How to make better decisions August 21, 2015

We make thousands of decisions every day, without even thinking about it anymore. But there are also those decisions we struggle with a lot. Here are some tips on how to make better decisions:

1. Initial response

What were your initial thoughts and emotions when confronted with the problem? Usually first ideas and feelings that pop into our heads are very useful, because in a matter of a few seconds we have already formed a first response. Instead of acting on it right away on impulse though, take good notice of it for later!

2. What are your feelings, emotions telling you about it?

Now, after the first initial reaction in your brain, analyze the situation. Become aware of your gut instinct, and your emotional response to the problem at hand. Maybe it is not a problem, but simply a choice that has to be made. Take note of your feelings and think about why you have them, when it comes to this. For example: Sometimes, if we are anxious about something, it is helpful to take this into consideration and act accordingly. Now, if we are anxious a lot and suffer from anxiety on a regular basis, an anxious feeling might be misleading. You really have to tune in to yourself and trust your instincts. But be aware, that sometimes our emotions can hold us back from new experiences, simply because we feel intimidated by change in general. You should never neglect your emotions in making decisions though. They are really vital for making good decisions! If you have strong, negative emotions about something, there are usually excellent reasons for that. And it might be a good idea to listen to them!

3. Pros and cons

Make a good old fashioned pro and con list. Whether you want to write it down or not, it is still a useful tool, if you are not sure what decision you want to make. Usually while analyzing the situation into categories like that, you already notice a tendency. What strikes you the most about this decision? The pros? Or the cons?

4. Think about it

Really think about the whole picture of the situation. Try to see different angles and think about whether this decision will affect your life in the long run. Does it matter in a week, year or even decade from now? Be aware of all possible implications. Now, this analyzing process should of course fit the importance of the decision at hand. What you eat for dinner should not be of that great of an importance, obviously! Involve both your heart and your head in the decisions you make. Do not decide strictly with only logic in mind; and coming from a purely emotional state, on the other hand, is not the ultimate answer either, when you want to make better decisions. Think before you act upon your very first internal reaction to a decision. Your gut instinct is usually a good guide, but it should not make up your entire thought process alone right away. Just combine rational thinking with your emotional side. If you feel extremely negatively about something, it is usually a warning sign you should take seriously! On the other hand, you should not lose your head and only act on what you feel like doing, no matter what the consequences are.

5. Take a time-out

Distance yourself from the decision process, and if possible, even sleep about it. For some reason it really helps to get distracted and think about other things for a while, before you make the decision. Otherwise, you might block yourself and stress too much about a decision. If you spend hours on a problem, you might focus too much on it without getting closer to a solution. Allow your mind to wander and do something else for a while.

6. Trust yourself!

Now that you thought about really everything, and thought it all through for a while, make the decision. Trust yourself! Chances are you will know exactly what to do and what the right decision for you is. Trust your intuition and know that even when things do not turn out as planned, you will be okay. Life cannot be completely planned out, we don’t know the future and we all make mistakes. With most things in life, we all have the possibility to change direction or choose to do things differently any time. You can always change your life and start new. Make the decision that you think is the right one for you! It is your life. Only you can know for sure, what’s right or wrong for you. You have to live with the decision, so trust yourself to make the right one! And live your life for yourself. If you are happy with a decision, it is probably the right one for you, in this moment. It will also feel right, if you know what I mean. Relax, and trust yourself. You are the designer of your own life!


Photography by © Farjad Karimimir / Unsplash


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