What is decision-making?
In its simplest sense, decision-making is the act of choosing between two or more courses of action. In the wider process of problem-solving, decision-making involves choosing between possible solutions to a problem (Skills You Need, 2016, para. 3).
Decision making occurs for each and every one of us every single day. What did you decide to wear this morning? What did you decide to do with your free time today? What did you decide to eat today? From small matters to really significant ones, decision making is a big part of our lives.
Although many of our decisions are more trivial in nature, such as the ones listed above, some of our decisions are quite important, and thus we want to be able to make these decisions as effectively as possible. For example, while it doesn’t really matter that your decision of clothing may have been a little off the mark, it does really matter what approach you’ll take to get through school, how you’ll juggle college with all of your other responsibilities, or how you’ll get yourself into your dream career one day. For these bigger decisions, you’ll want to use all of the tools at your disposal to shine!
Tips for Making Quality Decisions
For those decisions that you really want to ensure are the most effective ones possible, there are several tips that you can follow, which are listed below:
- Clearly identify the decision that you are making as well as what you want to achieve with that decision. Understand your goal(s) as clearly as possible before you start the decision-making process
- Collect as much information as you can when weighing options for the decision. In other words, do your homework! However, make sure that your effort is in balance with the importance of the decision. For example, don’t spend an hour deciding on what to eat for lunch but then spend five minutes on deciding which classes to take next term!
- Do some brainstorming to come up with numerous avenues to choose from with your decision. Assess these options to see if they align with your abilities, your interests, and your values.
- Envision the consequences of each option to determine the best/worst outcome for each. Do a little mental imagery to picture how each option might turn out for you.
- List out the pros and cons for each option. Add a value to these pros and cons in terms of prioritizing their importance to you. Making an actual list might help you to see more clearly just how much more desirable one option is over another.
- Ask those you trust and respect for input on the decision. Also, seek out insights from those who have been in similar situations. However, ultimately, make the decision on your own or only with those most closely affected by the decision, using the information and insights that you’ve gathered as well as your personal feelings on the matter.
- Use both your intuition (your “gut feeling”) and your reasoning (the information that you have) when making the decision.
- Decide! Commit to a decision but monitor what happens as a result to make sure that you’ve achieved what you wanted to achieve as effectively as possible. Don’t get so fearful about making an incorrect decision that you end up stuck.
- Don’t second guess yourself after you’ve made your decision but instead learn from it so that your future decisions are even stronger. Ask yourself these questions: How did it turn out? What about it was successful? What about it didn’t work out well? Why?
(Hereford, 2016; Skills You Need, 2016)
Ultimately, you are not psychic, so you will not know exactly how any given decision will turn out, but using the tips above will greatly increase your odds of having a successful decision-making experience!
Hereford, Z. (n.d.) Keys to making a good decision. Essential Life Skills. Retrieved from http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/gooddecision.html
Litemind. (2016). How to make great decisions in life: Top 5 practical insights. Retrieved from https://litemind.com/decision-insights/
Skills You Need. (2016). Decision making. Retrieved from http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/decision-making.html