A Simple 5-Step Decision Making Process

November 11th, 2012

Every day we are faced with situations in life that require us to make choices. Some of these choices are easy, and at times, some of them can be difficult. Easy decisions consist of things like what clothing you should wear; most people choose what to wear based on the season of the year, the weather of the day, and where they might be going. Other easy decisions consist of things like what to eat, what movie to see, and what television programs to watch.
Decisions that seem to be the most difficult are those that are life-changing because they can shape who we are and can dictate our future. Examples might be where you’re going to college, what kind of career you’d like, if you want to marry and have children. But don’t worry. Making good decisions is a process that can be learned.

When making decisions, there are many steps that can be taken; but when making good decisions there are really only five steps that need to be considered. These steps are as follows:

1. State The Problem or Stating Your Goal

Identify the problem. Until you have a clear understanding of the problem, goal, or decision to be made, it is meaningless to proceed. If the problem is stated incorrectly or unclearly then your decisions will be wrong. Be as specific as you can.

2. Gather Information for Weighing Your Options

When making good decisions it is best to gather necessary information that is directly related to the problem. Doing this will help you to better understand what needs to be done in solving the problem, and will also help to generate ideas for a possible solution.
Think about all of the information that you’ll need. Make a list of every possible alternative, even ones that may initially sound silly. Always seek the opinions of people that you trust or speak to experts and professionals, because it will help you to come up with a variety of solutions when weighing all your options for a final decision. You will want to gather as many resources and as much information as possible.

3. Consider the Consequences

This step can be just as important as step one because it will help you determine how your final decision will impact yourself, and/or others involved. In this step, you will be asking yourself what is likely to be the results of your decision. How will it affect you now? And how will it affect your future? How will it affect others around you, always keeping in mind that this is for you.

This is an essential step because it allows you to review the pros and cons of the different options that you listed in the previous step. It is also important because you want to feel comfortable with all your options and the possible outcome of whichever one you choose.
Take a piece of paper and in one column write Pros and in the second column write Cons. In the left hand margin, write down all of the possibilities. Weigh each and every one. Do some more writing about it if need be. Use all of your resources when doing this.

4. Make the Decision

Here comes the fun or maybe the scary part. You have identified your problem or your goal. You’ve gathered all of the possible information, gotten information from the experts, and weighed the consequences. Now it’s time to make the choice. You’ve gotten rid of all the alternatives that are silly or not practical or simply do not fit.

This is the step that can create a lot of anxiety for people. This is the step where you learn to trust your instincts or “trust you gut.”
Although you may still be slightly indecisive about your final decision, you have to take into account how this makes you feel. Ask yourself, does it feel right? And does this decision work best for you now, and in the future? When you answer those questions back, you should feel good about the result.

This is where I ask people to go into a darkened room, closed their eyes, and go deep inside to think about the decision. How do you feel? Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel good? Let your subconscious work!

Walk away from this work for a few days, then go back. How does it feel now? Do you need to tweak anything? Again trust your instincts. They will not fail you!

5. Evaluate Your Decision

A decision has no value unless you put it into action. If you are not good with taking action steps, then find someone that is to help you. Part of the implementation phase is the follow up. The follow up ensures that you’re following up!

Make a list of the necessary steps to put your decision into play. Then prepare to proceed step-by-step. This may take perseverance on your part. It may take some time to see the final outcome. You can tweak the decision along the way or you might just go ahead and go back to step two and choose another option.

Remember, this step requires some patience, and it can also encourage perseverance. Why? Because it may take some time to see the final outcome. Always looking for and anticipating unexpected problems will help alleviate undue stress, if and when a problem occurs.

You can use these five steps for any goal setting or for making any kind of decision. Write a couple of practice scenarios. See how they feel. Before long, you’ll be adept at this process. You’ll have added another essential skill to living life successfully.

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