When you reach a fork in the road, do you choose to turn left, or do you decide to turn left?

What is the difference between a choice and a decision?

I made Darjeeling tea this morning as opposed to making Assam. Did I choose Darjeeling or did I decide on Darjeeling?

On the surface, these two words appear to be interchangeable. I’m sure if we were writing a paper and noticed that we were overusing “choice” at some point we would change some of the words to “decision”. But are there subtle differences between the two words?

Do you put the same amount of thought into a choice as you would a decision?

I went out to eat with my daughter on Friday. She asked me if I wanted to split the onion soup and the corn ravioli. My options were:

  1. split the soup and ravioli
  2. get my own meal completely
  3. split the onion soup but not the ravioli
  4. split the ravioli but not the soup

My thought process:

  1. It’s over 80 degrees. I get that the onion soup is supposed to be amazing, but do I really want hot soup today?
  2. The burger is also supposed to be amazing, but it’s big and my daughter doesn’t eat meat, so do I want to carry around half a burger or throw away food? (sidenote- one of my biggest pet peeves is throwing away food)
  3. How easy is it to split a bowl of soup?
  4. Sweet corn ravioli is something I don’t often see on a menu and I know this place gets their stuff from the Farmer’s Market.

I know. All this from the simple question of do you want to do splitsys with dinner…

But really- this wasn’t a life altering trajectory. When faced with the four options, when it came down to it, I made a CHOICE to split the meal with my daughter. It might seem, on the surface, that I had four possibilities for an answer, and four possible reasons as to why I should or should not split the meal, but really, what I have for dinner on a random Friday is not really life altering. This was dinner with my daughter not Kool Aid with Jim Jones…

Therefore, I hereby decree that CHOICE is something we do when the situation is not life altering. A choice is simple- it ends after you choose. You go about your life as normal…

So if choice is non life altering, then decision would be…

Drumroll…

Decision is life altering…

I decide where to live.

I decide how to take care of my health.

Decisions would require greater thought and perhaps a much greater pro/con list than a choice. Decision might be harder to reverse- if you decide to buy a car, if you don’t want it anymore you could lose money, etc… I’m assuming no one really wants to lose money…

The obvious next question is: Am I being pedantic?

While your obvious answer choice is probably YES, maybe you should give a little more thought to it…

Is there a difference between the words?

I love language, and I love all the words that come with it. With the plethora of words at our disposal, shouldn’t we try to find the word that best fits what we are doing.

When you face the fork in the road, how do you know which tine to meander down? How much thought do you give to left or right, forward or reverse…does everything you do require great contemplation, or do certain issues matter more?

Do you choose? Do you decide?

Is there a difference between decision and choice? Or does it just not matter?

43 thoughts on “Choice v. Decision

  1. This makes me think about the controversy over being “pro-choice” or in the current battle over vaccination “my body my choice” … aren’t both of those literally life altering decisions?!?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think people spend enough time on. Retain things…or too much time on what seems to me small things…I know a person or two who don’t paint walls cause they can’t decide on a color….

      Like

  2. A decision is a final choice. Yes, it’s still a choice, but It’s a life or death matter. A serious, life altering choice. As a parent I’ve had to make a couple of decisions that affected my child’s life. Before my oldest son was 18 he had a tumor and I was faced with some serious choices. I had to do research, soul search, take medical advice, and thankfully, I made the correct decision which saved my son’s life. He was in high school at the time and not yet18. So it was up to me. Now he is 48. So, It was more than a simple choice, it was a huge decision because his life was at stake. I was faced with another major decision when I was given my cancer diagnosis. Choose not to have chemo and get to live another 5 or 6 months. Choose chemo and get more time. Obviously, more time was my choice/ decision.

    During quarantine I chose to be happy. It just made more sense. But I made a decision to get the covid vaccine because it would help me, my family, and help save lives in my community . That was a decision.
    So, For me a decision is after much research and thought. A simple choice doesn’t affect the outcome of my life or the lives of others. That’s the difference.

    Today I chose to wear chambray skinny jeans instead of straight leg indigo denim. Not a life altering choice. We make little choices every day but they don’t impact the universe. Science says, “For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction”. I think that pretty much defines the difference between a simple choice and a major decision.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I suppose the finality of a decision, right or wrong (we won’t know until we try) ends up carried with us regardless, in the form of experience, insight and knowledge. At the very least, we are then equipped knowing what not to do again. At best, we grew and evolve.

        If you dither and dilly dally you remain static. Forward propulsion is what you need.

        And I just made a decision. Thank you for this. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep, there’s a difference – and it’s yet another reason why living in a non-Orwellian society is so much more interesting than otherwise…
    You’re right, choice is just something we consider and then do – there are choices set before us 24/7.
    As for decisions: I posit that not all decisions are ‘life altering’ but all decisions require (or are a result of) more thought in arriving at that ‘decision’.
    I’m with you on ‘How does one split a bowl of soup?’ Ick.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Yep. The Scientific method is pretty much at the root of everything. I had had to teach it even as an elementary school teacher. But, developing a hypothesis and going through the scientific method is pretty much a great way to analyze anything.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well, you have to know I went to the expert Google. Choice is the ACTION of making a decision, the decision is the final answer, the result of making a choice. My reality: does make a difference the label as long as you have weighed all options and feel okay with your answer.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I had to lol when I read your thoughts on tea decisions and writing a paper/word choice. My sources have become generalized, but I still have the need to check and verify prior to making a statement!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Can’t help but remember Charlotte on Sex and the City shouting “I choose my choice!” In answer to your question, words have nuanced meanings so why not use them the best way you can.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I looked up the etymology of choice and decide. Choose was said to be different than choice , btw. Choose meant ‘to taste, try’. Choice originally meant, ‘excellent’. The root words of decide mean to cut off. So you cut off the other choices when you decide. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting discussion. I tend to think of choices as like things on a menu, but I suppose there are more serious things to chose from. Decisions are things you make after some deep consideration.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oooh good post! This reminds me of a conversation I had with my son about choices. He says we don’t really make choices. I will explain when more awake so that I don’t confuse you too badly! LOL!
    I like the difference you made between choices and decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome!
        So my son would do a better job of explaining but I will try to explain what we were debating. He still hasn’t convinced me but I can kind of see his point.

        He says we do not make choices. That we won’t choose something that we really don’t want, so that technically its not really a choice. A simple choice between 2 colored bowls. You automatically will choose the color you like the best. I said how when I go to the beach with my friend that I choose to come home BUT not because I WANT to leave the beach! LOL!
        He replied that I may not want to leave but I will because I am responsible. I know my family depends on me to come home and my job, so I obviously wouldn’t choose to not come home. Its not a choice. We do what we do because of who we are. We can’t make a choice to go against that.
        Do you see what he is saying or did I just confuse you more?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this topic, and appreciate how you’ve created the distinction between choice and decision.

    Here is how I see and feel it.
    A decision is something we actively think about, weighing our options, considering the data, then we decide. Similar to how you see it, I think.

    A choice is something we intuit, we know because we do, we don’t need to consider the data, we just know. Fun.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I went straight to check the dictionary definitions when I read this, but the comment about the etymology of the words was really interesting, reminding me of choice as a description of quality.

    Great post & comments LA 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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