Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Making Better Decisions: Hints for Everyday Life

No day goes by without having to make decisions. Whether it's choosing what to have for breakfast or making significant life choices, our decisions shape our experiences and outcomes. When faced with a tough decision it’s common to feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, wound up, pressured, confused, distracted, tired. Often, it is not the actual act of making decisions that is frightening but rather it is the uncertainty of the consequences. As we grow older, the decisions increase in complexity and the consequences become more significant.

cross roads

In this MFC article, let’s explore some practical strategies to help you make better decisions. The key is not to avoid making decisions, on the one hand, and not rush to make them, on the other.

  1. Define Your Goals, i.e., What do you want to achieve? Identifying your objectives will provide a clear direction and help you make decisions that align with your values and aspirations.

  2. Make informed decisions by gathering relevant information about the options available to you. This could involve researching, seeking advice from trusted sources, or consulting experts in the field. The more information you have, the better equipped you’ll be to make an informed choice.
  1. Weigh the Pros and Cons of each option by making a list of the pros and cons associated with each alternative. This exercise can help you evaluate the potential outcomes and identify any potential risks or benefits. Remember, what may be a pro for someone else might not necessarily be a pro for you. Consider your own values and priorities.
  1. Trust Your Intuition, as it is a powerful tool that can guide us towards the right decision. However, ensure that you balance intuition with rational thinking and evidence-based information.

  2. Seek Different Perspectives by discussing your options with friends, family, or mentors who can offer different perspectives or raise points you hadn’t considered. However, remember that the final decision should ultimately be yours, as you are the one who knows yourself best.

  3. Consider the Potential Long-Term Consequences, e., how your choices may impact your future and the people around you. Will this decision align with your long-term goals and values? Taking a step back and considering the bigger picture can help you make decisions that are more likely to bring you fulfillment and happiness.

  4. Embrace Flexibility by remembering that decision-making is an ongoing process. Sometimes, even with careful consideration, things may not go as planned. It’s important to be open to adapting and adjusting your decisions when necessary. Embracing flexibility allows you to learn from your experiences and make better choices in the future.

  5. Keep a diary. If you feel like you’re on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, it might help to keep track of your feelings by writing them down, & tapping into some of the emotion regulation tips in the MFC article on that topic. Also, visiting the Thoughts/Feelings/ Behaviour articles in this series.

Let’s look at an example. Imagine that Jane has been working for the same employer for 5 years & is well established & appreciated. Another company head hunts her for a higher position.

To make a balanced decision, Jane needs to determine what it is that she wishes to achieve – Promotion? Higher Pay? Appreciation? Then she needs to gather pertinent information, e.g., approach her current employer and explore the possibility of a promotion, learn more about the new company, research other organisations, etc. Jane would then need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of her options and select the option which best aligns with her values and priorities, e.g., work-life balance, supportive working environment, appreciation, etc. Jane could also speak with colleagues and friends to diversify her perspectives.

It would also be helpful if Jane then considered the long-term consequences of her decision, looking at the bigger picture rather than short term gain. E.g., although, the new company may not be offering as high a pay as she would like, perhaps the position itself has more opportunities for movement upwards or into areas of interest not offered in her current organisation. Finally, Jane could manage the effects of her emotions on her decision making by keeping a diary to help her identify thoughts and emotions that may impede her ability to reach a balanced decision.

I invite you to think of an issue where you need to make a decision. Then, follow the above guidelines.

Take away message: Making decisions can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can enhance your decision-making skills. By defining your goals, gathering information, weighing the pros and cons, trusting your intuition, seeking different perspectives, considering long-term consequences, and embracing flexibility, you can make more informed and satisfying decisions in your everyday life. Remember, decision-making is a skill that can be developed and refined over time. So, take a deep breath, trust yourself, and make the best choices for your well-being and happiness.

Stay tuned for our next article where we will explore how to improve one’s memory!

Important: If you find yourself struggling to navigate your emotions or are experiencing significant distress, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and help you develop personalised strategies to manage your emotions effectively.

Get in touch with Shire Doctors and Dentists today

Important: If you find yourself struggling to navigate your emotions or are experiencing significant distress, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and help you develop personalised strategies to manage your emotions effectively.

Dr Rosanna Francis is a clinical psychologist who believes in the inner strength of the individual, and the value of tapping into these strengths and learning new skills to help one live a more comfortable, fulfilling life. She has over 20 years’ experience working across a diverse range of psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, complex trauma, relationships, stress, self-confidence, and emotion regulation; and a special interest (research & clinical) in working with people with high intellectual ability who struggle with anxiety.