Probably one of the challenging things that we are doing on a daily basis is making a decision. In fact, Ernst Pöppel, a brain researcher, said that we make almost 20,000 decisions every day and most of them are done with lightning speed or unconsciously. But majority of us would still consider decision making as one of the toughest activities that we do constantly, especially if bigger things are at stake like our career and success, and not just merely choosing what food to eat, clothes to wear or what particular product suits our standards and is worthy enough to be purchased.
With the vast options under the sun, how are we sure that we are living our lives to the fullest while making wise decisions that can have a long-term impact to our success in the future?
7 Steps in Wise Decision Making
STEP 1: Evaluation
This is where the “pros” and “cons” come in. And the best way to evaluate possible options is by creating a list of both positive and negative results. All we need to do is to get a piece of paper, fold it in half, and on top of the paper label it with one of our possible options. Afterwards, list down all the advantages on the left side and the disadvantages on the right. We can write as many as we want and we can also decide if we want to use the backside of our paper for our option 2 or get a separate sheet of paper for it. Remember, that we should not limit ourselves in the idea of choosing between 2 options only, which means that we are also free to have 3 or more options, depending on our preference and situation. (e.g. If you are planning to transfer to another university nearby, it is best if you will choose from the Top 3 or Top 5 best schools in your area.)
STEP 2: Consultation
At this stage of decision making, we open ourselves to other people’s opinion and advice regarding our situation. Put in mind that we should only seek for people who are wiser, more mature and older than us, given that they have more experience regarding the matter, which will ensure that we will not input insights that may lead us astray.
STEP 3: Preparation
According to Chloe Carmichael Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, “The bigger the decision, the more time this might take.” It is not a requirement for you to decide immediately after consulting other people’s point of view. Because sometimes there is a tendency that we are too emotional at the moment which may affect our rational decision making skills leading to poor judgment. Lack of sleep and enough rest may also be a hindrance for us to decide wisely. That is why it is a must that before making the decision we are emotionally, mentally, and physically prepared to do it. It is also a good idea for us to adapt the “10,10,10 Strategy” which was popularized by Suzy Welch. According to Welch, before making a decision we must conceptualize the idea of how we would feel after 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. In doing this strategy, we are keeping the future in mind and not being persuaded easily by short-term rewards that will not lead to lasting satisfaction.
STEP 4: Implementation
After carefully evaluating, consulting, and preparing to make the decision. Now is the time to proceed with the verdict. In this stage of the process, we must have courage to stand firm in our conviction. We must also learn to trust ourselves that we can do it. Take note that “making no decision is still a decision.” Which Benedikt Ahlfeld explained as another means of giving full authority to someone else to take control of our lives by letting them decide for us. It is true that we still need guidance from adults, but as we get older, we should become more independent to decide for our own well-being.
STEP 5: Brace for Impact
We should also be prepared to face the consequences of our decision. It might seem terrifying at first, especially if we took the risk and be brave enough to get out of our comfort zones, but eventually we will get used to it and we might realize that taking the leap of faith will bring us to a whole new level of great opportunities.
STEP 6: Acceptance and Accountability
Even if the outcome of our decision is not what we have planned in mind, we must learn to accept our situation and be accountable for whatever we have decided. Let us not waste our energy in regrets. Instead, we must embrace change and refrain from blaming others and especially ourselves during difficult circumstances.
STEP 7: Realization
Wise people learn from their mistakes. After they are finish with contemplating what they have done wrong, they move on with their lives and not burden themselves by carrying excess loads of stress, guilt, and criticisms. This might take a while, but as time goes by, we will realize that this will contribute for the betterment of ourselves.
Wise decision making is a trial and error. There is no guarantee that we will not encounter regrets after choosing one side in any situation. But for sure, it will always result to self-improvement, because we are learning to value the importance of proper planning before executing anything. As long as we are happy and we do not bring harm to other people, then there is nothing to worry about.
Ahlfeld, B. (2016, December 24). The Power of Decision Making. Lecture presented at TEDxTalks in Orpheum Graz, Steiermark Austria. Retrieved from: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5429gGL1s4
Augustus, D. (2018, March 28). The Art of Decision Making. Retrieved from: https://www.deverneaugustus.com/single-post/2018/03/28/The-Art-of-Making-Good-Decisions
Schreiber, K. (2016, February 10). 6 Signs You’re Making the Wrong Decision. Dayton Daily News. Retrieved from:https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.daytondailynews.com/lifestyles/health/signs-you-making-the-wrong-deision?VHPhdpksE32jJM0CEoV8HK/amp.html
Welch, S., & Welch, J. (2010). 10-10-10-10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years: A Fast and Powerful Way to Get Unstuck in Love, at Work, and at Home(1st ed.). New York: Scribner