Was there ever a day in your life when you never had to make a single decision? If there was, you must have spent that day in a dream, as a day like that never exists in reality. Every waking moment of our day is filled with crossroads. Which clothes should I wear? Where should I go for lunch? Should I even meet this person? The worse part? The options are virtually unlimited.
In a TED talk entitled ‘The Paradox of Choice’ by Barry Schwartz, a local grocery is a home to about 285 different types of cookies, 230 distinct soups and about 175 different options on salad dressing. How can you expect to make a right decision on which things to buy amidst the sea of choices? By incorporating some effective steps to make better decisions.
Let’s take a look at the following seven simple steps to do so:
1. Know everything you need to know
A lot of people choose what makes them feel good. However, the output of some major decisions should not be entirely dependent on your emotion at a given moment. It is particularly true since feelings can dramatically change in an instant.
Rather than listening solely to gut feel, why not take a look at previous decisions and mistakes, and learn from them. Gather all information related to the decision that you are about to make. By doing so, you are allowing yourself to stand on the right foot.
2. Know what your principles are
Principles are what guide your morality. It is usually a pre-defined set of moral values which guides you through life. The entire process of decision making becomes a whole lot easier if you already know what you believe in.
Your principles serve as your standard. These rules will filter what you think is wrong, and the things that you feel are good.
3. Ask for ‘mature’ advice
This information can come from a professional, or an expert in this field. However, if the decision that you need to make is not that severe enough to merit professional help, you can always turn to mature people who can provide you what you need.
Keep in mind, however, that being mature does not come with age alone. In fact, you may even get valuable lessons from those younger than you. Maturity is often linked to experiences in life. Therefore, be alert in learning from these experiences.
4. Set your goals
The thing with goals is that it gives you a structure to follow. This particularly applies if you place deadlines on your goals. They will allow you to feel motivated in achieving them. Goal setting is one aspect of the process that you need to give consideration. Without goals, you are like a runner aimlessly running without a direction.
5. Rule out inferior options
At this point, it is recommended to write down all your options, removing those that are considered as inferior. These options are those which may not work well together with your established values and principles. While consolidating your selection, you will become much closer to making the right choice.
6. Write down the pros and cons
This process may require you to keep on repeating the ‘What if’ scenario. For practicality’s sake, you can write the advantages and disadvantages of every option. You can ask ‘what if’ I do this? What would be the benefits/risks?
You can also take into consideration the ratio between cost and benefit, as it will help in neutralizing emotional balance through your collection of thoughts. Giving enough time to do so will allow you to make a well-informed decision later on.
7. Give yourself a deadline
As you weigh all your options, getting trapped with the idea that you need to spend too much time in looking for possible solutions will make the entire process stressful and challenging.
Make sure that you give yourself a realistic deadline, if possible, writing the date down, and carefully sticking to it. Identifying with the assurance that your decision is backed up by the right details will also remove the weight off your shoulder.
By the end of the seven steps, you already know how to make better decisions. Again, your decisions may not be the best, but they have improved a lot. If you are still unsure of the decision you have chosen, you can also take advantage of a second opinion from other people.
Psychologists even recommend that it is better to consult older people. This is because younger people have a huge tendency of getting pulled by immediate results. Do not be afraid to ask around immediately to be guided accordingly. All in all, following the steps mentioned above, will increase your determination to make better decisions.
Maybe you have different ways to do it? Let me know in the comment section below!