How to Make Better Decisions

Being good at almost any job requires making good decisions. Indeed, we would all go a long way toward improving our lives overall if only we could make better decisions.

There is a myth that prevents most of us from doing anything to actually improve our decision making, however. That myth – that decision making is not a skill that can be learned or improved. You are either born with it, or you aren’t.

Wrong! Science has shown us again and again that there are a clear set of things you can do to become a better decision maker. What are they?

  1. Don’t rush. No matter what, we make better decisions when we take more time to make it. When presented with a decision, don’t make it right away unless you absolutely have to. Think it over and explore your options first.
  2. Get data. Most decisions you have to make are more science than art. Don’t just pick based on a hunch. Ask yourself how to get more information, and get it.
  3. Write out your options. The simple act of writing down all of your options will help your mind think through them more fully. It may even lead you to think of more options that you had not previously considered.
  4. Get feedback. Ask five other people what they would do in order to get more perspectives.
  5. Put yourself one year into the future. What would you hope you had done? What are the possible repercussions of this decision?
  6. Consider the worst case scenario. How bad could things get if you chose any of the options before you?
  7. Eliminate bias. Investigate your own frame of mind and reasoning. Are you being subjective? Are you letting other things cloud your judgment?
  8. Define the why. Write out why you are making the decision you are making. This helps you take ownership for the decision and helps to avoid the trap that bias presents.
  9. Don’t get stuck. At the end of the day, make the decision. Don’t allow the decision to make you because you get so overwhelmed that you don’t do anything.