how to make a good decision

How to Make a Good Decision

Effective decision-making is stressful and can often be time consuming. We are presented with so many decisions every day ranging from whether we should go to the gym, what TV show we should watch, or when we should apply for a new job. Sometimes we compromise when faced with a tough decision, occasionally we randomly choose and other times we spend days trying to make the most logical decision. Once in a while we procrastinate hoping it goes away.

Making decisions is linked to our emotions, which often cloud our judgment making it seem nearly impossible to make a “good” choice.  We also want to learn from our experiences and mistakes, so often times there’s a lot going on when we try to make a choice.

But we can learn how to make a good decision by using some new tools. Here are five tips that may help you to separate the emotions and make the process of decision making a little more manageable.

1. Know your goal

Ask yourself, “What do I really want?” Really think about what the problem is and what your desired outcome to that specific problem is. Don’t make a decision based on the wrong problem. Stick with your personal core values and challenge any assumptions you may have about certain choices.

2. Pretend like you’re advising a friend.

This trick helps you step away from your personal emotions and look more objectively at the situation. Pretend as though you’re advising a friend when creating a pros and cons list and help that friend prioritize or rank what you come up with. Stepping away from your emotions may lead you to realize a third option you didn’t see at first or to step out of your comfort zone and test a new idea.

3. Limit the amount of information you research.

At a certain point, too much information is not helpful. It’s important to remember to be educated, not overwhelmed. We have a tendency to try to convince ourselves of certain “truths” after receiving too much information on one topic. We even have the ability to convince ourselves that certain things are more important than they really are after researching them for too long.

4. Don’t rush but put a time limit on it.

Making hasty decisions when you’re stressed out or in a bad mood typically won’t lead to success, so don’t rush! However, similar to tip #3, you need to know your limits. Gather the necessary information and allow yourself to sit on it for a short while, relax, and then come back to it.

5. Realize there is no such thing as “the best.”

Ignore anything more over the top than what you really need. Remember that what works for you may not work for everyone else. It’s OK to identify something as good enough for you even if it’s not ranked “the best.”

Most decisions are not life or death and can often be reversed. Have confidence, know yourself, and GO FOR IT! After a decision, reflect on how you feel and what about the experience did or didn’t work for you so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes the next time.

What are other tips that work for you to make effective decisions?

Nikki Lutin, LCSW - NYC Therapist

Nikki Lutin, LCSW - NYC Therapist

Offering individual and couples counseling in NYC. Specializing in Anger Management, Depression, Self-Esteem, Grief & Loss, and Parenting,
Nikki Lutin, LCSW - NYC Therapist

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4 replies
  1. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    Thanks for this post. I often have clients come in with some area of indecision, sometimes a pivotal, life-changing decision, and sometimes a more pervasive pattern of indecisiveness. These are great suggestions to help folks move through to clarity! I also recommend sitting quietly in reflection / meditation – it can help to get out of the neocortex and settle into silence. Often intuitive answers await.

    Reply
  2. Glenn
    Glenn says:

    This is a good reminder to resist overthinking and become preoccupied with making the perfect decision. I find it useful to give myself a deadline or time frame to avoid getting caught up in overthinking.

    Reply
  3. Omar
    Omar says:

    I love the idea of limiting the amount of information you gather. I find that it’s so easy to spend more time just doing the research than actually working towards the goal itself. Great work!

    Reply
  4. Cate
    Cate says:

    Really helpful tips! I like the point about advising a friend. We are often more compassionate and forgiving when it comes to our friends. Taking a step back can help to stay more objective and not get caught up in our emotions or negative self-talk.

    Reply

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