Decision or Choice: Is the Difference Stealing Your Focus and Your Time?

Possibilities and Direction

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You walk into an ice cream store. So many flavors sit in the case before you. You consider or you know right away. You place your order.

You have a meeting with your boss only to find out that the job you love is likely to be gone in six months. You have an opportunity to take a higher position in another state or you can stay in the city you love with a fair certainty that your job is going away.

One is a choice. The other is a decision.

One is about possibilities. The other is about direction.

Decision or Choice

Whether we’re thinking about sending a child to private school, where to go on holiday, or buying office supplies, every day we opt for one thing over another. Sometimes we’re choosing. Sometimes we’re deciding. Doing one when the other is called for can get in our way.

Do you know the difference between a choice and a decision? Consider what the words mean and how that might apply to your business and your life.

The Definitions [via ]

  • A choice is a selection from a number or variety of options.
  • A decision is reaching a conclusion or passing judgment on an issue.

The Etymology — History of the Words [via Merriam-Webster Online,]

  • Choose — Etymology: Middle English chosen, from Old English cÄ“osan; akin to Old High German kiosan to choose, Latin gustare to taste
  • Decide — Middle English, from Latin decidere, literally, to cut off, from de- + caedere to cut

Synonyms [via]

  • Choose — (definition select) — accept, adopt, appoint, call for, cast, co-opt, commit oneself, crave, cull, decide on, designate, desire, determine, discriminate between, draw lots, elect, embrace, espouse, excerpt, extract, fancy, favor, finger, fix on, glean, judge, love, make choice, make decision, name, opt for, predestine, prefer, see fit, separate, set aside, settle upon, sift out, single out, slot, sort, tab, tag, take, take up, tap, want, weigh, will, winnow, wish, wish for
  • Decide — (definition determine) adjudge, adjudicate, agree, award, call shots*, choose, cinch, clinch, commit oneself, conclude, conjecture, decree, determine, elect, end, establish, figure, fix upon, form opinion, gather, guess, judge, mediate, opt, pick, poll, purpose, reach decision, resolve, rule, select, set, surmise, tap, vote, will

When we choose, it’s like picking an item from a menu. If we come back the next time, we can make another choice. But a decision, cuts off — kills — other options. By its very definiton a decision is a turning point.

Is the Difference Stealing Your Focus and Your Time?

Decisions and choices build our character, form our life path. They’re the sum and substance of what makes our resume and our business success. Even so, what is a decision or a choice for you, me, or anyone is, in itself, a decision or a choice.

How we handle decisions and choices deeply affects our lives.

  • Do you angst over every choice as a life-changing decision? Take a look at what you’re investing — time, energy, stress — and what you’re investing in.
  • Do you avoid clear decisions by treating them like choices? Take a look at the options you’re holding onto and how they’re holding you in place.

Those two mistakes steal time and focus and often generate stress.

The difference is fairly simple.
A decision marks a direction.
A choice marks an option until we return to choose again.

How will you use this information?

It’s your decision . . . or your choice.

Be irresistible.
–ME “Liz” Strauss

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  1. says

    This is the post that’s been most relevant to me in the six months I’ve been reading your blog. I never thought about the distinction before and it brought into focus a number of choices and decisions that I’ve made in the last year or so, including choices that were the results of decisions. Thank you. And Tammy, great article to add in.

  2. says

    Hi Tammy,
    This particular distinction has been coming up a great deal lately as I talk with folks abour focusing their businesses. It’s amazing the change that occurs (and how quickly) when people and teams learn to look at questions they face in this way.

    The time saved and the focus gained is immeasurable. It also takes the some of the anxiety away.

    Love the link you left. Thank you!

  3. says

    Woaw! Brilliant. Liz I’ve been reading you on and off for a long time. This article really hit home. I’m always talking about ‘making choices’ just choose and move on, don’t be paralyzed by choice. This post has given me a new perspective! Thank you.

  4. says

    Hi Michelle!
    This one seems to have resonated with many folks. I guess that means that we all need to take a longer look at how we select what we do. :)

    I’m delighted that I could help in this way. :)

  5. Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D. says

    I learned this distinction about 8 years ago. Corvida Raven and I were distinguishing it further from recent events. She tried it on a hypothetical. These kinds of things are best when applied IRL not as intellectual ideas. She then googled and find this post. It added a new level to my understanding. And a great post to share from now on. thx!!

  6. says

    Great blog on choice and decision – it helped me heaps when dealing with something important relationship/business based … A choice leaves options open for me and allows both to evolve naturally – a decision would definitely have cut off a lot – basically I just chose!! Just like that and feel good about it

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