How to Make Better Decisions

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Sometimes a decision is so obvious that it doesn’t take a lot of time or energy to come to a conclusion. However, there are other times when making a decision is a long and agonizing process. Deciding one way or another could significantly impact you and possibly the lives of others. In moments like these, it’s important to think carefully about your next move.

1. Relax

It’s difficult to make a sound decision when you’re under stress. Take time to calm down and take a few deep breaths. It may help to take a break from whatever it is you’re doing; take a walk so that you can clear your head.

2. Research

You won’t be able to come to your best decision without all of the facts. Dedicate some time toward conducting background research. Once you have your data, see whether it supports or negates the decision you want to make.

3. Slow down

Don’t rush to make a decision. A recent study showed that pausing for just a fraction of a second can improve one’s ability to make a decision. So don’t feel pressured to decide right away.

“Postponing the onset of the decision process by as little as 50 to 100 milliseconds enables the brain to focus attention on the most relevant information and block out irrelevant distractors. This way, rather than working longer or harder at making the decision, the brain simply postpones the decision onset to a more beneficial point in time,” said Jack Grinband, PhD, one of the research authors.

4. Assess pros and cons

Make a list of the benefits and risks of the decision you’re making. If the risks outweigh the benefits, you likely have your answer. Take your time and make a thorough listing so that you’re able to analyze all sides of the issue.

5. Be realistic

If you find yourself really straining to find positives for your pros and cons list, that is also a sign that you have your answer. Don’t try to force a decision in a specific direction just because you want the outcome to go a certain way. Be honest with yourself.

6. Banish fear

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Don’t let fear be your guide. Deciding to go in a specific direction based on fear will rob you of experiencing the life you were truly meant to have. The only way to get over your fear is to face it. Make sure when you make your final decision that fear is not lurking behind your reasoning. Ask yourself if this is what you really want and if your motivations are clear.

7. Go with your gut

Ultimately, you need to be comfortable with your decision. If you are still uneasy after deciding, then you may need to further investigate whether you chose the right path. Carefully retrace your decision-making process and see where you may have gone wrong. It will be worth it to take the time so that you can be sure. Often, your instincts can be your greatest guide.

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