Of all the valuable life skills a person can develop, the ability to make wise decisions ranks at the very top. No other skill has such a dramatic impact on our quality of life! And yet, society seems to be plagued with bad decision makers.
Have you ever been amazed by the abundance of shortsightedness in the realm of decision making? Have you ever wondered why such an important life skill presents such a formidable challenge to so many? Have you struggled with this challenge personally?
Life skills must be learned
In order for us to learn a skill, there must be someone qualified to teach it. This means that our ability to make decisions will be strongly affected by the person we learned that ability from. If our parents lacked good decision making skills, it puts us at a distinct disadvantage.
To compound the problem, this important skill is not taught in schools. Young children are asked to make decisions without being given the skills to do so. The results of this educational blunder are all too obvious. Thankfully, we can all improve our decision making ability with the application of a few basic principles.
Many things influence the decision making process
One of the reasons people struggle with the decision making process is that there are so many things to consider. We have our personal wants, financial impact, the effect on our friends and family members, and on and on. This alone can be overwhelming.
Then there is the pressure from outside influences. Advertisers work very hard to influence our every decision in their favor. My friend Stephen Mills wrote a fascinating article about this called Irrational Decisions – Relativity. I highly recommend reading it. And last but not least, there are always the opinions of well meaning friends and acquaintances.
Are you getting more confused?
Once we really look at all of the different aspects of making a decision, we can see why so many struggle with this skill. In fact, the seeming complexity of the process can easily lead to procrastination and indecision. If you find yourself in this position, there’s a wonderful article by Steve Aitchison called Overcoming Procrastination.
Of course, the purpose of this article is to simplify the decision making process, not complicate it. So, now that we’ve examined some of the reasons why decision making can seem so complicated, let’s simplify the daylights out of it.
The real basis of sound decision making
The most important key to making wise decisions is CONSEQUENCES! Every single decision you have ever made, or will ever make, has consequences. Once we learn to evaluate our decisions based on consequences, all the other considerations fall neatly into place. It’s that simple.
Even your internal sense of right and wrong will be satisfied if you apply this simple process: Follow your decisions to their logical conclusion BEFORE you make them. If I do this, what will be the likely result? If I choose this course, what are the consequences going to be? Make your decision based solely on the consequences and you will be amazed at the way it changes your life.
Our life is the expression of our decisions and indecisions
The life you are leading today is the result of past decisions and indecisions. If you don’t like your current situation, change the way you make decisions. Many people make decisions based on instant gratification with no regard for long term consequences. This is what I call the Kamikaze approach to life. It’s the opposite of wisdom.
Others blame their situation, rather than accepting responsibility. My friend Sid Savara addressed this nicely in an article called Personal Development Roadblocks – “The Situation.” Then there are those who postpone making decisions because they are waiting for the right circumstances. If you have this tendency, please read Stop Waiting For Your Life To Be A Fairy Tale by Jeff Nickles.
Be wise, don’t over complicate decision making
Regardless of your past decision making abilities, you can quickly become a wise decision maker. All you need to do is think before you decide. Before you make any decision, follow it down the long hallway of consequences. This simple practice will help you avoid untold pain and regret.
Soon, others will marvel at your wisdom, as your life remodels itself around the beneficial consequences of your wise decisions.
How do you go approach the decision making process?
What consequences have you experienced?
The lines are open!