We all want the best for ourselves, yet we often sabotage our goals and aspirations by making terrible decisions that we end up regretting. Decision-making skills are the foundation of a happy and fulfilled life, yet we are not always aware that we can and should develop and refine these skills. The decision-making process can look different from one person to another, but some general principles apply to everyone.
1. Embrace Self-Awareness
One of the main reasons why people often make decisions that don’t align with their true values is that they don’t practice self-reflection. By reflecting on yourself and evaluating your personality, values, emotions, and behaviors, you become more self-aware. And the more self-aware you are, the more likely you are to make decisions that are right for you. There are many proactive ways to boost your self-awareness. Take the Myers Briggs test to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of your personality type. Track and analyze your emotions in a journal. The habit of writing down your goals, dreams, and aspirations also promotes better self-awareness.
2. Learn to Stand Up to Social Pressure
Social pressure is the direct influence that your family, friends, coworkers, community, and society at large exert on you. By encouraging you to conform to their values, attitudes, and behaviors, they’re subtly demanding that you compromise on yours. When making big decisions in life or at work, some people allow social pressure to influence their decision-making process. However, if your values don’t align with those of the people around you, standing up to social pressure is critical for making better decisions. You are the only person apt to make decisions for yourself because no one can know you better than you know yourself.
3. Always Calculate the Risks
Do you often regret your decisions? Do you feel overwhelming anxiety when forced to make a big life decision? A helpful way to minimize the regret and anxiety associated with decision-making is to strive to understand your tolerance to risk. For example, if you’re a risk-averse person that finds familiarity comfortable, this preference may unknowingly influence you to make poor decisions that keep you in your comfort zone. However, people with a high tolerance to risk are also prone to making poor decisions. By not considering the risks carefully, they put themselves in challenging situations. To make better decisions that help you grow as a person, always calculate the risks thoroughly, but don’t let the fear of risk stop you from acting on your goals. Push your limits gradually to give yourself time to adapt.
4. Ask For Advice or Feedback
Asking for advice or feedback is different from giving in to social pressure. Social pressure can feel like an oppressive force because it manifests as advice that you never asked for. Advice and feedback are valuable when you ask for them specifically from people you respect and admire for their knowledge, or who have been in the same situation and can speak from direct experience. Other people’s unique insights can help you gain a better perspective on things. And by gathering both objective and subjective data, you will be able to make more informed decisions. It’s also crucial to ask for feedback or advice from people who will be directly affected by your decision.
5. Trust Your Intuition
Reasoning and analytical skills play a fundamental role in the decision-making process, but the rational mind has limits. In some situations, especially when you have to make quick decisions, relying on your intuition can lead to better outcomes. Intuition may seem like a vague term, but numerous research studies attest to its power and validity. Intuition draws on past experiences and environmental cues that don’t register on a conscious level. Our brains take in a lot more information from the environment and remember vastly more than we realize. And intuition is our only way to access all this extra information. If you don’t trust your intuition or gut instinct, you risk making poor decisions. However, intuition on its own is not a perfect guide, so it should always be backed up by data analysis. By combining the powers of intuition and reasoning, you can make excellent decisions.
Regret is a significant source of life dissatisfaction, so learning to make better decisions is essential for your long-term happiness. Use the tips above to make decisions that will help you live your best life.