Making Smart Choices: 7 Tips to Make Effective Decisions

Everyday, we are faced with situations in life that require us to be decisive. Knowing how to make effective decisions — such as what to wear to a job interview or how we should invest our money — is a crucial to living a fulfilling life. Unfortunately, making effective decisions can be extremely difficult, especially if we’re making life changing decisions that can heavily impact our future. 

There are numerous ways to be an effective decision maker

There are numerous variables that go into making our choices, so how can we truly distinguish a “good” from a “bad” decision?  Well, making good decisions is a method that has to be learned. It’s not something we are innately born with, but merely a step-by-step process that’s obtained from our life experiences. Fortunately, there are numerous techniques we can adopt to perfect our decision-making process. Studies have found that the effort and time we put into executing our decisions correlate to a higher level of its success. Being able to make those decisions in a confident manner can not only save us a lot of time, but it can also increase the likelihood that our decisions will have a positive impact. If you want to become a better decision-maker, here are 5 habits you can incorporate into your life:

How to Be an Effective Decision Maker

1. Identify Your Goal

Identifying your goal is the first step in being an effective decision maker.

One of the most effective decision making strategies is to keep an eye on your goal. This simply means to identify the purpose of your decision by asking yourself what exactly you want to accomplish or solve. Do you want to enhance your company’s metrics, such as productivity levels? Do you want to increase your market share, or solve security problems such as virus attacks or data leaks? 

Figuring out what is most important to you will help you make decisions you’re confident in. Identifying your goal can align your efforts to obtain your desired outcome, and help minimize distractions along the way. When you fully understand the reason behind your particular decision, it will better motivate you to stick with it and defend it.

2. Gather Your Information & Brainstorm Alternatives

After you've identified your goal, gather all information related to your decisions

When it comes to making effective decisions, it’s important to gather necessary information directly related to your goal or problem. Doing so will not only help you better understand what needs to be done, but it will also help you generate ideas for a possible solution.
When gathering information, it’s best to make a list of every possible alternative — even if some may seem silly or unrealistic. Laying out your options will help you visualize the impact of selecting each option, and will guide you to make more informed decisions. Always seek the opinions of those that you trust or speak to  professionals! This will help you come up with a variety of solutions when weighing all your options for a final decision.

3. Weigh Your Options & Consider the Risks

Remember to weigh your options and consider the risks to your decisions.

Considering your options and their risks is important because it will help you determine how your final decisions will impact yourself and others involved. Reviewing the pros and cons of each option will give you the chance to catch any risks you had not considered. When weighing your options, you may ask yourself:

  • What are the most likely results of my decision?
  • How will it affect me now?
  • How will it affect my future?

Imagining what could happen before you choose can help guide you toward the best decision. Consider how your decisions would improve your life and those close to you. This approach can be more effective than making a list of pros and cons, as it recognizes not every benefit or drawback is weighted equally. Communicating with others during your decision-making process can also provide fresh perspectives that may offer alternatives you had never considered. The key thing to remember is to feel comfortable with all of your options and their possible outcomes when you finally choose. ‍

4. Make Use of Your Available Time

Make use of the time you have when you make your decisions.

Rushed decisions are rarely the best decisions. When we make decisions too quickly, we are often guided by biases and natural inclinations rather than objective information. Make sure to take advantage of the time you have available to conduct your decisions.

If someone wants a quick answer, try to ask if you can have more time. While this is not always possible, having extra time to gather information and reflect usually leads to better decisions. If you have limited time, try developing a counter-argument for the decision you are considering. Debating with yourself — even for a short time — can help you make more conclusive decisions in the moment.

5. Make Your Final Decision

Once you’ve collected all the relevant information and analyzed the alternatives, it’s time to make a hard decision. If you’ve followed a thorough decision-making model, hopefully determining your final decision isn’t too difficult. It’s understandable this step can cause a lot of anxiety. At times, it can be difficult to pull the trigger, even when a rational decision is staring you right in the eye.

If you find yourself indecisive or dwelling on the worst-case scenario, remember to trust your instinct. Ask yourself: does this decision feel right? Does this decision work best for you now, and in the future? When you answer these questions, you should feel a bit more relieved with your decision.

6. Accept That You Won’t Always Like Your Final Decision

Oftentimes, we won’t like the final decisions we make, and that’s 100% okay! We often hesitate to make a final decision just because we don’t like it — even when we know it’s the best one to choose. Just because a decision is right, it doesn’t mean it’s any easier to make. 

Every decision we make has potential consequences for us and for others as well, which is why it’s vital to embrace the outcomes that entails. Regardless of your decision, it’s important to reassure yourself that everything will be okay. If you make your decisions carefully without fear holding you back, you can feel more confident with the results that occur. 

7. Evaluate How Your Decision Turned Out & Reflect

Once you’ve made your final decision and put it into action, it’s time to evaluate how your decision turned out and the steps you’ve taken to ensure it worked. This final step is probably just as important as the first step — if not more important. It will not only help you further develop your decision making skills for future problems, but it will help seek out new information and make additional changes along the way.

Every decision you make comes with an opportunity to learn. Reflect on the choices you make and their outcomes. Note whether the results were favorable or whether they could be improved. By identifying areas for improvement, you can ensure you’ll make more effective decisions. 

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