How to become a good decision maker

When someone asks you to make a choice do you clam up or back away rather than give an answer? If so, you may need some guidance when it comes to making a decision.

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  • Most people go through a period in their lives where they really struggle with making decisions. Some people go their whole lives living this way. From what career to choose, who to marry, where to live, and how to be happy, life would be simpler if this was all decided for us. Unfortunately it is not that easy. We must decide what our future holds. Knowing if we have made the right decision or not is often the hardest part of the decision making process. So how do we know? How do we decide?

  • Here are some ideas to help you out.

  • Weigh your pros and cons

  • When deciding between two things or with a 'yes or no' decision, making a pros and cons list is a good way to go. Take a close look at the decision you have to make and consider the good and bad aspects. However, learning how to do this actually takes some practice; it's not just a simple math problem. You may have way more pros on your list than cons, but one bad aspect could really make all the good aspects irrelevant. Examine your list and see if there is a clear decision. You may get a gut feeling on which choice is right for you. If not, you may have some more exploring to do.

  • Meditate

  • Sometimes quick decisions are good. Our first reaction usually reflects our true inner desires. But there are times when taking a bit longer to come to a decision is needed. Take a few days to think about what the implications of your choice will be: A career change? A major move? Increased income, or greater debt? These major decisions are the kind that need more time.

  • Take time to think about it. Pray about it. Take some alone time to really explore how you feel. I don't mean for a minute or two, but a long walk alone. Or take an evening at home with just you and your thoughts. When you really explore what emotions you are experiencing when thinking about your decision, it can help you know if it is the right choice or not.

  • Talk it out

  • There are some decisions that are easier to make after talking about it. This does not necessarily mean you are looking for advice or approval, but saying something out loud can help work out details that may be mixed up in your mind. Make sure you chose a close friend or family member whose opinion you trust.

  • When you talk about what you're planning, other questions may come up. Don't worry, this process can help you make more sense of what you are trying to decide. Be sure to talk about all angles of your decision, both bad and good. Hopefully the person you confide in can help you make sure you are exploring all aspects of the decision.

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  • Don't ignore your instincts

  • There is something to be said about gut instincts. They can help us discern right from wrong, good or bad, and even what is exactly right for us. If you are thinking about pursuing a path that is completely different than anything you've ever done before, it may be hard to know if it will be right for you. Your instinct can help you with this. If you feel deep down it is the right thing to do, then do not hesitate. If you are unsure, then perhaps your plan needs some tweaking. Instead of going full force with the idea, approach it slowly and cautiously until you feel right about it.

  • Don't be afraid to fail

  • Sometimes our decisions just really do not work out. You may wish you could go back in time and make a different decision. Don't be afraid of these feelings. While it may feel like you have wasted time, money, energy, and opportunities, it is okay to fail. Failing builds character and makes us stronger.

  • In the long run, these failing experiences make future decisions easier. After failing, we more clearly know what we want out of this life. If you are not happy, then you need to change what you are doing. Perhaps you were scared to go after what you really want. Now that you have experienced the safer side of your choice and realize you are unhappy you will be even more sure of choosing what you really want.

  • Some people are really great at making decisions. They seem to have made all the right choices and are living the life you want. We can't all have perfect lives; in fact it is our mistakes that make us appreciate our triumphs even more. There may never be a perfect formula for making decisions, and unfortunately we can't blame someone else for the poor decisions we've made in life. But if we take some time, talk it out, and weigh the pros and cons, we may be able to be more confident in the decision making process.

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Megan Shauri graduated with a bachelors in anthropology and a masters in psychology. She is a mother of twins.

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