Decisions, decisions, decisions. So many decisions every week, every day, every hour. Did you know the average adult makes an estimated 35,000 decisions every day? Whether you believe the number or not, there is no question we are constantly making decisions. Life is so full of them that most go unnoticed.
With so many daily decisions, you would think everyone would be absolute experts at decision-making. Yet we know that is not true.
Let’s look at one area where making better decisions can benefit everyone — those more significant, life-impacting decisions — and a simple, straightforward technique to make them.
“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” Tony Robbins (1960-present)
Decisions, decisions, decisions
Before diving into the technique, let’s establish what a decision is and what the term decision-making means.
One way to view decisions is they are a product of the mind. Most decisions require action to create a result. Therefore, decision-making is a step in the process of creating.
A typical definition of decision is:
decision (noun) — a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration. — the action or process of deciding something or of resolving a question. — a formal judgment. Oxford Languages
Put simply, once you make a decision, you can act on it and create what you want.
Decision-making often leads to creating something tangible, such as a report at work, a friendship, a book, pottery, or anything else you may desire.
A decision can also lead to an intangible creation, such as forming a new tax law. This leads to action to pay the tax or face the consequences when deciding to reinforce the law. In other words, an intangible creation often creates other tangible results.
Lastly, decisions can be consequential or inconsequential. This article addresses consequential decisions since they have a meaningful impact on life.
“Decisions are the frequent fabric of our daily design.” Don Yaeger (1962-present)
To determine and prioritize specific decisions in life, read the article “How to Make the Best Use of Your Time.”
How to make the best decision
Most decisions in life are spontaneous. With so many decisions made daily, this is as it should be. Little or no forethought is required.
Some decisions require a little more thought. These can include what you wear today, what you have for breakfast, and how you spend your time this evening.
The next level of decision requires even more thought as it impacts more than the immediate. Big decisions happen regularly in most people’s lives. They often center around relationships, family, education, career, finances, or major purchases such as a car or home. These consequential decisions make a longer-term impact on life.
What big decisions are you facing at this time?
Let’s walk through a simple process that can help you make the best possible decisions.
Step 1 — Ask the right questions
The first thing to do is to ask yourself the right questions about the decision. One of the best tools for this is the Ben Franklin decision-making pro and con technique.
Franklin’s technique is simply two columns, one marked pro and one marked con.
- For the pro column, ask the question, “What are the advantages of making this decision?” then list as many potential advantages as possible.
- In the con column, ask the question, “What are the disadvantages of making this decision?” then list as many disadvantages as possible.
The objective of this first step is to think more deeply about the result of the decision. Developing more viewpoints or perspectives is crucial to making the best decision.
You may come up with choices you had not thought of previously. You can apply the Ben Franklin technique to your chosen option to check its validity further.
The answers to the right questions will lead you closer to what you will create once you decide.
Step 2 — Consider the action required
Most decisions lead to action at some point. Take education, for example. As with every significant decision, you will make many other decisions that impact it. Some are made on purpose, while others are made unconsciously or out of ignorance.
When deciding, consider available actions and how they will affect your career. For example, to optimize your career outcome, you must make the right choices, take the right actions on your course of studies, and pursue the degree best suited for the work you intend to do.
Step 3 — What result do you want?
Now is a good time to clarify the result or outcome you want to create. Strongly focusing on this final result is vital.
Ask yourself what the decision and action will create in your life. You can loop back through the previous steps as often as needed to refine the desired vision or outcome.
“We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.” Stephen Covey (1932–2012)
Step 4 — Discuss the decision with someone You trust
The final step in making the best decision is to discuss it with someone you trust. You will find the input of others is invaluable for important decisions.
Just the fact that you must be able to explain your decision to someone else will help you reach a new level of clarity on what you want, the decision to make, the actions to take, and the result. If you can’t explain it to someone else, you haven’t thought it through well enough.
By using this simple four-step method, you can create what you want in life, something of value.
There you have it! A simple method for making big decisions in life. In summary:
- Ask the right questions
- Consider possible action(s)
- Refine the result you want to create
- Find someone to discuss the decision with
Decision-making doesn’t have to be a long and drawn-out process. The simple method in this article can be done quickly and help you become more decisive.
Before making that next big decision, please heed the wisdom in the following words.
“Every decision is easy once you make it. The important thing is to think carefully, make your decision, and then work to make your choice the right one. That is the secret to a happy life. There are very few wrong decisions in life, but very few people who are willing to make the effort it takes to make their decisions the right ones.” John Kramer (1956-present)