How to make decisions

How to make decisions

How do leaders leverage themselves, especially in the area of making good decisions? Group input is highly valuable for the best decisions; however, overconfidence can cause a leader to go solo when he or she feels it suits them. This usually leads to the erosion of others’ confidence in the executive’s ability to lead.

There are two myths that distort the process:

Myth 1: Decisions should be made at the highest level.

Decisions made at the highest level are not always the best decisions for the organization. When this happens, problems are not solved—they are temporarily postponed. If this person is surrounded with like-minded thinkers, then the illusion of a good decision might lull them into a feeling of comfort with the situation.

Myth 2: Good decisions result from consensus.

One element that fosters good decision-making is to see an issue from multiple angles. Without this, there’s no divergence from accepted norms, no diversity of thought and no dissension.

This doesn’t automatically happen, nor is it our natural tendency. It must be intentional with built-in mechanisms that ensure more than one perspective. This fosters creative solutions.

Abraham Lincoln was the surprise winner of a viciously contested primary filled with personal attacks and attempted coup d’états. Lincoln won and then did something that surprised everyone. He put the very men he battled with on his cabinet. He called them his team of rivals. They provided a variety of perspectives and tension-filled solutions that avoided the yes-man groupthink that mark so many presidential cabinets.

Now, you might not put rivals on your team, but Lincoln’s point is well taken. There needs to be the right amount of creative friction to produce the creative tension needed to refine new ideas and challenge old assumptions.

A good leader will know the boiling point so that the tension doesn’t get overbearing or melt the team.

Here’s the real danger: The discussion in teams can shut down quickly, followed by an undue pressure to act on that decision without buy-in from those doing the work. The result is sluggish execution that hits another domino where leaders now feel a need to micromanage and mandate.

Organizations need to have their own decision-making process in place that uses their best asset—the people. In doing so, the executive is now truly leading everyone on the team.

As you lead your team, try these six guidelines for better decision-making:

1. Rethink old solutions.

It didn’t work before, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried again. Maybe with the current changes and some adaption it might work better.

2. Go slow in order to go fast.

Don’t be in a rush; it can prevent you from asking the right questions. There is a time for expediency, but quick decisions aren’t always the best. If you feel there is an urgency, ask what is influencing that. Why the rush? Are we able to allow more research and input?

“Be quick, but not in a hurry.” – John Wooden

3. Operate at the intersection of order and chaos.

There is no need for ironclad control. Loosen the reigns on the discussion. Don’t focus on power—focus on leadership that welcomes alternative solutions. Develop a culture that values multiple perspectives. Egos should be checked at the door, and dissenting views are not personal attacks.

4. Listen.

The best way to do this is by asking clarifying questions. Let them know you heard them, and take them deeper in their thinking.

5. Seek the right information, not more information.

The best solutions come by spending more time defining the problem. Clarifying the problem, goal or objective crystalizes the information search.

6. Make good enough decisions.

We seldom make the 100 percent correct decision. Sometimes a good decision now is better than a perfect decision later. This is essential to remember in today’s fast-paced world.

When it comes to decision-making, effective leaders know when to release control. They delegate and build confidence in others. They see their team’s successes as a way of leveraging their own leadership competencies.

How to make decisions

Many of us don’t realize how much social pressure and external forces impact our decision making. After years of blissful ignorance, I’ve learned shifts in my behavior that enable me to make my own decisions.

At one of the lowest points of my life years ago I made an EXTREMELY important observation about my behavior that’s shifted the way I’ve made decisions forever.

What was that observation?

Social pressure, external forces, and my environment dictated most of my decisions.

It seemed like every facet of my life was someone else’s decision:

  1. Career: I was working in corporate, “for the man,” in a job that felt safe, secure, and what I was “supposed to do,” even though I wasn’t fulfilled.
  2. Personal Life: My weekend plans were often someone else’s idea — I was just invited. I would justify drinking and doing drugs because people around me did them.
  3. Health: I ate shit food dictated by the situation or convenience. Often whatever people around me were eating or an advertisement would influence me too.

I’d been s leepwalking through my life, blissfully unaware of the impact these forces had on my choices.

I was complicit in saying “YES” to all of it.

I was a backseat driver to my own life.

It was a sobering discovery (literally).



With my newfound awareness I could CHANGE my PERCEPTION.



What I realized:

My perception was MY REALITY.

AND, if I could CHANGE my perception.


My life changed significantly.

I decided to start living intentionally, find my purpose, and prioritize my growth.

  1. When you go out on weekends, do you usually make the plans, or is it usually left to others?
  2. When you go to lunch with coworkers or friends do you decide the restaurant, or do they?
  3. What was the last decision you made today? How was it impacted by external forces (people, media, environment, etc)?

If you answer these questions and find that you’re allowing others to determine your schedule more than yourself, you might consider re-evaluating how you spend your time.

We only live a finite life, and you’re the only one who is responsible for your own.
Spend it intentionally on the things you want to be doing.

  1. Start saying NO more. It’s like a muscle, and one of the most valuable things you can work out. When you realize that an activity or plan is not aligned to your values, goals, and/or what you WANT, just don’t do it. Don’t feel like you have to justify your no to others.
  2. Create the experiences you want and work backwards.Figure out what you want to do each week and take back your weekends. What do you want to accomplish? Do that. And maybe more importantly determine what you DON’T want to do, especially if it’s become a pattern of negative behavior.
  3. Start living a more decisive life in all regards— pick the lunch spot, make the plans and invite others, be direct. It’s still ok to say yes to other’s plans, but be the MOST decisive person in your OWN life.

How do external forces dictate your decision making?

This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.

There are 19 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 14 testimonials and 89% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

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We make decisions every day; everything we say and do is the result of a decision, whether we make it consciously or not. For every choice, big or small, there’s no easy formula for making the right decision. The best you can do is to approach it from as many perspectives as possible and then choose a course of action that seems reasonable and balanced at that time. If you have a big decision to make, it can seem daunting. But there are some simple things you can do to make it less intimidating, such as identifying the worst case scenario, making a spreadsheet, and following your gut instinct. Keep reading to learn more about how to make decisions.

This article was co-authored by Julia Lyubchenko, MS, MA. Julia Lyubchenko is an Adult Counselor and a Hypnotherapist based in Los Angeles, California. Running a practice called Therapy Under Hypnosis, Julia has over eight years of counseling and therapy experience, specializing in resolving emotional and behavioral problems. She has a Certificate in Clinical Hypnosis from the Bosurgi Method School and is certified in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy. She earned an MA in Counseling Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy from Alliant International University and an MSc in Developmental and Child Psychology from Moscow State University.

There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 188,503 times.

Life is full of decisions, some small (what do you want in your coffee today?) and some big (what career path should you pursue?). But even though decision-making is something we all do every day, making good decisions isn’t always easy. The good news is that it’s actually possible to learn how to make better decisions that are more likely to have positive outcomes and help you accomplish your goals, and we’ve put together some tips to help you get started.

How to make decisions

Making a choice sometimes can be daunting, and fear can take over. When it comes to making effective decisions, you worry and wonder if you made a mistake or could happen instead of being proactive.

How do you make decisions that are effective and contribute toward the abundant life you’re creating? I have a few tips that will put your mind at ease and heart open to exciting possibilities.

Practice making small decisions quickly.

“Successful people make their decisions quickly and change their minds slowly. Failures make their decisions slowly and change their minds quickly.” -Andy Andrews

If you struggle with making decisions, begin to practice making small insignificant decisions quickly and confidently.

For instance, when someone asks where you’d like to eat, don’t say whatever is fine. Give yourself a minute to come up with an actual restaurant and answer with confidence.

If you can’t decide on chicken or steak, give yourself a minute or two to check in with your intuition, then order and trust yourself that you made the right decision. Are you going to remember not having that steak instead of chicken that one time when you’re 80? Probably not.

When you’re moving forward with decision-making in your life, the small everyday decisions help you tackle the more significant choices efficiently and faster.

When making BIG decisions, take time to weigh your options.

Start by making a list of positives and negatives. When you make a list of pros and cons, you’re proactive in making a decision.

You’re using positive energy towards something rather than expelling worry and fear. Once you’ve weighed out your options, make your best choice. You may not be sure what the outcome will be or if you made the right decision, but the ball is in motion, so it’s wasted energy worrying.

Keep your eyes forward, and don’t think for a second if you should’ve made a different decision. In your mind, you’re already where you want to be. Just take the next step in this present moment.

If you made the wrong decision, make a new one!

If you make a decision and realize you made a mistake, well, now you’re simply presented with another decision.

Here’s a little exercise you can do when you’re stuck.

It’s the 80 test!

The 80 test is asking yourself, “When I’m 80 years old, which decision will I be glad I made?”

For instance, let’s say you’re trying to decide on what you want for lunch and you can’t decide on soup or a sandwich, when you’re 80 you won’t remember and regret which one you choose.

Or if you’re trying to decide whether you should buy the house or renew your lease at your current apartment. When you’re 80, you may be living in the place you chose to purchase or maybe not! Regardless, which decision will your 80-year-old self be glad you made?

Always remember that the kingdom of God lives within you, and you have nothing to fear.

Your tomorrow is in God’s hands, so make today full of positivity and abundance.

If you’re interested in learning more about living an abundant life and legacy, check out my website and if you’d like to listen to my podcast, find me on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify, Pursuit Podcast .

An international leadership guru explains the differences between being short-term “smart” and big-picture “wise”.

Making choices is difficult and it is more challenging for chief executives as they must decide under constant pressure and constraints.

At times moves must be made without adequate information. CEOs are confronted with complex organizational issues and expected to formulate opinions based on their education, experience, expertise and intuition.

Better decision-making

A decision is a thought or idea put into action which is usually irrevocable. It takes energy, effort, money and time. There is no guarantee that it will be successful. Some people make quick choices, others make methodical ones and some don’t make any decisions at all.

Draw on paper whatever ideas pop up to create various permutations, connect the dots between thoughts that don’t appear to have anything in common and link the issue with the dots while visualizing the possibility of creating alternatives.

Explore scenarios to achieve desired outcomes. Daydream and change your surroundings. Identify the place and space where your mind will be free to create new ideas. Think differently to address the issue. Convert every threat into an opportunity.
Related: 6 Key Things to Consider When Bringing a Product to Market

A blueprint to being bold

Prepare Plan A, B, C, D and so on.

Convince yourself as to which decision is most feasible. Never regret your move because you have made if based on the best information at a particular point in time.

Consult more people to acquire more ideas. Don’t get into the paralysis of analysis or excessively brood over the problem. Once convinced of your choice, make a call without any procrastination.

Avoid making decisions in anger and sleep over the problem. When you go to bed by thinking about the issue, it goes to your subconscious mind, which automatically searches for solutions. When ideas don’t get bolder within your brain, take a break and allow your subconscious self to search for suitable alternatives.

Think of repercussions before implementing your idea. Delay the decision when there is a possibility of more damage to others. Look at the underlying reasons, factors and forces that enable you to arrive at the right solution.
Related: Are You Coming Across as Authentic?

Simple CEO strategies

Conventional decision-making is analyzing alternatives, making choices among available options and ultimately selecting a course of action.

In contrast, unconventional thinking involves a series of iterative steps individuals take to generate insights, reframe their challenges, develop new ideas and determine a course of action in pursuit of new sources of value while constantly being aware of the ever-changing roles between bosses and employees.

To that end, a poll on behalf of Motivosity showed that 65% of office workers surveyed think they could do their job more effectively if they had a better boss while 66% admitted the pandemic has negatively affected their relationship with higher ups to the point where 52% revealed they’re actively looking for a new role because of their managers.

Here are some final tools to make smarter decisions while avoiding the above stats.

1) Avoid preconceived notions and biases.

2) Decide the right stakeholders to be involved in the decision-making process and use appropriate decision-making tools that fit the situation.

3) Brainstorm heavily to create the best fixes while understanding the pros and cons of each solution.

Acquire knowledge, skills and abilities to make your decisions under uncertainty and constraints. In this age of disruption, distraction and disturbance you must rely on your intuition and have the guts to make your decisions with a weighted “wisely” rather than a seemingly-efficient “smartly”.
Related: This Is the Secret Weapon That No Competitor Can Take From You

Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, the author of the bestselling book "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," and the host of The Verywell Mind Podcast.

Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.

Knowing how to make good decisions—like what to wear to a job interview or how to invest your money—could be the key to living your best life. And being able to make those decisions in a timely manner and feeling confident about your decision-making skills could save you a lot of time and hassle.

Fortunately, everyone can take steps to become better decision-makers. If you want to become a better decision-maker, incorporate these nine daily habits into your life.

Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares a tip that can help you make better decisions.

Take Note of Your Overconfidence

How to make decisions

Compassionate Eye Foundation / Getty Images

Overconfidence can easily make your judgment go awry.   Studies consistently show people tend to overestimate their performance as well as the accuracy of their knowledge.

Perhaps you are 90% sure you know where the office is that you’re visiting. Or maybe you’re 80% certain you can convince your boss to give you a promotion. If you're overconfident about those things, your plans are likely to go awry.

It’s especially important to consider your confidence level in terms of time management. Most people overestimate how much they can accomplish in a certain period of time. Do you think it will only take you one hour to finish that report? Do you predict you’ll be able to pay your online bills in 30 minutes? You might find you’re overconfident in your predictions.

Take time every day to estimate the likelihood that you’ll be successful. Then at the end of the day, review your estimates. Were you as accurate as you thought?

Good decision-makers recognize areas in their lives where overconfidence could be a problem. Then they adjust their thinking and their behavior accordingly.

Identify the Risks You Take

Familiarity breeds comfort. And there’s a good chance you make some poor decisions simply because you’ve grown accustomed to your habits and you don’t think about the danger you’re in or the harm you’re causing.

For example, you might speed on your way to work every day. Each time you arrive safely without a speeding ticket, you become a little more comfortable with driving fast. But clearly, you’re jeopardizing your safety and taking a legal risk.

Or maybe you eat fast food for lunch every day. Since you don’t suffer any immediate signs of ill health, you might not see it as a problem. But over time, you may gain weight or experience other health issues as a consequence.

Identify habits that have become commonplace. These are things that require little thought on your part because they’re automatic. Then take some time to evaluate which of them might be harmful or unhealthy, and create a plan to develop healthier daily habits.

How to make decisions

Most people don’t know the profound effects of making life decisions. Often times, we go through life oblivious to what thoughts we are thinking and what actions we are taking. Every single decision we make in our days shapes our current reality. It shapes who we are as a person because we habitually follow through with the decisions we make without even realizing it.

If you’re unhappy with the results in your life right now, making the effort to changing your decisions starting today will be the key to creating the person you want to be and the life you want to have in the future.

If you want to get unstuck from where you are, make use of the 3-Step Guide To Break Free And Design the Life You Want. It’s a free guide that will guide you to break free from your limits and redesign a life that you truly want. You can grab your free guide here.

Now, let’s talk about the 7 ways you can go about making life changing decisions.

1. Realize the Power of Decision Making

Before you start making a decision, you have to understand what a decision does.

Any decision that you make causes a chain of events to happen. When you decide to pick up a cigarette to smoke it, that decision might result in you picking up another one later on to get that same high feeling. After a day, you may have gone through a pack without knowing it. But if you decide not to smoke that first cigarette and make a decision every five minutes to focus your attention somewhere else when you get that craving, after doing this for a week, your cravings will eventually subside and you will become smoke-free.

But it comes down to making that very first decision of deciding whether or not to pick up that cigarette.

2. Go with Your Gut

Often times, we take too much time to make a decision because we’re afraid of what’s going to happen. As a result of this, we go through things like careful planning, deep analysis, and pros and cons before deciding. This is a very time consuming process.

Instead, learn to trust your gut instinct. For the most part, your first instinct is usually the one that is correct or the one that you truly wanted to go with.

Even if you end up making a mistake, going with your gut still makes you a more confident decision maker compared to someone who takes all day to decide.

3. Carry Your Decision Out

When you make a decision, act on it. Commit to making a real decision.

What’s a real decision? It’s when you decide on something, and that decision is carried out through action. It’s pointless to make a decision and have it played out in your head, but not doing anything about it. That’s the same as not making a decision at all.

If you want to make real changes in life, you have to make it a habit to apply action with your decision until it’s completed. By going through this so many times, you will feel more confident with accomplishing the next decision that you have in mind.

4. Tell Others About Your Decisions

There’s something about telling other people what we’re going to do that makes us follow through.

For example, for the longest time, I’ve been trying to become an early riser. Whenever I tried to use my own willpower, waking up early without falling back asleep felt impossible. So what I did was I went to a forum and made the decision to tell people that I would wake up at 6 AM and stay up. Within two days, I was able to accomplish doing this because I felt a moral obligation to follow through with my words even though I failed the first time.

Did people care? Probably not, but just the fact that there might be someone else out there seeing if you’re telling the truth will give you enough motivation to following through with your decision.

5. Learn from Your Past Decisions

Even after I failed to follow through my decision the first time when I told people I was going to wake up early and stay up, I didn’t give up. I basically asked myself, “What can I do this time to make it work tomorrow?”

The truth is, you are going to mess up at times when it comes to making decisions. Instead of beating yourself up over it, learn something from it.

Ask yourself, what was good about the decision I made? What was bad about it? What can I learn from it so I can make a better decision next time?

Remember, don’t put so much emphasis focusing on short term effects; instead focus on the long term effects.

6. Maintain a Flexible Approach

I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but making a decision doesn’t mean that you can’t be open to other options.

For example, let’s say you made the decision to lose ten pounds by next month through cardio. If something comes up, you don’t have to just do cardio. You can be open to losing weight through different methods of dieting as long as it helps you reach your goal in the end.

Don’t be stubborn to seek out only one way of making a decision. Embrace any new knowledge that brings you closer to accomplishing your initial decision.

7. Have Fun Making Decisions

Finally, enjoy the process. I know decision-making might not be the most fun thing world to do, but when you do it often, it becomes a game of opportunity.

You’ll learn a lot about yourself on the way, you’ll feel and become a lot more confident when you’re with yourself and around others, and making decisions will just become a lot easier after you do it so often that you won’t even think about it.

Anything you decide to do from this point on can have a profound effect later on. Opportunities are always waiting for you. Examine the decisions that you currently have in the day.

Are there any that can be changed to improve your life in some way? Are there any decisions that you can make today that can create a better tomorrow?

Final Thoughts

Some decisions in life are harder to make, but with these 7 pieces of advice, you can trust yourself more even when you’re making some of the most important decisions.

Making a decision is the only way to move forward. So remember, any decision is better than none at all.

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