Life is all about making choices, every day we make decisions that shape our lives and our destinies. From mundane things like choosing what color of toothbrush you like, or what color shirt best matches your jeans. To complex, life-changing decisions like choosing which career path to follow, or who to marry, we do all by choice.
A choice comes as a result of free will, or as I always say, choice is the price of free will. Because having free will does not only mean being able to choose for yourself but also being responsible for your choices. That responsibility has a name, it is called a consequence. That is how great the power of choice is. The consequence of one bad decision can cause you years of suffering. So, in order to live an efficient, highly productive, and successful life, it is vital to know how to make good decisions. Luckily for you, you just picked up the right article for that.
How to Make Good Decisions
- Clearly Define Your Goal.
The very first thing you have to do when it comes to decision making is to clearly identify and define your goal. Always remind yourself of the purpose of your decision and what you hope to achieve. Defining your goals like this erases any confusion and builds within you, passion, hope, and motivation towards achieving the goal.
- Be Well-informed on the Subject.
Before you can even start to make a decision, you need to have a complete understanding of the subject and situation. Otherwise, you will be making an uninformed choice, which is the same as shooting in the dark. Always make sure to gather all the necessary information available on the subject, doing this will help you see the fullest picture and the entire range of options available to you. This further allows you to do the best possible assessment of those options, with regards to your abilities, resources, values, and goals.
Also keep in mind that not all decisions require much information, in fact, too much information can be a bad thing. Because you may end up overwhelming yourself and being unable to decide, or just spend too much unnecessary time trying to. Limit yourself to the relevant information you need to make the most informed decision and nothing more.
- Consider the consequences.
Every decision carries consequences; these consequences can be positive and/or negative. Therefore, before making any decision, you have to think about the full extent of the consequences of that decision. Evaluate and consider the possible advantages and disadvantages of making that decision. Writing down and comparing this data will allow you to make a more informed decision.
This is where you also consider how your decision will affect those around you; ideally, a good decision has more advantages than disadvantages.
- Properly examine your past failures.
Very often, we fail to consider and properly examine our past failures. But reflecting on our past mistakes opens up a treasure chest of information, which is crucial when we’re trying to make better decisions. In so doing, we can be careful enough not to repeat the same mistakes, and also be able to further narrow down on more relevant, and actionable strategies for future decision making.
Apart from our personal growth and better judgment, examining our past failures can also contribute to the growth of the people around us, and help them make better decisions too.
- Make more accurate self-assessments.
One of the greatest challenges we all face is the challenge of accurate self-assessment. There is the tendency of either an over or an underestimation when assessing one’s own abilities. But when making decisions, we can all agree that an inaccurate self-evaluation will lead to undesirable results. Having an ironclad appraisal of your own abilities therefore cannot be overstressed. The trick lies in a two-step mental process; self-acceptance and Self Mastery.
Self Acceptance – Loving and accepting all of you. That is strengths and weaknesses.
Self Mastery – Understanding how to employ both your strengths and weaknesses for the highest possible value.
This mindset will ensure an accurate self-assessment, which in turn translates to better decision making.
- Seek Counsel from GOD.
GOD created you, and knows everything about your life, who better to seek counsel from than Him? “Roll your works upon the Lord, commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and so shall your plans be established and succeed”. – Proverbs 16:3. Whenever you want to make a decision in your life first, seek to inquire of the Lord, that He may direct your decisions to be in alignment with His purpose for you. This way, your decisions will never be amiss.
- Seek Counsel from the Right People.
It is an added advantage to seek counsel, but not just from anybody. Not everybody is qualified to counsel you, you have to seek counsel from the right people. For example, if you want to build a house, don’t go looking for feedback from someone who has never built a house before; rather, go to someone who has successfully built one, and from whose experiences and wisdom you can learn from.
Also, before you seek counsel from anyone make sure you are aligned with them in purpose, values, and interests.
- Make your Decision
After clearly defining your goal, getting all the necessary information, considering the consequences, examining your past failures and mistakes, evaluating your own abilities, and seeking counsel, what comes next is making the decision. Of course, there will be more than one alternative to choose from, and for most people, this can bring much anxiety and/or confusion. But life is all about choice, so you must get used to making them. Just trust the process and then go ahead and make your decision.
- Evaluate Your Choice.
This is the part where you make double sure that you have made the right decision. Try criticizing your decision and your approach, ask yourself tough questions; Is this God’s will for your life? Is there anything you haven’t thought about? Does your choice best serve your purpose, values, and interests? How is your choice going to play out in the long run? Only continue after you confidently answer all the questions. Evaluating your choices like this will also allow you to grow and make better decisions in the future.
- Take Action Immediately.
After thoroughly test proofing your decision, the only thing that is left to do is to take action immediately. Communicate your decision to the relevant parties, and then jump straight into the doing. Remember, the choice is only validated with action.
Other things to consider
- Always pen down your decision-making process: This may look like a mundane and boring practice but believe me it is effective. Any plan which is not written down is still only a dream. And don’t say you have it memorized; you can rely on your brain only for so long. One day you may forget, so why even take the chance? Also, written plans act as visual reinforcement, just looking at them renews your drive.
- There are always unforeseen circumstances: No matter how hard you try you can never plan for everything, there are always unforeseen circumstances, factors you didn’t plan for. That is why you always have to be willing and ready to improvise so that when “life happens” you don’t get stuck to the ground but you find other ways to keep going.
- Do not second guess yourself: After you have made your decision and have taken action towards it, no matter what happens do not second guess yourself. You’re going to have to accept the fact that not everyone will be okay with your decision but that doesn’t make you wrong. Do away with all doubt, trust your heart (intuition) and see your decision through.
- Learn from but do not depend on past experiences: Over the course of our lives we have made a countless number of choices some ended in joy and others in pain and there is always this tendency to approach new choices in our lives with the knowledge and wisdom we’ve amassed from our past experiences. But because something failed or succeeded in the past doesn’t mean it will turn out the same way now. It is good to learn from our past experiences but relying entirely on them would be wrong because, in life, no two situations are the same. Therefore, treat every new experience as unique and separate from any other; this will allow you to always keep an open mind, and a clear vision.
- When certain, listen to your gut: Remember meeting someone for the first time, and in a matter of seconds, you were already certain you could not trust that person. And it turned out you were right? But how could that be when you only just met them? The short answer is you had a gut feeling. You don’t know, and can’t explain how you knew, but you knew. I read a book last year titled “Blink” and it taught me so much about gut feeling. I recommend it to everyone, it is a great book. Basically, the author talks about the innate ability of our subconscious to make accurate snap decisions in a matter of seconds. And these instinctive decisions are usually more accurate than the ones we come up with after crunching on data for at least a couple of hours. But our personal emotions, desires, and thoughts can interfere with the snap judgments of our subconscious and mislead us. Of course, learning to take advantage of this innate ability is a life-long process, but if you have an instinctive stimulus when trying to make a decision; that gut feeling, and you are certain in your heart beyond the shadow of a doubt, then, listen to your gut. Or at the very least, factor it into your final decision.
The decisions we make shape the events of our lives and play the most vital role in determining our future. You have just learned how to make good decisions but what you do with this information is what truly matters. We can do nothing about the time we’ve already lost, but what we can do, is decide to stop wasting our time. So, if you want a good present and an even better future, start making better decisions today.