Decision making is important. It is such an integral part of our lives. We face making decisions at work, we make decisions for our children, we make decisions for our spouses, and we make decisions for ourselves. Yet, what I have found, is although people generally talk about the importance of making great decisions, they don’t inform you about how to do so. In reality, there are several steps that should be involved in making sound decisions. By understanding these simple processes, decision making can be made easier. If you are the type of person who has trouble deciding what you want to eat on an everyday basis, if you hate making decisions, or if you avoid decision making like the plague, please continue to read. Simply employing these steps will make the decision-making process a lot easier.
Whenever you are faced with a decision, whether small or large you should first ask yourself “What is my goal for making this decision?” Let’s take the deciding what to eat scenario for instance. Are you hungry? Does your spouse suddenly volunteer to take you out and now you have to choose a restaurant? What is your goal for deciding what to eat? Is it to make your spouse happy? Is it because you guys need some alone time? Simply developing or understanding your goal for having to make a decision is the first step in taking action.
After goal setting, you should compile your options for producing the goal. For example, if you decide that you want to go back to school after taking a break, you might need to decide what school you want to go to, whether you need a tutor, or how much money you’ll need to pay for everything. Whatever you do, important decisions should be thought out and your options should be considered. Make a pros and cons list. Talk to the people who will be affected by your decision. Even in decision making that is controlled by time constraints, this second step should be taken.
Next, you should rank order your options. Which option is more realistic? Which option will be the best for your life circumstance? Will this option benefit you in more ways than one? This step is where decision making gets tough. At this point, you must be self-aware, intellectual, and open. Most people say that emotions should not go into decision making, however, emotions are what make us human. Since the outcome of your decision will not be free from emotion, the feelings you have surrounding your options should also be examined. There should always be a good balance between intellect and emotions when forming a decision.
Lastly, you should take the big step and make a choice. Choices that are well thought out are often the best choices. When you have examined the pros and cons of various options and put things into perspective for yourself, you will feel more confident in your ability to decide. Even if things don’t turn out the way you intend after making your decision, you can at least be comfortable with knowing that you took the appropriate steps.
Byrnes, J. P., Miller, D. C., & Reynolds, M. (1999). Learning to make good decisions: A self‐regulation perspective. Child Development, 70(5), 1121-1140.