When faced with an important life decision, 100 percent of men polled would rather make a great choice than a terrible one. Yet bad decisions happen to good guys every day. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can actually ace every single seminal moment in your life.
Sounds impossible, right? You’re probably thinking to yourself, There’s no way in hell someone can advise me how to make all good decisions. They don’t know anything about me. I don’t even know all the decisions I’m going to have to make. In order, ‘yes’ someone can advise you, ‘no,’ they don’t have to know anything about you, and ‘yes,’ we don’t know all the choice you’ll face, but we do know most of the important decisions you’ll have to make.
How is this possible? It’s simple. You may be your own man, but billions of men have traveled the road of manhood before you. They’ve chosen a college to attend, a place to live, a child’s name. They’ve had to nail a job interview or a marriage proposal. They haven’t lived your exact life, but they’re just a few steps ahead of you on the same sidewalk. And that’s great news, because it means you’re not alone.
Of course, you can’t just tap some random guy on the shoulder and ask whether you should bail on winter and move to Southern California or South Florida. That’s where I come in. I’m the guy men tap on the shoulder. Not on the street, obviously, and not in the literal sense. That would be weird for both of us.
Who am I? I’m a columnist. I’ve written for nearly every men’s magazine on the planet, including monthly advice columns in GQ and Muscle & Fitness. And now I’ve taken the topics I found the most popular among readers and turned them into my new book: The Three Dollar Scholar – Awesome Advice for Acing Life’s Major Decisions and Mindless Debates. (It costs $2.99, hence the title.)
While the book’s chapters offer specific advice on all sorts of decisions, here are three fail-safe tips to making solid choices when your future is on the line. Use them well.
1. Think it through
The advice to list pros and cons about any big choice isn’t bad; it’s just incomplete. To make it truly worthwhile, make one list of pros and cons about your decision for right now, then one projecting two years into the future, five years into the future and ten years into the future or beyond. You can’t foresee everything that might happen, but if you think deeply about it, you’ll surprise yourself with how many things pop into your head that you wouldn’t think of with a traditional list.
For instance, say you’re about to have your first son and you’re thinking of naming him Mason because it’s a popular name. Now, I’m not telling you what to name your child, but with the average life expectancy in the United States pushing 80 years, picking the wrong name for your kid could turn out to be an eight-decade mistake.
In 80 years you’ll likely be dead: the house you lived in, the cars you drove, the clothes you wore will probably all be recycled, rebuilt or destroyed. But your son, who is now living in an old-age facility in 2092, has to go by the name Mason S., because Mason A., Mason G., Mason L. and Mason P. live on the same floor, and they were all born in 2012 and also had parents who simply picked the trendiest name available. Unless you have always loved Mason, or you are named Mason (or work as a mason) and your son is going to be a Mason Junior or a mason, the name is just too popular. So think it through. Especially if your last name is Dixon.