By Christina Morrison, volunteer for the Pregnancy Care Centre
Each and every day we are forced to make choices. These choices can be simple, such as what to eat for breakfast, or they can be complicated, such as what career to choose. The choices we make often go on to produce a ripple effect in multiple areas of our lives, affecting relationships with friends or family. This is why it is important to understand and learn from the decisions we make in life. Of course no one seeks to make wrong decisions, so how then does one make a good decision?
What is a decision?
In order to understand fully what the process of making a good decision is, one must first apply a basic knowledge of what decisions are. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a decision is defined as “a choice that you make about something after thinking about several possibilities.”
From this definition we can assume that making decisions involves creative thought processes – we tend to think through the choices before making them. Although this is not true all of the time, I am sure that most can relate to the experience of making a choice in the moment without thinking it though. In the majority of cases this kind of decision-making often involves in poor results and regrets. Therefore, the purpose of this post is to clarify some creative ways to walk through the process of making a decision along with tips that may be helpful.
The Process of Making Good Decisions
Step One: Identify the Choice
The first step in the decision-making process should be to first identify the choice you have to make. It may sound like common sense, but often times people overlook the importance in setting clear guidelines and descriptions for what exactly he or she wants to decide. This may involve posing a question(s) or making a list of options. This list may only be two items or it may be several options long. Either way, it is good to know what you are choosing between.
Step Two: Understanding your Options
Information is key to any decision that you have to make in life. The more you know about each option, the more you are able to understand what path is right for you. Understanding this will allow you to justify your decision to yourself and others. Practically, this may involve going online to do some research. Of course, we can’t always believe what is on the internet so make sure that the information you are retrieving is accurate.
People are quick to make judgements and provide their opinions online, so it is important to make sure the source you are reading is reputable. It may be helpful to write a description for each option of your decision so that you have clearly defined what each choice means to you.
Step Three: Evaluate the Alternatives
The third step towards making a good decision involves evaluating. This means that you must think deeply about what the risks, benefits, and/or consequences of each option is. It may be helpful here to create a table or chart with a list of options as well as a column for positive and a column for negative qualities.
Weighing the pros and cons of each option can be a tedious task but it will help you to more fully understand each option and begin the process of thinking about how this decision may affect you or others in the future.
TIP 1: Remember your long-term goals. The decisions that you make today influence how you live tomorrow. So remember where you want to be in a year from now or even five years from now and how your decision may impact this.
TIP 2: Remember your values. In weighing your options, also remember who you are as a person and the values and opinions you hold. Does one of the options go against this? You may want to consider this when evaluating each option.
Step Four: Seek the Advice of Others
After you have carefully evaluated the decision and options you have, it may be beneficial for you to ask someone else for his or her opinion. This may be a family member or a close friend, but either way it should be someone that you trust.
Sometimes other people are able to see things that we ourselves cannot see. In doing this, it is important to remember that everyone is different and that it’s okay to have differing opinions from others. Ultimately, asking for the opinion of others may help to bring clarity to your decision or may help you to solidify it.
Is there someone you can reach out to who’s been in a similar situation? What do they think of the decision they made? Learning from their experience and hearing what they “wish they had known at the time” can be invaluable in your decision-making process.
Step Five: Make The Decision
At a certain point it is actually healthy to make a sure decision. There is only so much research that one can accomplish and you want to make sure you are not avoiding making a final decision out of fear or uncertainty. If only it were possible to see the future, but since that it not possible we can only make decisions with the knowledge that we have. Making the final decision can be a scary thought, but this final step allows you to make the next steps and move forward in your life, whatever your choices may be.
Step Six: Tell Someone
It is important after you have made your decision to tell those who are closest to you (i.e. a friend or family member). This way you can create a safe support system so that you can be held accountable for your decision and be supported and loved throughout the decision.
The best one you can tell about your choice is God. He has purposes and plans for your life. Pray and ask him for wisdom. Ask God to direct you to fulfil all the purposes that you were created for. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
After all is said and done, it is important to reflect on your choices and their outcomes. Each decision we make can also be a learning opportunity. Life comes with challenges and multiple decisions and sometimes they do not go as planned; however, it is through these life experiences that we can be tested and grow as a person.