions.

Remember, this isn’t an overnight miracle cure. It’s a journey. Let’s embark on it together! 

1) Embrace the imperfections

Have you ever made a decision and immediately regretted it? I certainly have. 

A few years back, I found myself at a crossroads, caught between staying in a comfortable job or taking a leap of faith into an uncertain new venture. I chose the latter. And boy, did I stumble.

It was a disaster…at first.

But here’s what I learned: personal growth often comes from our biggest mistakes. Stoic philosophy teaches us to accept our imperfections, learn from our missteps, and move forward. 

2) The power of detachment

Ever found yourself overwhelmed by emotion when making a decision? 

I remember one time when I had to let go of an employee who had been with me for years. The decision was purely business-oriented, but my emotions were running high.

I hesitated. I stalled. And it cost me.

Stoic philosophy nudges us towards detachment – not in the sense of being cold or unfeeling, but rather in separating ourselves from the emotional whirlwind that can often cloud our judgment.

It’s about making decisions based on reason, not emotion.

Applying this principle has made my decisions more clear-headed and less influenced by momentary feelings.

3) Focus on what you can control

Stoic philosophy encourages us to focus on what we can control and accept what we cannot. The Stoics believed that most things in life are out of our control – from the weather to other people’s actions.

When making decisions, focusing on the elements that you have direct control over – like your actions, your responses, your attitude – can simplify the process and reduce anxiety. 

This principle has been a game-changer for many, and it could be for you too.

4) Live in the present

The greatest gift we have is the present. Yet, it’s so easy to get caught up in the past or worry about the future. I’ve seen people, dear friends of mine, make decisions based on a past they can’t change or a future they can’t predict.

Stoicism teaches us to live in the now. This principle doesn’t mean we should disregard our past experiences or future aspirations, but rather that our decisions should be rooted in our current reality.

When we make decisions grounded in the present, we allow ourselves to appreciate what we have and make choices that can truly enrich our lives. It’s not always an easy path, but it’s one worth taking.

5) Practice indifference to indifference

I remember a time when I was offered a major promotion at work. It was a position I had eyed for years. But to my surprise, when it finally came, I felt… indifferent.

Instead of allowing this indifference to confuse me or lead me to hastily decline the offer, I applied a principle from Stoic philosophy: practice indifference to indifference.

What does that mean, you ask? It’s about recognizing that not all decisions need to be emotionally charged or life-changing. Sometimes, the choices we face may not stir up any strong feelings, and that’s okay.

Once I accepted this, I took the promotion. And guess what? It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. 

The point is, don’t let indifference deter you. Sometimes, it could lead you to opportunities you never even imagined.

6) Practice objectivity

When making decisions, it’s easy to allow our personal biases to cloud our judgment. Stoicism teaches us to practice objectivity, seeing things for what they are, not what we want them to be.

I have found this principle particularly useful when faced with challenging decisions. 

By taking a step back and viewing the situation from a neutral standpoint, I have been able to make more balanced and impartial choices.

7) Acceptance of change

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant in life is change”. This is a core tenet of Stoic philosophy and one that can significantly impact our decision-making process.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably resisted change at some point in your life. I remember being offered a great opportunity to work abroad. But the thought of leaving my comfort zone and starting anew in a foreign land was daunting.

But Stoicism teaches us to not only accept change but embrace it. 

And so, I did. 

I took the job and moved abroad. It was challenging, but it was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

8) Contemplate on mortality

This might seem a bit morbid, but contemplating mortality is an important aspect of Stoic philosophy. The Stoics believed that by remembering that life is fleeting, we can make more meaningful and significant decisions.

So how does this apply in everyday life? Let’s take retirement planning as an example. When we’re young, retirement seems like a distant reality. 

But as we age, it becomes more imminent. Contemplating on our mortality can motivate us to make sound decisions today to ensure a secure and comfortable future.

Conclusion

These Stoic principles may be thousands of years old, but their relevance has stood the test of time. They can offer profound insights into our decision-making process, especially as we get older.

So the next time you’re faced with a tough decision, why not give these principles a try? You may just find that they help sharpen your decision-making skills and lead to more satisfying and fulfilling choices.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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