Life is a bundle of decisions, from something as small as what to wear to work to more complicated choices like looking for a house to buy or a school.
For others, it is thinking about children, family, or relationships. Regardless of how big or small the choice is, there will be consequences that can either be positive or negative.
Some choices we make are instant, like what to have for breakfast, what pair of socks to wear, or which hairstyle to go with.
For others, a lot more effort, logical thinking, and strategic planning are necessary.
There are times when a lot is at stake, and one wrong choice can have terrible consequences. In such situations, it can get stressful, and knowing how to make sound decisions can help.
Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed, anxious, confused, pressured, or mentally exhausted when deciding on something important; it is a very natural response.
However, specific strategies can help lower anxiety and ensure better decision-making. Some such tips are discussed below:
Watch out for overconfidence
While it is essential to have faith in yourself, overconfidence can be a terrible trait if it affects your decision-making. It can hinder judgment and lead to careless mistakes and ignorance.
To make sound decisions, don’t overestimate your knowledge or ability; be open to the opinion of others, take criticism, be flexible, and consider alternatives as well.
What might look like the perfect choice to you might not be right in the long run.
For instance, overconfidence in your ability to leave substance use whenever you wish to can escalate and lead to addiction. Also, in the recovery stage, such overconfidence can lead to relapse.
If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, centers like the Palm Beach Institute can help.
Take time to define the problem
If you rush into the decision-making process without understanding the problem completely, the solution is unlikely to help. First, outline exactly what issues or hurdles you expect, what factors should be considered, and what elements would influence your choice.
For instance, if you are looking to shift abroad, what budget do you have? What type of climate do you want? What kind of job would you look for?
If you have children, which schools or universities can they opt for in the new country?
Consider every minute detail of the problem and note it down; this way, you can avoid regrets.
Think ahead of time
The long-term consequences can cause immense regrets, while everyone considers the short-term results when making a choice. Immature decision makers fail to look ahead of time and ignore the potential long-term disadvantages or benefits.
For some decisions, the short-term sacrifice might seem minor to you, but it may have a lasting negative impact on you or others around you.
On the other hand, we may sometimes have to ignore or accept the short-term cost in favor of long-term benefits. For instance, changing your child’s school might cause temporary adjustment problems but may have many long-term advantages.
When making a choice, think about whether you will still be confident in your decision a week, month, or even year after.
Long-term thinkers can envision the future in addition to thinking in the present. Entrepreneurs, for instance, always think long-term and are willing to bear temporary setbacks if the decision promises long-term success.
List down the options
Begin by clearly listing down the choices you have; don’t forget to include any alternatives that don’t fit. If one of your options is not to take any action, include that as well.
Even if a matter involves not making any decision regarding it, include that as well. This is a good idea because it gets one thing out of the way so that it is no longer a distraction. Unmade decisions can interfere and cause stress.
Listing down the options makes things more organized. To identify the choices, you might have to conduct some research.
If, for example, you have to select a new school for your child, you would have to look up various institutes in your vicinity and gather information about them.
Be aware of bias and belief perseverance
Personal biases are difficult to identify and can significantly impact your decisions. Choices based on such preferences are usually not as effective as an objective decision.
Identifying your own bias is hard, so you can ask a trusted friend to point out what biases they think you hold. Then look for these biases in your decision.
Also, make a conscious effort to avoid belief perseverance by considering the opposites. Belief perseverance is the phenomenon whereby you tend to stick to the initial belief or decision even after you have gotten new contradictory information
Avoid clinging to your personal belief because it is more comfortable; step out of your comfort zone and consider the opposite.
For instance, you might have an ingrained stereotype that African Americans are physically strong and aggressive, so you might only look for such a person as a security guard.
Look out for such attitudes and consider the opposite possibility as well.
Evaluate the pros and cons
Every choice you have listed will have some advantages and some drawbacks. Make sure to list them for each option you have and then weigh them to reach the best decision.
To do so, look at the problem from various angles. To identify, you would require careful consideration.
Your final decision should be to select the option with the most pros and the minor cons.
Decision-making is not always challenging, but some choices can have long-term or life-altering impacts on you or your loved ones.
For such consequential decisions, deal with the problem carefully. Look out for overconfidence, define the problem clearly, look ahead, note down the options and their pros and cons, and avoid bias.