The Art of Decision-Making
When making a decision, we form opinions and choose actions via mental processes which are influenced by biases, reason, emotions, and memories. The simple act of deciding supports the notion that we have free will. We weigh the benefits and costs of our choice, and then we cope with the consequences. Factors that limit the ability to make good decisions include missing or incomplete information, urgent deadlines, and limited physical or emotional resources.
What are the types of decision-making?
When people are put in a familiar situation, their decisions are often fast and automatic, based on longtime experience with what works and what doesn’t. However, when encountering a situation they’ve never been in before, they have to take time to weigh the potential benefits and risks when choosing a course of action. They are more likely to make mistakes and face negative consequences.
What is informed decision-making?
The ability to think critically is key to making good decisions without succumbing to common errors or bias. This means not just going with your gut, but rather figuring out what knowledge you lack and obtaining it. When you look at all possible sources of information with an open mind, you can make an informed decision based on facts rather than intuition.
What are the methods of good decision-making?
A satisficing approach to making decisions involves settling for a good-enough outcome, even if it’s flawed. A maximizing approach, on the other hand, waits for conditions to be as perfect as possible to minimize potential risks. People who make good decisions know when it’s important to act immediately, and when there’s time to wait and gather more facts before making their choice.
How to Make Good Decisions
How do we choose between two or more options that seem equally appealing on the surface? Decision-making usually involves a mixture of intuition and rational thinking; critical factors, including personal biases and blind spots, are often unconscious, which makes decision-making hard to fully operationalize, or get a handle on.
However, there are steps to ensure that people make consistently excellent choices, including gathering as much information as possible, considering all the possible alternatives, as well as their attendant benefits and costs, and taking the time to sleep on weightier decisions.
How do you know if you’ve made a good decision?
In life, there is often no “right” decision. When surrounded by an abundance of options, it’s easy to experience decision paralysis or feel less satisfied with your decisions. You may even blame yourself when really you are going through “choice overload.” The key is to find ways to simplify your decision and not ruminate over the many roads not taken.
What skills are necessary when making decisions?
Decision-making can be stressful, and follow-through is essential. You may need to accept that panic, fear, and lack of self-confidence are often part of the decision-making process. It’s crucial to get enough sleep, so you can think clearly. Try to keep your priorities straight. Carefully weigh the trade-offs, commit to a decision, and then follow through on it.
How can you sharpen your decision-making skills?
Slow down the decision-making process to prevent impulsive choices. Be aware of common sales strategies like nudges and the decoy effect, which introduces a trick option to get individuals to make a certain decision. Gather as much information as you can, and don’t allow the desires of others to dictate your decision.
Reflect Upon Your Previous Decisions
Be honest with yourself, do you generally make the right decisions? There is no single person on this planet who makes the right decisions 100% of the time. If you get it right 60% of the time, you are doing well. Anything higher, especially with the critical decisions, will mean you can look back with pride.
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Step 5: Evaluate Your Decision
Once you have made your final decision and put it into action, it is necessary to evaluate the decision and the steps you have taken to ensure that it works. This final step is probably just as important as step one, if not more important, because it will help you to further develop your decision making skills for future problems. This step is also fundamental because it may require you to seek out new information and make some changes along the way.
Remember, this step requires some patience and it can also encourage perseverance. Why? Because it may take some time to see the final outcome. Recognizing that if the first decision is not working, you may have to go back to step two and choose another option.
Always looking for and anticipating unexpected problems will help alleviate undue stress, if and when a problem occurs. Although these five steps can help assist in simplifying the decision-making process, there are some common drawbacks that you must also take into account. Consider these:
Many times the problem will be obvious; but there may come a time when identifying the main problem is not that easy. When this issue arises, figuring out exactly what it is, and where you need to focus your efforts will save you a lot of time and energy in the long run.
When considering the consequences, you must be open to a broad choice of alternatives in order to find the best solution. This can become a problem if you rely solely on a single source of information because that one source may not b reliable, or may not be completely inline with the problem; thus altering your chances of making the best decision.
Having a variety of sources is usually not a bad thing; but not in every situation. Collecting as much information as possible can be very helpful at arriving to a decision, but an overload of information can leave you confused and misguided, and prevents you from following your intuition. Remember, trusting your gut instincts is a major key to making good decisions.
When making a decision and putting your plan into action you should have taken care to weigh all your valid options. Making a decision based upon an outcome that may not be plausible will not help you solve the problem.
Time can be a futile friend. Sometimes it is good, and sometimes it is not. When making major decisions, it beneficial to take your time in order to make the best choice from your options. But understanding the timing process is crucial because sometimes it is best to delay a decision, and other times delaying a response can cause more problems. There are also times when making a quick decision is advantageous because it allows you more time to make necessary changes should problems arise.
In summary we all have to make many decisions throughout our daily lives. Some of these decisions require little effort, while others require more time and deeper thought before coming to a final solution. Remember, there are five basic steps to good decision making. Why is those five the ideal number? Because a significant part of decision making skills is understanding and knowing a simple technique; and also regularly practicing that technique.
When there are more steps than we can count on one hand, most people tend to either forget a step, or misconstrue the order in which the steps must be taken. If you follow these five steps, and also remember the common pitfalls previously addressed, you will be well on your way to making good decisions for yourself.
For more information on decision making skills, you can read: Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions by Hammond, J.S., Keeney, R.L., and Raiffa, H., The Right Decision Every Time: How to Reach Perfect Clarity on Tough Decisions by Kopeikina, L., or How We Decide by Lehrer, J.
About the Author
Kescia D. Gray, RN, MS, PHN, CHES is the owner and president of GrayKo Clinical Consultants, LLC. Previously published in Corporate Wellness Magazine, she is also an international author and speaker. Some of her most recent works includes co-author of Raising Healthy Children in an Unhealthy World, The Teen Handbook for Self-Confidence, and Transformation: Reinventing the Woman Within.
GrayKo Clinical Consultants, LLC is a health and wellness education company dedicated to providing quality education programs, workshops, in-services, and seminars tailored to individuals, groups, and corporate clients.
Their detail-specific program plans can be customized to fit your needs in order to foster success at meeting your goals of better health, increased productivity, job satisfaction, health safety, and more.
Subject content related your needs and the needs of your company may include, but is not limited to stress management, emotional wellness, personal development, diet, and exercise. To contact Kescia Gray, please call (866) 653-2570.