Decision-Making: Five Important Steps to Achieve Desired Outcomes

Do you find it challenging to make a decision? Are there systematic ways that could help you decide on critical matters at some point in your life? This article is for you. Find out and apply the five decision-making steps that will help you reach your goals and aspirations in life.

Many people have difficulty making up their minds on some issues, particularly those that have long-term consequences. The decision-making process is difficult, especially if the situation is critical or life-changing. Some people decide impulsively without considering the outcomes that may be unfavorable to them. In some cases, the result may be irreversible, cause a lot of stress, disastrous, or even life-threatening.

The Need for Information in the Decision-Making Process

Almost always, bad decision-making occurs when the issue is not presented in a form that allows clear thinking and lacks viable options. There is a lack of information on some matters that complicate the decision-making challenge. Also, decision-making is tricky when it involves deciding an environment of threat, urgency, and uncertainty.

Some people postpone their decisions due to their inability to weigh up things accordingly as they appear. In effect, they are unknowingly making default decisions or decisions unconsciously arising out of mere procrastination. On the other hand, this can also be an excellent strategy to gather more information for better decision-making outcomes. According to Smith, people who take time to decide are intelligent decision-makers.

Nevertheless, there are ways to systematically make a decision that will make the most of the opportunities given to you at your disposal. I enumerate the five easy-to-follow decision-making tips in the next section.

5 Easy to Follow Decision-Making Tips

Here are easy to follow tips on decision making that will give you a clearer idea of which choice is best and will prevent unnecessary regrets:

Step 1 Be specific on the decision-making situation

Committing to a partner in life is one of the crucial decision-making situations.

Write the specific decision that you would like to take. Unless the decision situation is not expressed clearly, making a decision is difficult.

Many people cannot decide because they cannot define their problem situation. It will do you no good to decide on something unclear to you. Making decisions requires giving up an opportunity that may never come your way again.

It is also best to reflect on the reasons why you want to make a change to the status quo. Write everything down: the circumstances that lead you to reach that point where you need to decide. These things also have something to do with your goals and values in life.

For example, you may be finding your job no longer challenging as it used to be. Or perhaps, you are getting nowhere in your income. You might want to find another job or work on something else to improve your finances. You intend to resign from your current work.

Example Statement

Decision Consideration: I want to resign from work as I no longer find it challenging. Shall I do it?

Step 2 Consider the advantages and disadvantages of your decision

List all the advantages and disadvantages of your decision; that is, to resign from your current job. Exhaust all possibilities as much as possible.

In our example, we may write the advantages and disadvantages of resigning from your current job as follows:

Advantages of Resignation

  • I get the opportunity to find another, better paying job
  • I get rid of a stressful job
  • I may be able to discover and harness my true potential in other fields

Disadvantages of Resignation

  • I may not be able to find another job right away
  • I am leaving a stable job that will keep me employed as long as I work
  • I have a good working relationship with my peers and boss and I will lose that favorable working environment

Step 3 Rate each advantage or disadvantage

Rate the advantages and disadvantages using a scale of importance from 1 to 10, 10 being most important. For example, if you find that getting rid of your present job is very important because it seriously affects your health, you can give that disadvantage 10 points.

Step 4 Add all ratings

Add all the points under the Advantages and the Disadvantages.

Step 5 Compare the sum of ratings

If the points under Advantages are higher than the Disadvantages, you should proceed with your decision. Otherwise, don’t proceed with it.

Applying these decision-making steps will be best done in the morning until early afternoon (8 am to 1 pm) because your mind is still free of clutter compared to afternoons where many things have already occupied your mind that may cloud your judgment.

Making Hard Choices When the Alternatives are “Equal”

There are times that you find the alternatives almost equal in importance or magnitude. It will not be easy to make a decision as this will require further reflection on your part. It is at this point that you do not just rely on giving practical reasons for your choice. There is a need for you to re-examine your priorities, the values that you hold dear, and what will really make you happy as part of the decision-making process.

Dr. Chang in Ted Talk expounds on this decision-making situation and gives handy insights that you can apply in your life. See the video below on making hard choices when confronted with choices that appear to be equally weighted where you cannot easily disregard one alternative to the other one.

Dr. Chang gives tips on how to decide when faced with hard choices.

Personal Philosophy and Values in Life Matter in Decision-Making

Whatever your decision will be on issues that confront you, it will always be good practice to make a conscious decision. Don’t just let things go through without effort on your part. If you do, I call the outcome of that situation the Default Outcome which may not be the outcome you would want. You are a human being who is rational, not a leaf that flows along a river carried by a current to a random location.

Be courageous enough to stand on your choice whatever others say about it. Each one is unique. Others cannot define what will make you happy. Whatever personal goal and personal philosophy you have in life determines who you are, not anybody else.

Make a decision, go for it, and don’t look back. Yours will be a life of great satisfaction and purpose-driven life.

© P. A. Regoniel 19 May 2021