Helpful ArticlesPersonal Development

How To Make Good Decisions: Proven Tips from a Psychologist

By May 8, 2018 No Comments
Better decision making, good decisions, Psychologist Personal Development Mentoring, Sage & Sound Psychology, South Brisbane Australia

Make better decisions, faster.

Making quick, confident decisions is something a surprising number of people struggle with. The ideas below are designed to improve both your ability to make a choice you’re happy with, as well as helping you to see that you can cope with a ‘wrong’ decision. There are no wrong decisions by the way, life is all about how you react to it!

Flip a coin (roll a dice/ close your eyes and point)

This is a really fast way to make small decisions. If you agonise over whether you really need those new pants, or what to order from the café, just flip a coin and trust the flip. This sort of decision making will help you to see that most decisions don’t matter much in the long run, so it’s safe to trust yourself and make a quick decision. It’ll also teach you that the ‘wrong’ decision is totally manageable and can even make for a good story later. Plus, if you flip a coin and then find yourself wanting to re-toss the coin, you’ll have figured out what you really wanted anyway – the other option!

Write it Down

There is power in writing things down. In decision making, writing down the good and bad things about each option can help you to see the best option.

Follow these steps:

1. Define the choice.
Instead of writing ‘should I stay or should I go?’, frame your decision as one action, e.g. ‘Should I leave?’ (In this case, the choice is leaving, as staying is the default option – you’re already there).

2. Headline a piece of paper with your question.
Draw a line down the middle of the paper. Label one side ‘good’, one side ‘bad’ and start listing the different aspects of the decision you need to make. When you can’t think of anything else to add, it’s time to evaluate. Is your list heavily skewed to one side? With it all laid out on paper, it might be clear that one side has a lot more going for it than the other. If not, keep reading.

3. Re-organise each side of your list so that the best thing about leaving is at the top of the good side, and the worst thing about leaving is at the top of the bad side.
Ask yourself, does the fear of the worst thing outweigh the awesomeness of the good thing?

4. Look at how bad the worst thing is that could happen and ask yourself – can I live with that?
If you can’t cope with a particular outcome, then you need to choose the other option. Know your own limits. If that hasn’t ruled either option out, look further at how great the most awesome possibility is. Is that worth chasing, even if the cost is high? Most people tend to regret things they didn’t do, more than mistakes they make.

Writing down options increases your confidence that you’ve made the right choice by focussing on the reasons for the choice.

What would Oprah do?

Who do you admire? Celeb or best buddy, find a person whose life is generally inspirational to you. Then ask yourself ‘what would they do in this situation?’ If you’re the imaginative type, you can even pretend to have a conversation with that person about your decision, asking them questions and guessing what their response would be.  Try it, you might be surprised at what advice your own mind comes up with! Again, this strategy focuses on increasing your confidence in the decision you make by outsourcing the decision to a trusted advisor.

Know Yourself

Part of being a poor decision maker is not knowing the type of person you are, the type of person you want to be, and what you want your life to look like. When you know these things, decisions are easier to make, because you make the choice that best aligns with who you want to be and where you want to go. The strategies above will help you learn these things about yourself. Flipping a coin will help you get to know who you are, as you evaluate how much you enjoyed the choice you ended up with. Identifying a mentor helps with knowing who you want to be, and list making is about where you want to go in life – the possible outcomes of choices, and what aligns best with what you want. As you use these tools, you’ll get to know yourself better, and along the way, decisions will get easier.

Stick to It

Once you’ve made your choice, stick by it. Part of becoming a good decision maker is knowing that you won’t get it right every time, but even so the world doesn’t fall apart. What makes a decision ‘right’ is as much about how we justify it to ourselves afterwards as it is the actual decision. Find a way to make your decision the right one and if anyone questions you (or you begin to question yourself), just remind yourself of why it was the right choice to make.

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Lana Hall

Author Lana Hall

Lana Hall is a Brisbane Psychologist at Sage & Sound in Woolloongabba. She is trained to provide proven psychological strategies and counselling that can help people effectively manage anxiety, depression, work stress, relationship problems and everything mental health. Lana is a published author and has been featured in HuffPost and Australian Women's Weekly.

More posts by Lana Hall