When you are making decisions, what do you base them on? Do you ever find yourself searching for information but never finding the answers you really need?
Have you ever wondered how the questions you ask affect the decisions you make?
Sometimes it seems like the moment you go looking for meaningful answers to important questions so you can make a wise decision, things begin to get confusing. Either there is not enough information available, or there are so many opinions that you really don’t know who to believe.
Are we asking the right questions?
Making decisions is a big part of life, and learning to ask the right questions is among the top ten life skills we should learn. We base most of our decisions in life on the answers we receive. This is because thinking people like to make informed choices. We like to weigh the information we gather so we can choose the best option.
When we look around, it’s pretty obvious that not everyone bothers with this process. In fact, how many times have you been amazed by other peoples decisions? Have you ever said: “I don’t get it, what were they thinking”? Well, we all have our own criteria, and making wise decisions is a personal responsibility.
The point is, without the right information we simply can’t make wise decisions. And if we are not asking the right questions we won’t have the information we need.
Areas where confusion is the norm
There are certain areas in life where getting truly helpful information can pose a real challenge. As a result, making good decisions in these areas can be extremely difficult. For example, how about finding reliable diet information. How many diets are there? How different are they from each other? How are you supposed to decide which one is best for you? This kind of confusion really impedes the decision making process.
How about exercise? Should you focus on cardiovascular or muscle building exercises? How many times a week? How long should you workout, or how far should you run? Can too much be harmful? Which is better, high-intensity or low intensity? You see what I mean; too many opinions only create more confusion.
These are just two areas where our decision making process can feel challenged. In this age of information overload, we can have a similar experience in almost any endeavor. This only emphasizes the need to hone our decision making skills.
Skillful questions and the decision making process
You might feel that something as important as making wise decisions should have been addressed in school. Well, it wasn’t and questioning that would just be an exercise in futility. Even with all the information on the internet at your finger tips, making wise decisions still comes with knowing where to look for answers. Like so many other important life skills, it’s up to each of us to learn the art of making wise decisions and asking skillful questions.
Because the questions we ask have such a strong influence on the decisions we make, it’s an area that deserves some special attention. Over the years I have discovered several helpful guidelines for cutting through the confusion when asking questions and I’d like to share a few of them with you. Hopefully you will find them useful.
5 keys to finding better answers
1) Don’t ask circular questions. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That’s a question that will just lead you around in circles. Even if you could answer it, the answer has no relevance. It’s a good example of a worthless question. To find meaningful answers you need to ask meaningful questions that are 100% relevant.
2) Identify your objective. The first thing you need to decide when looking for answers is what your true objective really is. What do you actually want to know? If we don’t know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish, things can get confusing really fast. So spend some time getting a clear idea of what your objective is before you go any further.
3) Scan the field. If you quickly survey all the information available under a broad topic, certain things will stand out. Make a list of the ones that seem to apply to your objective. If you’re into online research, one of the ways to do this is with the public Google search. You can type in a broad topic, and they will usually give you a list of related subtopics.
4) Reevaluate your objective. Now that you know what’s out there try to clarify your objective. This is really just a process of elimination. Narrow your list to things that seem to have specific application to your clearly defined objective. This part of the process will add even more clarity to your objective.
5) Choose reliable sources. When you’re looking for answers to important questions the reliability of your source should be a primary concern. This is especially true when you’re dealing with topics that are partially reliant on someone’s discernment, experience, and opinion. Try to identify sources that you feel you can trust. If you’re looking for marriage advice, don’t ask someone who’s been divorced several times.
Let experience be your guide
There is only so much information gathering you can do, and then it’s time to make a decision. At some point you need to make application of the answers you have formulated. In the long run, only experience will make it clear how good your decisions really are.
Sometimes the answers we get are like shining beacons that guide us to making excellent decisions. Other times they are like guard rails that keep us from running off the road of our intended path. Either way, the value of the answers we find will be in direct proportion to our ability to ask the right questions from the most reliable sources.
The quality of your life today is a reflection of the decisions you have already made. The quality of your life tomorrow will depend on the decisions you make today. That means you have an amazing amount of control over your future. How will you decide to use it?
How do you find the answers you’re seeking?
Who do you look to as a reliable source?
How much thought do you put into making decisions?
The lines are open!
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