Photo credit: Jens Lelie @leliejens-unsplash

“It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions” – JimRohn

Decisions can be tough and emotionally charged. Minor or major consequences are often at stake. Other people can be impacted positively or negatively. Our integrity and courage are called into play. Decisions are most often something we do not like to make. We struggle with the right thing to do, we worry about how we or other people will be affected. We worry about people getting mad at us for our decisions and more times than not, we choose the path of least resistance. No one wants to rock the boat.
Decisions come with inherent risk. Do I denounce the dishonesty of my co-worker? Do I leave this well-paying job for one I am not sure about yet? Should I marry this person? Should we have one child or several? Should I move to another city or country? Should I confront this person about an issue? Should I confront my boss? There are so many decisions we have to make in life that it can be stressful and overwhelming at times. How can we find our way through the murky waters of decision-making?

“Life presents you with so many decisions. A lot of times, they’re right in front of your face and they’re really difficult, but we must make them.” —Brittany Murphy

There are good decisions and poor decisions and we all make them both fairly often- we are far from perfect and so are our decisions. Some (maybe many) we regret and others we are proud of. Some of our decisions have been the best thing we have done in our lives. In the hopes that this information will be helpful, let’s look at the factors contributing to poor decisions and then at some ideas for making more effective ones.

“Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we chose to be.” —Graham Brown


Factors That Prevent Us From Making Effective Decisions: 

1. Not looking at the whole picture

Sometimes we make decisions based on face value rather than looking at a broader perspective. By only looking at a narrow picture of the situation we fail to see the alternatives or options. Maybe the decision is a “which one” decision rather than an “either/or” decision. Maybe the decision could be two possibilities; an “and” decision. So, changing the lens we use for a wide-angle lens can help us to see the whole picture.

2. Having a biased viewpoint

We often seek and favor information that supports the way we are already leaning, which makes us blind to any information that would oppose the way we currently think about the issue. Something that can help here is to mentally take ourselves out of the picture and imagine that someone else is making the decision. Also getting objective perspectives from people whom we trust and who are also outside the decision-making process can help us see clearly.

3. Listening to Our Emotions

Although emotions are important and can be a driving force towards making decisions, they can also cloud our decision-making vision and cause us to lose our perspective. Our emotions can place us too close to the situation and prevent us from looking at all aspects-the whole picture. We need to think of using facts and information and not follow our emotions which are unreliable and change with the wind.

4. Being overly confident

Overconfidence is a big problem when making decisions. We tend to believe that we actually know about what will transpire in the future. Because we’re convinced that we’re right, we overestimate the positive consequences of our decision and underestimate the negative ramifications. It is better to take a stance of being humble and teachable and realize that we may not have all the answers or the facts.

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” —Keri Russell


How We Can Improve Our Decision -Making?

1. Have Good Timing

It is never a good idea to make important decisions when we are mentally fatigued, sick, tired, hungry, or emotionally charged. In these cases, any decisions made will not have been made with a clear head. We should always wait until we are fully there – physically, emotionally and mentally.
Timing is also about letting some time pass before pouring our decision into a concrete mold. It is better to sleep on the matter and come out with a clearer head.

2. Evaluate the Risks

What impact will our decision have on others around us? What consequences will it have? What is the best outcome? What is the worst scenario? Have we been objective in assessing the risks /impacts? Evaluating the risks objectively is crucial to sound decision-making.

3. Get All the Necessary Information

We need to make sure that we have all the necessary facts (not opinions) to evaluate the options. Do we have a complete understanding of the issue from an objective point of view? Are there trusted people around us who can provide us with information we may not have considered? Good preparation armed with good information is an excellent weapon against making poor decisions.

4. Involve Others

Are there trusted and competent people that we can consult with in order to help us arrive at an effective decision? Is there someone who knows how to solve this problem or has done it before? It is often advantageous to see the issue through outside, expert and objective eyes.

5. Have a Clear Plan

It is so much easier to make decisions when we have a clear idea of our long term goals in all aspects of our life. Then it is easier to put our decisions into the “this is beneficial long term” basket or the “this is detrimental long term” basket. A clear plan makes for clearer decisions.

6. Always Strive for a Win-Win Decision

There is nothing more gratifying in decision making than knowing we have done our best and considered all the options and people involved. A decision where everyone involved comes out a winner leaves us feeling that we have made a positive impact and builds our confidence in making future decisions.
We can not always be right in our decisions and sometimes we will make poor choices, but when we have tools in our toolbox, it’s easier to be effective and positive more often than not.

The Takeaway:

When we look at the whole picture and get all the facts, when we involve others (those whom we trust), when we make a plan and strive for a win-win outcome, making decisions can be a positive experience. Life will always be an ongoing process of decision-making; some will be easy and some will be gut-wrenching; some will have a long-lasting impact and some a temporal impact. Being equipped and prepared to help ourselves make effective decisions will go a long way toward making our life path smoother.

Has this information been helpful to you? Let me know in a comment.
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Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and her dog Skye. You can connect with her through