We make hundreds, maybe even thousands, of decisions every day. Our everyday decisions affect our accomplishments, our relationships, and our general well being. Given their recurrence and significance, how can we make better decisions all the more often? One way is to consistently ask questions that lead to better decisions, let me demonstrate….
1. Would this decision improve the lives of others?
Overlooking the effect of our decisions on others goes against our best interest. Why? Since mutual relationships and concern are a key part of achievement and prosperity. Thus, a decision to help other people, to offer thanks, or to cultivate social association, is usually a good one. Likewise, we benefit from thinking about the effect that our decisions have upon others in a range of ways.
2. Does this decision lined up with my long-term objectives?
What’s most important to you? What is going to be most instrumental to your success? If you haven’t done so already, consider recording your answer to that question and referring to it regularly. A fierce effort over time to our outcomes is basic to accomplishing anything of meaning. When making a decision, consider if it is serving your main objectives and goals in some effective way.
3. How might I move to the best decisions?
It’s January (for example) and you’ve chosen that for the rest of the year you will eat healthier. Think of it as done! …right??? Alright, perhaps not exactly yet. To nudge your impulsive self to act consistently with that ideal outcome, appropriate cues can help. For example, placing healthy foods within easy view and easy reach, while doing the opposite for unhealthy foods, may help you to make progress toward your goal. What can you do to help yourself make healthier decisions. I find that good decisions enjoy one another’s company – whenever I start the day off with exercise and healthy decisions, they become easier to maintain for that day. Therefore, I make it a main objective to be sure to get out in the morning. Know yourself and cultivate an environment that fosters better decisions.
4. Would it be a good idea for me to think from an alternate point of view before choosing?
Once in a while our cognitive biases or predispositions or slanted beliefs may prevent us from seeing an honest picture of our selves or our lives. Approaching others for guidance is one way to compensate for our blind spots. Another way is to utilise objective algorithms, which are sometimes more effective than human instinct at making complex judgments. A shortcut that approximates third-party advice: what advice would I give to a friend? Another trick to spark a new perspective: what would I do if I couldn’t implement the options I’ve already considered? Let go of yourself, truly step into the shoes ( or rather, the mindset) of another person and take on a new perspective regarding the decision.
5. Would it be a good idea for me to replenish my energy before settling on a decision?
I spoke about this and the science behind it in my previous article on my blog. Have you at any point settled on an awful decision when you were worn out, hungry, or encountering compelling feelings? We all have! Next time you end up settling on a potentially consequential decision in similar conditions, consider whether you could first take a replenishment break. Evidence suggests that a short walk outside may boost your energy and mood, and make sure you have good blood sugar levels – these things are proven to enhance your decision making and making better decisions.
6. Might I be able to put off this decision a few days without negative effect?
Prior to imparting anything, consider the guidance of comic Craig Ferguson: “Does this need to be said? By me? Now?” In addition to checking your motivations, postponing action may give you time to gather new information, and in some cases, an issue may even resolve itself without your intervention. Postponing action may also give necessary space to others. Pause to consider whether no action or deferred action, might be your best decision.
7. How can I practice or test this potential decision before finalizing it?
To avoid regretting a major decision, consider whether you could preview the decision in a low-risk way. For example, before buying a house in a city that’s new to you, could you rent for several months to become familiar with the neighborhoods? Before investing your entire life’s savings using a new strategy, could you back test the new approach to see how it performed historically? Before leaving an established career to earn a degree in a new field, could you provide free support to someone working in that field to confirm that you love the work? Often, we can reduce our risk and improve the quality of our decisions by testing the waters before jumping in with both feet. Although there is no doubt that social pressure can adversely affect our judgement, there are occasions when it can be harnessed as a force for good. In a recent experiment researchers led by Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University in Tempe looked at ways to promote environmentally friendly decisions. They placed cards in hotel rooms encouraging guests to reuse their towels either out of respect for the environment, for the sake of future generations, or because the majority of guests did so. Peer pressure turned out to be 30 per cent more effective than the other motivators. If you did not want to engage fully in a test run as suggested here, you could imagine the outcomes playing out. I do this and teach my clients to do this using self-hypnosis and imagining being in a range of outcomes and compare them to inform my decisions and subsequent decision making.
8. How can I combine the best of all options?
We often think of our decisions as decisions between two options. But why not combine the best among all options? For example, when considering whether to stay with the company you love or to go to your dream job at another company, consider this: can you do both, by working with your current employer to craft your dream job at the company you already love?
If you’ve tried all the questions above and things still aren’t going according to plan, don’t forget this final question….
9. What can I learn from this experience?
Have you reflected objectively on the decisions you’ve made in the past?
Life’s challenges are a tremendous source of learning, though sometimes the lessons we learn are painful. Sometimes our pain is self-inflicted through our own mistakes. Other times, an outcome is not what we desire despite reasonably good decisions and actions on our part. If we learn from each experience, even setbacks can enrich our lives and help us to make better future decisions.
“The key to accepting responsibility for your life is to accept the fact that your decisions, every one of them, are leading you inexorably to either success or failure, however you define those terms.” — Neal Boortz.
Although no one makes perfect decisions all of the time, asking ourselves the right questions can help us to make better decisions more frequently. Better decisions will lead to greater achievements, stronger relationships, and increased well-being. If you persist resiliently toward purposeful goals with people you care about and who care about you, you’re already successful in important and meaningful ways that should give you confidence for continued growth!