How to Make Decisions: 10 Useful Questions and 5 Simple Techniques

This post is by Barry Demp of dempcoaching.com.

I like things to be simple, and yet if you read even a fraction of the information about decision-making, you could get a brain cramp! For that reason, I will share some simple ideas that you may “try on” as you navigate your professional and personal life decisions.

General questions and techniques for great decision-making

Decisions

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When you’re making any decision, it’s useful to ponder these questions:

  1. What are my needs, preferences and the objectives I desire?
  2. How can I use both my heart and head in making this decision?
  3. What creative alternatives can I generate?
  4. What are the drawbacks and risks associated with this decision?
  5. What are the positive outcomes that will occur if I make this decision?
  6. What would logic and an objective approach have me decide?
  7. What do my intuition and gut tell me to do?
  8. What does my knowledge and experience suggest?
  9. What decision will benefit the most people?
  10. What process or techniques are available to make this decision?

You can use these simple techniques to help with any decision:

  1. Create a Pros and Cons list of advantages and disadvantages of each decision.
  2. Prioritize by choosing the options with the highest probability of success.
  3. Choose the first option that comes to mind. It is often correct.
  4. If the option is between two equally good decisions, flip a coin and get into action.
  5. Check your moral compass and values and ask yourself what is right.

“The pain of discipline weighs ounces whereas the pain of regret weights tons.”  Jim Rohn

The power of making effective decisions and taking decisive action is the source of professional and personal success. If you happen to make a mess—and we all do from time to time—you can always decide to clean it up.

What decisions are you facing in your professional or personal life today? Which of the above questions and techniques will you use to help you choose a route forwards?

Barry Demp is a highly-skilled Michigan Business and Personal coach, working with small business owners, executives and other professionals. He has a free ebook Time Management Strategies and Tactics: A Workbook available on his website, and he blogs regularly about self-improvement.

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Comments

  1. Sean says:

    Being indecisive has lead to many missed opportunities and frustrations. I really enjoyed your post and learned a lot about making intelligent decisions and acting on them.

    • Barry says:

      Hi Sean

      Take a look at the decisions that are just in front of you today. See if any of the strategies provided give you greater insight into your next step.

  2. I follow a fairly similar process when it comes to major decisions. I mean, it’s a little less fleshed out but it’s definitely in the same vein.

    But you know, I often just allow a minor decision to be decided emotionally. I have no idea where I learned this but it’s a fantastic little tip:

    Assign each option to one side of a coin. Flip the coin.

    By the time you catch it, you’ll know which answer you actually wanted.

    Ignore the result.

    • Barry says:

      I agree. sometimes we make way too big a deal about making decisions. A key is to look at the outcomes and the success of some of these flip the coin choices.

  3. Hi Barry. I find that when making a decision it is best to use a combination of the left and right brain plus the heart.

    • Barry says:

      Hi Justin

      A very cool older book that I refer to often is called The Six Thinking Hats” by Edward Debono. I think you will find it very helpful when using your heart and head.

  4. Tohami says:

    Making more decisions (even wrong ones) will lead to making the right decisions almost every time. Decision making is like a muscle workout. The more you do it, the more you get better at it. Start with less risky decisions, get used to the process and gain the confidence to make bigger and more critical decisions.

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