Did you know that we make an average of 35,000 decisions every day? Some decisions are small and inconsequential, like thinking about what to eat for lunch. While others are major and life-changing. Be it a commitment to a house, a career switch, a $500 bag or being peer pressured to smoke in your early ages, we all have to make choices in life. But are all the choices that we make always good? Personally, I have made some poor decisions in my life, but I have grown to accept and learn from it. After all, we are humans and bound to make poor decisions sometimes. So how can we maximize our decision-making to reduce the negative repercussions? Consider these five points before you make a decision.
Weigh The Costs And Benefits
Do you find yourself unable to make a decision? Have you spent days or weeks thinking about the outcomes of possible decisions, yet struggle to come to a conclusion? Many of us are faced with a decision-making paralysis whenever we have to make major decisions. Even I struggle to make decisions at times! If it is an important decision, conduct a cost-benefit analysis by listing all the possible costs and benefits of making a particular decision. Go a step further by assigning points to each cost or benefit and tabulate the results (I usually rate them on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the one with the most costs or benefits). Listing the costs and benefits will force you to understand your situation and objectives. This will give you a clearer picture before you make your choice.
Determine Who Is Involved
Imagine: You have a stable and well-paying job with lots of close friends around your neighbourhood. You are content with the way things are. Now, what if your partner suddenly tells you that they have accepted a job in another country and you would have to relocate. Wouldn’t you feel extremely upset by this sudden decision? Most of the time, major decisions also impact the people around us. Unilaterally making a choice without consulting them could affect their lives in more ways than we can imagine. Before you make a choice, understand how it can potentially impact your loved ones and consult them. Perhaps, they could give you a fresh perspective or an unbiased opinion on your decision.
Take A Long Term Perspective
Stop right there if you are thinking of upgrading to a bigger house or buying a new car! Poor decisions are often made when we act on short term pleasures at the expense of long term pains. This is especially important when you are making big purchases that could greatly reduce your spending power. Remember to ask these questions when you are planning to buy a bigger house. How will this affect me in the next 5 to 10 years? What percentage of my assets will go to this purchase? Am I getting this out of necessity or do I want it for my ego? Everything comes with an opportunity cost and we can’t have the best of both worlds. So if you are prepared and financially able to make some sacrifices for a bigger house or a new car, then go for it!
Consider Possible Alternatives
Your life is not set in stone, neither is it black or white. We often think that making decisions is either choosing this or that, but what if you are faced with 2 unfavourable options? Rather than trying to choose the lesser of the evil, why not reframe your mind? You are in control of your own destiny and you should not settle for unfavourable options that could greatly affect your life. Try to find a compromise or in between solution for this. Consult your loved ones or involved parties. No doubt, alternatives would have their own costs and benefits, but the more options you explore, the better the decisions you make. Don’t forget to weigh the costs and benefits before making your final decision.
Know Your Values
Do you find yourself regretting the decisions you have made? Are you unhappy with your life choices? When I was younger, I often wished that I had made better choices in life. In retrospect, I realised that the reason why I regretted my decisions was because my decisions were in conflict with my core values or I did not understand the situation well enough before making a choice. Choices are often a reflection of your values and most of the time, your decisions will be centred around what you value. It is fine if you are still trying to figure out your values, but when making a decision, understand the motivation behind the choice you make and how it will benefit you.
What are some of the decisions you have made recently and how has it panned out for you? Have you considered these 5 points before making a decision? If no, start thinking of it for your next choice in life. If yes, good for you! How have these considerations helped you in decision-making? It is understandable that we are all afraid of making the ‘wrong’ choice (even I feel that way too!), but the choice that you don’t make will eventually be chosen for you. So take small steps daily and start taking control over your life!