7 tips on how to make good decisions

Each of us is regularly faced with decisions. Consciously and unconsciously, we sometimes make up to 100,000 decisions a day. In most cases, it only becomes clear afterward whether these were good or bad decisions. We tend to put off difficult decisions that have far-reaching consequences or avoid them altogether – often with a guilty conscience. The following 7 tips are intended to show you ways in which you can make targeted decisions using reason and a good gut feeling.

Do I choose strawberry yoghurt or would I prefer cherry? Do I take the train or the car? Do I watch RTL or 3Sat? Do I fly to Mallorca or Ibiza on vacation? Do I buy an Audi or a Toyota? Do I buy a house or remain a renter? Will I become a lawyer or a doctor? Ok, there are easy and difficult decisions. The coaching sessions with my clients are mostly about deciding on a career choice. What is important to me, what suits me well, what gives me joy, what has a chance of success? Do I continue as before or try something different? The consequences of these types of decisions are, of course, more far-reaching than choosing yogurt at the supermarket.

stomach and head

Researchers have examined the question of good decision-making in numerous studies. The conclusion: If you rely only on your feelings or if you act exclusively rationally, you will usually make a less good decision than if you take feelings and reason into account. The following seven tips should help you to use both your gut feeling and your head when making decisions and to derive the path and decision that is right for you.

7 tips on how to make good decisions

1. Reduce complexity

When making many decisions, we find it difficult to map both the decision factors and the possible consequences so completely that we feel like we can make a good decision. The well-known procrastination occurs because we think that the longer we put off making a decision, the more information we can gather. Tip: Set a fixed time at which you want to make the decision (and then do so!) and define a few criteria that you consider important for evaluating the decision and that you can obtain and evaluate within this time . Not everything can be clarified in advance of a decision. Accept a certain degree of remaining uncertainty.

2. Become aware of what YOU want

We often behave in a way because that is how we do it and that is what is expected of us. This also applies to decisions. Anyone who always chooses the path that others think is right forgets their own needs and values. It’s not about living as if we were alone in the world. Consideration and mutual appreciation are important values ​​in social interaction. However, become aware of whether you are doing something (or deciding) because others expect it of you or whether it is your own desire and motivation. You are the boss of your life and decide about it.

3. Clear your mind

Good decisions are made with both your head and your gut. To make a sensible decision, it is advisable to create a pros and cons list with which you can evaluate the alternatives based on certain criteria. When making decisions about changing jobs, this can include, for example, income, your previous experience, proximity to where you live or interest in a product or industry. Write down the possible alternative courses of action from your point of view and write down the evaluation criteria in columns to the right. Go through all the alternatives and assign stars based on the respective criteria – from one (not very attractive) to four stars (good rating). All of this is just food for the mind. At the end of this exercise, your gut may tell you that none of this matters because such a decision cannot be made with your head. But let’s get to that now….

4. Get to know your feelings

Go through the different alternatives and pay attention to what emotions they trigger in you. Pay attention to everything and perceive your body carefully. Tip: Write the alternative courses of action on individual pieces of paper or cards and lay them out on the floor with the writing facing upwards. Stand on the cards, make “contact” with them and pay attention to how you feel, what you perceive in yourself or around you. And if a car drives by outside and honks while you’re standing on a map, that too can be a sign. Pay attention to absolutely everything you feel, see, hear or smell. If there are many alternatives, ask one person to write down their impressions related to the alternatives. Which of the cards did you feel best on?

5. Sleep on it

“I have to sleep on it.” A saying that we often say when making important decisions and that is definitely justified. And not just to postpone a decision out of convenience or fear. While we sleep, our brain “sorts” the thoughts, impressions and events of the day. Connections are formed and the important is separated from the unimportant. Many mental coaching methods use the power of the subconscious to find solutions. The underlying reason (simply put) is that our subconscious knows best what is good for us. These processes also take place during sleep; we are often in a trance-like state, especially during the phases of falling asleep and waking up. How often has it happened to you that in the morning you… For example, you had a good idea while brushing your teeth or you suddenly realized what you were going to do?

6. There is strength in calm

Create a good framework for yourself to make an important decision. Decisions made under stress or under high pressure are often not rational decisions. They only act out of feelings (usually fear) and turn their heads off completely. In career coaching, I regularly experience clients who (actually) consciously want to decide on a new career, but as time goes on, either until the termination date or the end of unemployment benefits, they become hectic and mindlessly send out masses of applications. At the same time, they tell me that they don’t actually want to do these jobs. Tip: If you realize that a decision is putting you under stress, change your perspective. For example, look at yourself and your decision from the outside and give the person you see there some advice. Or in such situations, pay conscious attention to your breathing and consciously breathe in and out ten times. You will notice that you can calm down and reassess your decision with a clearer head.

7. Take the step out of your comfort zone

Our brain always tries to work as efficiently and as energy-saving as possible. It checks which alternative seems more familiar to it. The hormone dopamine is responsible for giving us the feeling of reward when something feels familiar. As a result, we value habits we love so much and feel a sense of effort or discomfort when we leave the well-trodden paths of life and take a step outside of our comfort zone. Most decisions involve risk and unknown territory. How many difficult decisions have you made in your life? What’s the worst thing that can happen if you make a decision wrong? How many decisions have you regretted? When asked this question, most clients answer “none,” because even after a seemingly bad decision was made at that moment, things continue somehow and new, previously unconsidered possibilities often open up afterwards.

Psychologists have discovered that after making a wrong decision, a kind of protective mechanism kicks in that not only allows us to put the mistake aside, but also makes the circumstances that have arisen seem beautiful. We construct the world as we like it. What weighs on us more than a bad decision is the feeling of having missed an opportunity. Dare to step out of your comfort zone – perhaps in small steps at first – because this is the only way you can literally expand your horizons and develop further.

I wish you a clear mind and a good gut feeling when making your next decisions.I would be happy if you share this post in your networks.


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