How To Make Good Decisions

Making decisions that more often good.

Good decisions come from diligent research, comprehensive understanding and commitment to making a choice. Indecision is the worst choice of all.

What Is Making A Decision?

Formally speaking, a decision is a cognitive process that involves making a choice or reaching a conclusion after careful consideration of various alternatives. 

This happens with simple daily tasks to complex, life-altering ones. Decisions can be influenced by personal values, beliefs, emotions, and circumstances.

The decision-making process usually includes the following:

First, there is the need to make a decision, often in response to a problem, a challenge, or an opportunity. Once the decision-making process starts, you gather information related to the situation, try to determine the options and evaluate the potential consequences of each choice. 

Next, you would weigh the pros and cons of each choice, often looking at the theoretical short and long-term results of it. Decisions are also usually influenced by past experiences. There are psychological factors like risk tolerance, personal bias, and the ability to handle uncertainty. 

Finally, you select the decision with the most projected favorable outcome. 

Whether or not the decision results in the way you thought it would justifies the choice you made.

We Are All Faced With Constant Decisions

There are endless decisions to be made.

Life is filled with countless decisions, ranging from the seemingly mundane to the profoundly impactful. 

Every day, you and I navigate through a labyrinth of choices, each appearing to have its own outcome.

Some decisions appear without much importance, but those are very much what make up our experiences. Choosing what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, or the route to work may seem like nothing, but these shape the rhythm and routine of our daily existence.

Along with the ordinary, some decisions carry more weight and can pivot life dramatically. 

These moments seem to require thoughtful consideration. Career choices, relationships, and major life transitions fall into this category. The repercussions of these choices are felt for a long time. 

Yet, when considering life as a whole, even the simple, inconsequential ones, are interconnected with the larger, more profound ones.

The collective impact of routine decisions, when looked at in retrospect, can be significant. 

The person you randomly spoke with at a coffee shop, the book you chose to read, or the hobby you decided to pursue may set in motion events that shape your character, values, and where you go next. You may marry that person at the coffee shop, that book may inspire your decision to change careers, or the hobby you go after may save your life from stress.

Is There A Right Choice?

Making decisions can be challenging.

People and professionals use rational analysis, draw on past experiences, and consider various contingencies to make decisions that seem most likely to succeed.

It’s often related to the highest probability of a favorable outcome. 

A good example would be Warren Buffet. He applies a thorough detailed analysis of companies that weigh factors like income, debt, assets, product, and leadership when selecting stock to purchase.

However, even the most meticulous decision-making process can fall into uncertainty.

Life is filled with unpredictability. Unforeseen variables can come into play, influencing the course of events in ways we cannot always anticipate. While decisions may be guided by calculated conditions and informed reasoning, the future is mostly resistant to absolute prediction. 

Warren Buffet openly admitted he did not get the results he wanted from several investments. Two examples are the textile business that was initially Berkshire Hathaway, and the other purchasing US Airways stock in 1989. Both were losses.

The complicated dance of chance and circumstance reveals the limitations of human foresight. What may appear as a well-calibrated decision with a high probability of success is, in reality, still no guarantee.

The truth is, there is no absolute right or wrong decision respectively. 

Granted, if a decision was made to achieve a certain outcome, then the choice that achieves it would be the right one. However, that’s not to say the other selection would fare any better. No one knows for sure how events play out. Only under the presumption that circumstances are locked, unable to change, should it happen again, is there the chance that the other decision was correct.

So long as proper research is used as the basis of making a choice, and not a reliance on “gut feeling” alone, or “randomness” similar to gambling, any decision made is arguably the right one. 

The key lies in finding a choice with which you feel genuinely comfortable. This is the true measure of a well-made decision.

Why Making Decisions Can Be So Difficult

Making a choice can be very challenging.

Many are often afraid to make any decision.

At the heart of this anxiety is the uncertainty that surrounds choices. Fear of the consequences can be paralyzing. This is fueled by a variety of factors, including the fear of failure, the fear of disappointment, and the fear of facing negative outcomes.

The fear of making a bad decision is also closely linked to expectations and judgment. 

Our world often values success and achievement. As such, we may worry about the perceived failure that could come from making the wrong choice. The fear of judgment from others, as well as the impact a bad decision could have on reputation, are part of that anxiety.

Additionally, a major stumbling block is a phenomenon known as decision paralysis. 

Sometimes there is an overwhelming array of options and potential outcomes. This can be challenging for some of us to make any decision at all, fearing the unknown consequences that may follow.

The article, Decidophobia—Understanding the Fear of Making Decisions, explains these fears in more detail.

Why You Should Make A Decision, No Matter What

While the fear of making a decision can lead some to a state of paralysis, there is a strong argument that not making any decision is worse than choosing the “wrong” one.

The fear of making a mistake can hold us back, trapping a person in a cycle of overthinking and analysis paralysis. However, time doesn’t stand still, and opportunities may pass by while indecisive. As such, the potential for regret is usually greater, especially when looking at what could have been later.

Even worse, not making a decision can create a sense of powerlessness and frustration. 

Life is always moving, and circumstances evolve.

By avoiding decisions, we give up control over our narratives and become passive observers rather than active participants in our lives. Taking decisive action, though the outcome is uncertain, can empower us to shape our lives with a sense of purpose.

In many cases, making a decision – even if it turns out to be less than ideal – opens the door to valuable learning experiences. Mistakes provide opportunities for growth, adaptation, and resilience that we may later become grateful for.

The I Ching Can Help

Coins are used as part of using the IChing.

The I Ching, also known as the Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese divination text that has been used for centuries to gain insights into decision-making and comprehending the natural order of the world. The fundamental concept behind the I Ching is the idea that the universe is in a constant state of change, and by understanding these changes, we can make wiser decisions.

The I Ching consists of 64 hexagrams, each composed of six stacked lines, either broken (yin) or unbroken (yang). 

These hexagrams represent different archetypal situations and conditions. To use the I Ching for decision-making, you would typically cast a set of coins or use yarrow sticks to create a hexagram. Today, online random generators can replace physical coins or yarrow sticks. The resulting hexagram is then consulted to provide guidance on the specific situation or question at hand.

What sets the I Ching apart is its emphasis on the dynamic nature of situations. 

Rather than providing fixed answers, it offers a nuanced perspective that takes into account the fluidity of circumstances. The hexagrams offer insights into the present situation, the forces at play, and the potential outcomes based on the principles of Yin and Yang.

The I Ching encourages us to embrace change, adaptability, and a holistic understanding of our situations, which goes beyond simple decision-making.

In other words, it can bring aspects of a decision into mind that were not necessarily addressed before.

However, a slight word of caution. The I Ching is a tool to help, but not an absolute authority. Be careful to avoid over reliance on it, replacing your own comprehension.

You are always the one who responds to any situation.

Letting Go Can Bring Clarity To Choice

Letting go provides a sense of freedom which brings clarity.

Often, the burden of indecision is rooted in attachment—whether it be to past experiences, expectations, or fears about the future. When you learn to let go of these emotional anchors, they create mental space and clarity, enabling you to make more informed and objective choices.

One aspect of letting go involves releasing attachments to outcomes. 

We often become fixated on a specific result, and this fixation can cloud judgment and hinder the ability to see alternative paths. By releasing preconceived notions about how things should unfold, individuals open themselves up to a broader range of possibilities. It helps free the mind to better choices.

Letting go also removes the need for absolute control. 

Decision-making is inherently uncertain, and attempting to control every aspect of a situation can lead to stress and anxiety. Allowing uncertainty and recognizing that not every variable can be managed allows a more open mind. This can reduce the fear of making the wrong choice and empower you to move forward with confidence.

Furthermore, letting go of past mistakes or perceived failures helps greatly in decision-making. 

Holding onto regrets or guilt can create a subconscious barrier that influences present choices. By acknowledging and forgiving oneself, you free up mental energy to focus on the current decision at hand, unburdened by the weight of past errors.

You can read more about letting go here and here.

Feng Shui Provides A Supportive Environment To Make Better Choices

Feng Shui helps with making decisions.

Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese practice that dates back thousands of years, is a philosophy that revolves around the idea you are influenced by your surrounding environment. The fundamental principle of Feng Shui is to create a balanced and positive atmosphere that furthers growth and success. One area Feng Shui can significantly impact is decision-making.

In a Feng Shui-designed environment, careful consideration is given to the placement of furniture, colors, and decorative elements. 

A well-organized and clutter-free space has positive effects on the mind and behavior. This naturally supports focus and mental clarity. For instance, placing a desk in a commanding position, where you can see the door without being directly in line with it, has been shown to enhance a sense of control and security, positively impacting decision-making confidence.

Colors in a Feng Shui setting also help in creating a supportive atmosphere. 

Colors associated with the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water—have specific psychological qualities that can influence emotions and cognitive processes. For instance, earthy tones tend to promote stability and grounded thinking, while blues and greens enhance calmness and creativity. By carefully incorporating these colors into the environment, you create a space that nurtures a balanced and focused mindset conducive to effective decision-making.

You can read more about Feng Shui here.

Consider Artificial Intelligence, Like ChatGPT

Artificial Intelligence can help with making decisions.

Yes, even AI can help you reach conclusions about which choice to select, and it’s not much different than any other kind of research, only faster.

The ability of AI to process vast amounts of data, recognize patterns, and generate insights makes it a great tool to form effective choices. AI systems can quickly analyze complex datasets, identify correlations, and derive meaningful conclusions.

This not only expedites the decision-making process but also ensures that decisions are grounded in a thorough examination of available information. Whether it’s in business, healthcare, finance, or other domains, AI can assist by providing a comprehensive understanding of the factors at play, thus making more well-informed choices.

Furthermore, AI excels in predictive modeling, allowing better anticipation of potential outcomes based on historical data and current trends. 

Here Is How To Make A Decision

There is a way to make decisions that work more often than not.

There is no exact way or more correct manner to make a decision. However, the following approach is a great way to make decisions in most circumstances.

1. Be Clear

Identify the decision you need to make. Break down the problem into specific components to gain a better understanding of the factors involved.

2. Gather Relevant Information

Collect all the information that is related to the decision you’re trying to make. Research, seeking advice from experts, and considering past experiences help significantly. The more comprehensive your understanding of the situation, the better equipped you will be to make an informed choice.

3. Evaluate The Pros and Cons

Assess the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. Consider the potential risks and benefits associated with each option. This step is crucial in understanding the potential outcomes of your decision.

4. Manage Emotions

Emotions can cloud judgment, so strive to maintain a level-headed approach. Acknowledge your feelings, but try not to let them override rational thinking. Take a step back if needed to gain perspective before making a final decision.

An effective way to manage your emotions is to practice letting go and to create an environment that is receptive to your needs. Feng Shui is one way of organizing your space to help create clarity of thought.

5. Make a Decision

After careful consideration, choose the option that best aligns with your objectives, values, and the available information. Trust your judgment and be decisive.

6. Take Responsibility

Once the decision is made, take ownership of it. Accept that not all decisions will have the outcome you want, so use any setbacks as learning opportunities for future choices.

7. Adapt

Try to understand that circumstances may change. Be open to adjusting your decision if new information emerges. Flexibility is a key component of effective decision-making.

The Best Decision Is The One You Make

Making a decision, if only to choose one, is better than none.

Making decisions can be tough.

The future is inherently uncertain and outcomes are not exactly written in stone. In the face of such ambiguity, recognize that the right decision is not necessarily the one with a guaranteed favorable outcome, but rather the one that has been chosen after proper consideration.

In other words, after you’ve done as much research as you could, simply making a choice, whether it works or not, is the best one. 

Indecision is worse than not making any choice at all. Time will continue one way or another, and as it does, life moves with or without you. 

No one can predict the future with absolute certainty.

However, so long as you do what you can to understand your options, making a choice puts you on a pathway of progression. If it ends up not being as you had hoped, most of the time you can correct course, or you very well may discover benefits, possibly something better, than you originally saw.

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