Self-Helpapedia

Powerful techniques to optimize your emotions, beliefs, and behaviors

Making Decisions

Decisions ask us to make choices and be responsible for them. It's important to know that the more freedom of choice we have, the better able we are to handle challenges that come our way.

Throughout our daily lives, we make choices. If we avoid choosing, we actually make a choice, yet fail to take responsibility for it. When we miss making choices, we often become victims of unhelpful beliefs and may lose touch our feelings and behavior. When we decide to make choices we feel more alive.

If we do not make choices, we cannot have our wants met or have rewarding and vitally absorbing lives. To live fully asks for decisions. To put off decisions is to wait for something to happen, rather than move our lives along in the direction we want to go. Goals and visions get locked in the closet.

We may act indecisively owing to the following reasons:


Avoiding conflict.
Avoiding what better be done.
Demanding a perfect choice or seeing all choices as equal.
We are used to others deciding for us. We've never learned decision making skills.
We made an impulsive choice based on anxiety or habit.
We must kneejerk oppose authority.
Fearing commitment.
We believe we must keep all options alive.

 

Tips on Decisions

Watch out for the myth of the "bad" decision. You can learn from so-called failures (undesirable feedback or learning experiences). This lesson can help you in the future. Mistakes and unwanted results are very instructive. You can learn to accept yourself in a crisis and how to solve a problem.

Consider the positive and negative factors involved in your decisions. You may want to utilize a typical pro & con sheet with weighted scores for each listing on your pro & con sheet. Like you're purchasing a car and you total up the pros and cons: dented fender (minus 2 points), leopard skin dashboard (plus 3 points).

Unless the situation calls for a snap intuitive decision (you'll have to decide that), give yourself time to think through important decisions and weigh all the key factors.

Few decisions really lead to disasters; usually the worst that can happen is an inconvenience or a learning experience.

Expect some excitement if you're making changes or taking larger risks.

In making a simple decision:

Consider your options.
Examine the long-term benefits and potential negative consequences involved with each option.
Recognize what can be changed.
Select the best option (If better options appear even, flip a coin).
Commit to a course of action and do it.
You can accept yourself even after a so-called bad decision.


Limit your second guessing. Second guessing is not accepting the reality of what happened after you decided. It isn't recognizing what you thought or felt prior to the decision. Second guessing can be a waste of energy. You made the choice you did, and you really didn’t know better at that time.

If you are ambivalent about your decision, it may be your way of dealing with the unknown that you may view as negative. What do you believe about the future?

Take action on your decision. Follow the Nike dictum: "Do it!"

When you decide to take a risk, you get better at the process and learn what happens when you make leaps. Confidence grows with action.

Like problems, decisions don't go away. An ostrich approach to decision making does not work. Decisions better be faced if you want long-term enjoyment.

Know that difficulties will come after many decisions. Solutions exist for those difficulties.

We have no guarantees or certainty of either success or failure. The law of probability rules. We choose actions to further the probability of our decision's success. We can choose to accept ourselves and treat ourselves in a loving and caring manner in either feast or famine.

In making decisions it is wise to know we have much control over our behavior, thoughts, and emotions and a very limited amount of control over people.

Choice means we have two or more ways of voluntarily responding.

Avoid going back and forth on your decisions. Commit yourself to your decisions: no “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts”. Anxiety often departs with a direct dose of experience. Going back and forth can block you from going ahead. A lack of commitment to well-considered decisions.

No perfect decision exists. You almost always have to give something up.

Do not let anxiety make your decision. Anxiety is often spawned by unhelpful and distorted beliefs.

If you make decisions via intuition, check out what you're intuition is telling you. Make sure it's real intuition and not feelings backed by distorted thinking.

"What if" questions or worry can be a defense against risk and change.

Watch out for the idea: "Something better might drop into my cup."

Get feedback from others who have made similar decisions. Make sure these persons are clear thinkers and have a history of successful goals and decisions.

Know that assistance is out there for the decision making process. Experienced individuals. Libraries. Websites.

How do your choices measure up to your personal values and priorities?

If you wait for problems to solve themselves, they generally will, but 9 times out of 10 you won't enjoy the solution.

From time to time we all make errors in our decisions. As humans we simply do not know enough, but we can learn and profit from our mistakes.

The Pro and Con Sheet

The pro & con sheet is a tool to help us arrive at a decision. Simply draw a vertical line down the center of a blank sheet of paper and label one side "pro" and the other side "con".  Instructions:

1. Relax and generate a list of possible choices.


2. Ask these vital questions about your choices:


Would this choice help me survive and lead to a healthy life?
Would this choice rapidly advance my short-term and long-term goals?
Would this choice keep me out of significant conflict with other folks?
 Would this choice give me the sort of feelings I would desire?


Note: Use only the choices that reasonably meet your values. Any choice endangering your health better be tossed.


3. Write your possible choices at the top of the pro & con sheet.


4. Jot down a list of pro factors, factors that work for the choice, on one side of the page and then list the con factors, factors that work against the choice, on the opposite side of the page.


5. Give each pro & con item a number value: (1) Unimportant. (2) Somewhat important. (3) Important. (4) Very important.


6. Total the number values of the pros, and then total the number values of the cons.


7. Generate a pro & con sheet for any other possible choices.


8. After examining the pro & con scores from each choice, pick the choice that gives you the highest pro score after the con scores have been subtracted.

Take care, Steve

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