Five Steps to Making Good Decisions

Decision-MaingWe make decisions every day. Some are harder than others and the consequences vary in matter. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were road signs along our path to show us the right way. Sunday I shared the first tough decision I had to make after the car accident—to sell or not to sell our home that was under contract to close in three weeks. My heart wanted to go through with the sale because I had no way of knowing how long Mark would be in a coma. I hoped every day he’d wake up and life could go on as planned. The realtor made a good point that we might need the money from the sale more than ever now. My emotions felt the right thing to do would be to sell our home and stay on the path we had started. My mind knew the timing was wrong. The car accident had messed up our plans to meet with the realtor to write up an offer. Logically I knew we wouldn’t be able to qualify for a new mortgage with Mark’s recovery uncertain, but sometimes it’s hard to think clearly when you really want to complete something you’ve started. My heart told me to move forward with the sale, but my head told me to take an unplanned turn.

Decisions-5 StepsWith this example in mind I’d like to share five steps to make choices easier:

  • Identify the decision to be made. Calmly and thoughtfully think about the goal and the end result hoped to obtain. High emotions, positive or negative, can impact the ability to make a rational decision. If staying calm seems impossible, I try to put off making the decision until I’m thinking clearly.
  • List the options. I like to ask advice of trusted friends and family, especially someone who has made a similar decision. By brainstorming with others, options I hadn’t thought about come up. Some I seriously consider and others I don’t, but I always appreciate getting another viewpoint. However, getting too many views can make the decision process harder and more confusing.
  • Study the options. Most decisions are made easier and better when I have enough information to make an informed decision, therefore I get as much information as possible. Important decisions should rely on logic and not emotion, so logically I try to sort out the risks and the gains. However, over thinking the options and outcomes can also become a problem.
  • Select the best solution and have a backup plan in preparation for any negative or unplanned outcome. After I’ve made an important choice, I pray and meditate about it. If I feel confused or unsure about my choice, I reevaluate my options. When I feel at peace or confident about my choice, I believe that is confirmation I’ve selected the best solution.
  • Evaluate the decision. I think about how my decision will affect other people. Will any of the possible outcomes have a negative effect on the people I care about? How will I feel about the outcome several years from now? If it isn’t a positive outcome I look at the other possible options on the list again, study the option and select a better solution. No matter which decision I make, I’m prepared to accept responsibility for the outcome. Finally, after I’ve acted on the choice and with time, it’s easy to see if it was the right or wrong decision. There is something to learn from every decision whether it turns out for the best or not.

Decision-Right-WrongWhenever I’m in the Ogden, UT area, which is very seldom, I like to drive by the home we fell in love with. I’m not sure why I do this, maybe it’s a reality check or just because I’m curious about how the neighborhood has developed over the years. Possibly it’s my way of dealing with the grief of a lost lifestyle, just as some people find solace at the cemetery where their loved one is buried. I do feel sad that our life course changed, but I’m at peace that I made the right decision to stay in our Sandy, UT home where we were surrounded by good friends and neighbors. The security of a familiar home and surroundings proved valuable. It feels great when I can look back on a tough decision and know I made the right choice for the situation. It would be nice if I could always feel this content when I reevaluate every decision I’ve made.

What steps do you take when you’re faced with a tough decision?