The Key to Making Wise Decisions

wise decisions

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 those who consistently make bad decisions.

Have you ever been amazed by the abundance of shortsightedness when it comes to making decisions? 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?

Making wise decisions is a life skill

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 ability to make decisions with the application of a few basic principles.

What influence the process of making decisions? 

One of the reasons people struggle when it comes to  making decisions is that there are so many things to consider. We have our personal wants, financial impact, the effect on our friends and family, and so on. This alone can be overwhelming.

Then there’s the pressure from outside influences. For example, advertisers work very hard and use every psychological trick in the book to influence our decisions in their favor.

Are you getting more confused?

Once we really look at all of the different aspects of making decisions, we can see why so many struggle with this life skill. In fact, the seeming complexity of the process can easily lead to procrastination and indecision.

Of course, the purpose of this article is to simplify the process of making decisions. 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 for making better decisions

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. Ask simple questions like: If I do this, what will be the likely result? If I choose this course, what are the consequences going to be? Make your decisions 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 indecision

The life you are leading today is the result of past decisions and indecision. 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. In this case, their actions are being hindered by their excuses. Then there are those who postpone making decisions because they are waiting for the right circumstances. In reality, that is just one aspect of an avoidance technique we call procrastination.

Be wise, when making decisions don’t over complicate it

Regardless of the way you’ve made decisions in the past, you can start making wise decisions now. All you need to do is think before you decide. Before you make any decision, always start by considering the 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.

When making  decisions, what’s your approach?
Are you happy with the consequences of your decisions?
The lines are open!

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  1. Kikolani October 27, 2009 Reply

    I’m usually the worst at decision making, simply because I’m afraid I’ll make a bad choice. Something as simple as choosing the wrong restaurant makes me a bit nervous, and it comes from bad decisions made in the past leading to awful outcomes. But overall, I’m working on becoming more confident in choosing the right thing based on the information I have at the time, and not punishing myself for something going wrong that I couldn’t have prevented.

    ~ Kristi

    • Jonathan October 27, 2009 Reply

      Hi Kristi, I would have guessed you to be a confident decision maker. Your work is so concise that you give the impression of total self-confidence. Really appreciate you stopping by, I know how busy you are.

  2. Steven Aitchison October 27, 2009 Reply

    I usually make quick decisions, hold my hands up and let it go, whatever happens will happen and if I make a mistake then I can learn to make a better decision next time.

    Great read Jonathan and thank you very much for the link. Still loving what you are doing here.

    • Jonathan October 27, 2009 Reply

      Hi Steve, it must be working because you are making things happen. With experience, I think we develop a sense for making wise decisions in certain areas based on instinct. Once we have the confidence to act quickly, it can really simplify things. And we can always evaluate and adjust as we go.

      • Steven Aitchison October 28, 2009 Reply

        Hi Jonathan, I think you are absolutely right. I had to make a lot of quick decisions that were totally wrong but again I hold my hands up, take responsibility and learn. I am so glad I have made so many mistakes, it’s a brilliant feeling knowing that had I not, I wouldn’t be in this privileged position today talking to great people like yourself.

        • Jonathan October 28, 2009 Reply

          Hey Steve, the truth is, no matter how we make decisions some of them will seem wrong once we have the advantage of hindsight. Doing is the biggest part of learning, and the more we do the faster we can learn (as long as we are paying attention). I consider it a privilege to know you Steve and I am not the least bit shy about saying so! Thank you my friend.

  3. jeff October 27, 2009 Reply

    Our life is the sum of all our decisions! If we aren’t happy with the results we are getting then maybe it is because we need to learn better decision making as you point out here. Great article! I sincerely appreciate the link. Take care!

    • Jonathan October 27, 2009 Reply

      Hi Jeff, great to have you here. You are so right, life is cumulative.

  4. Anita October 27, 2009 Reply

    Another great article! I know someone who I’ve watched just make one dumb mistake after the next and unfortunately the consequences were huge. I keep wondering what is wrong with their thinking. I think they know there can be consequences but think they don’t apply to him. Like he’ll get a free pass on the consequences. I guess some people are bigger risk takers than others when it comes to certain things. Thank you for writing this.

    • Jonathan October 27, 2009 Reply

      Hi Anita, I’ve known some who think they are immune to consequences also. The thing is, there life is a consequence and yet they never quite make the connection. Slow learners!

  5. Rocket Bunny October 27, 2009 Reply

    I make decisions usually fast when it comes to simple things. Career wise I take may time sometimes right up to the last minute, when I can sometimes I have to make a fast decision and cross my fingers and toes it was right.
    Then having a husband makes it easy for me to let him decide that is nice sometimes.

    • Jonathan October 27, 2009 Reply

      Hi Bunny, I sometimes hold off up to the last moment also. I like the pressure of a time limit for some reason.

  6. Nea October 27, 2009 Reply

    Great article. I believe indecision is worse than bad decisions. At least with a bad decision, you learn something.

    • Jonathan October 27, 2009 Reply

      Hi Nea, I completely agree. Indecision is really the decision not to participate. Then your life always looks like someone else’s responsibility.

  7. Karlil October 28, 2009 Reply

    Like Steven, I make quick decision most of the time. Whatever happen, happen. I’m a risk taker. Great article Jon.

    • Jonathan October 28, 2009 Reply

      Hi Nik, certainly some decisions can be made very quickly like those based on gut instinct or limited opportunity. All of our decisions contribute to the learning curve as long as we pay attention to the results. Even well thought out decisions will often involve considerable risk, that too is a choice!

  8. Vin October 28, 2009 Reply

    I think people who make “kamikaze” style decisions are letting their surroundings dictate their life to an extent. It’s great advice to include a longer term perspective in decisions, and I think it’s particularly important to make sure that your decisions align with your goals in life.

    • Jonathan October 28, 2009 Reply

      Hey Vin, I agree, those external surroundings play a huge role for some. I also agree that it is vital to align our decisions with our life goals, personal ethics and standards, and our true nature.

  9. Dragos Roua October 28, 2009 Reply

    I have a twisted approach: sometimes I go with my gut, risking the hell out of it, sometimes I ponder like I could live 1000 years. Either way, once I’m done with the decision, there’s no turning back, I’m all up and pumped to finish the race.

    Thanks for the reading, as always, inspiring :-)

    • Jonathan October 28, 2009 Reply

      Hey Dragos, thanks for bringing out the importance of following up on our decisions with a commitment. No matter what decision making process we use, it all comes down to commitment. “Commitment is the muscle of decision.”

  10. Walter October 28, 2009 Reply

    Oftentimes, decisions are to be made by our self. It is necessary. Despite the consequences, we should rely on our experience to make the “right” choice. Committing mistakes is part of the learning process and being aware of it and correcting it is what qualifies growth.

    The decisions we make in life are no more than lessons that we need to learn and adopt if we are to grow in life. We hold deep inside of us the answers we need to know.

    The powerful thoughts you have stated here are the wisdom you have gained in our observation of life. :-)

    • Jonathan October 29, 2009 Reply

      Hi Walter, I look at wisdom as the cumulative result of being a good student of life. Experience is the best teacher, the trick is to pay attention to each lesson. Thanks so much for you input.

  11. John Duffield October 29, 2009 Reply

    Good morning Jonathan and thankyou as always for your insights. Here’s something interesting….but a bit scary….about “wise decisions”. Once I’d been out of school a few decades, I began to notice something odd. Many of my friends and acquaintances were top-dog, expert decision makers who appeared to lack that “wisdom” you’re talking about in your post. Clearly bad choices were made concerning life-partners in this crowd, because more than half were divorced, with families torn up and children suffering. A large percentage were still Thanking God For Fridays and waiting for retirement too, because they’d chosen careers out of sync with who they were. In short, many are pretty rich and even locally famous….but grossly unhappy with their lives. But keep in mind….these are state-of-the-art decision makers I’m talking about here. So what’s up? Well, it works like this. Imagine a blind guy trying to choose a nice tie to go with his shirt. He’s got fifty ties to choose from, but nobody to help. How can he decide? He can’t see the consequences of his decisions unless his vision comes back. Right? Exactly. Same with my expert decision-making buddies. They’re blind to who they are….and can’t make wise decisions about their lives until they restore a special kind of “Vision”. They can make choices and decisions ‘til the cows all die….with no chance of any being “wise” for their lives. Even so, there’s still hope for these guys and gals. Why? There is only one thing stopping them from seeing who they are (restoring their Vision). It’s called fear of being judged….and they can learn how to take it away. And here’s a neat thing. Anyone who takes away fears of being themselves will automatically make wise choices about their life. You don’t have to be a rocket launching expert decision making person. Just an authentic person. Ciao Jonathan. John Duffield

    • Jonathan October 29, 2009 Reply

      Hi John, I just love your illustrations. You nailed it brother, the first priority for everyone should be to get in touch with who they really are. Until we take that step we will always live with internal conflict. Creating harmony in our life requires identifying our true self. This means we must be honest enough and humble enough to accept what we find. Thanks for you contribution John, I really appreciate it.

  12. Stephen October 30, 2009 Reply

    Hi Jonathan! “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.”

    That’s perfect. We are the accumulated consequences of what we have chosen in the past.

    I love the simple concept of this article. Follow your decisions to their logical consequences before you make them. I like simple and I love this.

  13. Harry van der Veen October 31, 2009 Reply

    Insightful, thanks.

  14. Fatima Da November 8, 2009 Reply

    This is so true I like the concept of “Every single decision you have ever made, or will ever make, has consequences “ So this may explain the need to learn how to evaluate our decisions effectively. Great post thanks for sharing

    • Jonathan November 9, 2009 Reply

      Hi Fatima, and welcome to Advanced Life Skills. It’s nice to have you join the conversation. A phrase that has stayed with me over the years goes like this: “Before you make a decision, follow it down the long hallway of consequences.” Imagine how different the world would be if everyone did that!

  15. Dr. Jennifer Howard November 25, 2009 Reply

    Thank you Jonathan, interesting subject. The ability to calm ourselves down, take a step back and weigh all the variables is the beginning of making a wise decision. After gathering all of the facts and thinking it through, the next step would require us to connect to ourselves. It seems to me that making our wisest decisions would come most easily when we are connected to a wiser voice within us. If we can learn to listen to that wiser voice inside, intelligent decisions aren’t so challenging.

    Dr. Jennifer Howard

  16. Sandra Lee December 16, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    Considering consequences seems to be the key point in this article and I fully agree. At the same time, I find intuition incredibly important in the realm of decision making. Sometimes it’s just not possible to think it all out.

  17. Jefferson Faudan September 26, 2011 Reply

    making a decision is easier when you detach yourself from something or someone… once you weigh your decision based on your emotions, the consequences often put you down the drains – Never be afraid to step up and leave people behind

  18. joan December 16, 2011 Reply

    I’m self destructive when it comes to my decision making. I’m like a ticking time bomb ready to apply damage were it can hurt the most. I hardly ever think of the consequences and if I do I always tell myself no one will know or they can’t prove it. Well now I’ve lost my job because of the horrible decision I made. And its not the first time. I’ve done it over and over again. I really do feel stupid. Hopeless. Slow to learn. I really want to be a better person but I’m afraid I’m not a good person at all.

    • Jonathan December 16, 2011 Reply

      Hi Joan, it’s time to move past this self destructive behavior. You are not stupid and the situation is not hopeless. Please visit my coaching site and let’s get you out of this mess once and for all.

  19. Anna July 11, 2014 Reply

    Maybe I have BIG commitment issues… I need to start learning how to respect my own judgements more and respect them…

  20. sherill July 13, 2014 Reply

    Hi, thank you so much for giving me a good insight on how to make wise decisions. Knowing that being aware of the consequences that will happen will help us a lot. True indeed that our past decision is a reflection of our life today. Great post.

  21. Techpurge July 16, 2014 Reply

    Awesome article, My pro tip to making decisions is being able to stand by the decisions i make in case someone brings up any issues about them. I find that it gives me more confidence towards life, and also allows me to think long and hard (not overthink) before i make any decisions. I would say, never make any decision in a rush, sleep over it, think about, if you are sure it’s what you want to do, go ahead. If your gut tells you no, don’t do it. Cheers!!

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