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Decision making: 9 tips & 5 simple methods

Thinking woman making decision and have an idea. She looking up on grey background

A person makes countless decisions during the day. These include serious decisions such as the choice of profession, and everyday decisions such as the choice of clothing and breakfast. We have valuable tips regarding decision making for you in the following.

Indecision often occurs in everyday life, especially among insecure people. Rather listen to your head or your gut? Yet making decisions isn’t so difficult anymore with our tips.

"I can’t decide" – decision-making frustration

Too many choices frustrate

What should I wear today? What do I eat for breakfast today? Which hairstyle do I want to wear today? Should I pack an umbrella? Or are sunglasses the better option?

During the day, countless such questions come up with quick decisions. Some of them are easy to make, while others require a bit of thought. Important life decisions are harder to make, yet thinking for a long time is not always beneficial.

If you have too many decisions to make in a day, you will be unhappy in the long run. Nowadays, there are innumerable choices. The offer in shopping streets and supermarkets is endless.

New products are constantly coming onto the market, bringing with them even more choices. And professionally, there are more and more options, too. New courses of study and career fields make choosing a career increasingly difficult.

When it comes to choosing a partner, many people are also leaving various options open. Dating apps and social media are always offering new options. With so much choice, it’s hard to commit to anything.

With so much choice, the tried and true often seems to be the right decision. It’s not without reason that many children still choose the same profession as their parents. Doctors' children, for example, are particularly likely to study medicine. In addition to family, the following factors can influence our decisions:

  • Origin
  • Friends
  • School
  • Hormones
  • Marketing tricks
  • Feelings
Loss anxiety

When it comes to decision frustration, fear of loss also plays a role. If you decide on something, you thereby exclude various other options. This inevitably leads to the question: what if you had chosen another option?

People tend to feel the loss rather than rejoice over the decision they have made. However, this often leads to bad decisions that are accompanied by short-term rewards.

What influences your decisions

What influences your decisions

To make a good decision, both your mind and your gut feeling should be involved.

If you want to decide purely rationally, you will probably never be able to make a decision, because every option feels equally good.

While decisions used to be made by the mind alone, scientists today know the importance of feelings in decision making.

The subconscious mind also plays its part in making the right decision. Decisions are especially good when your subconscious mind has a hand in making them, because it can process complex information very well.

This is especially true when your mind has to think about many other things at the same time, such as when you are currently under a lot of stress. The hormones are also involved in decision making. Among other things, the male sex hormone testosterone makes you more willing to take risks when making decisions.

Making the right decision: here’s how

Here’s how to make good decisions

Making decisions is never easy. There’s constantly the worry of making the wrong decision and missing a great opportunity. If you keep a few factors in mind, you’ll find decision making easier at times.

Acting Independently

To make a decision that you will be happy with in the long run, you should act independently. Make yourself free from all external factors that could influence your decision.

It’s enough if you break away from your usual environment for a few hours. Optimally, you should spend a whole weekend alone and think about your desires, interests and goals.

Try to detach yourself from the expectations of your family and friends and realize what is important to you. Of course, you should be considerate of those around you. However, you should be aware of whether you are making decisions for yourself or for those around you.

Pursue a goal

If you have a goal in mind, you are not only more motivated, you can also make decisions more easily. That’s because your goal often tells you ahead of time where you want to go. The important thing is that you come to terms with your desires and ideas beforehand.

What is your passion? What do you want to achieve in life? And what values are important to you? If you can answer these questions, it will be easier for you to make decisions. The right decision is often the one that gets you closer to your goal.

Compromises

Not every decision is either black or white. Some decisions can also be resolved with a compromise, especially when both options are contradictory yet equally enticing.

For example, you don’t have to choose between freedom and security. You can choose both and value them differently depending on your needs. In general, there is no one right choice. Everyone has to decide for themselves what they think is right.

Decide in a good mood

Good mood affects your decision-making

How good a decision is for you is always related to your mood. Decisions are usually better when made with good mood.

Negative feelings also encourage negative decisions. An example of this would be food choices.

Happy people often eat healthy and also tend to spontaneously reach for the healthier option, while unhappy people tend to reach for unhealthy food.

This behavior is known, for example, in the form of frustration eating. Mood can not only influence the choice of food, but also play a role in major decisions. It is therefore better to always make decisions in a good mood.

Avoid stress

To ensure this, you should avoid stress when making decisions. Stress can negatively influence decisions and lead to rash behavior. Stressful situations can overwhelm you, making you feel pressured to react quickly.

However, just because decisions are made quickly doesn’t necessarily mean they are good ones. Stress can block rational thinking and lead to impulsive decisions that you may regret after the fact.

However, decision making in stressful situations is something you can practice. Emergency physicians, for example, are trained to make quick and good decisions. One wrong decision here can mean the difference between life and death.

However, if you automate thought processes and think through difficult decisions in advance, you can think independently of stress in stressful situations and thus make better decisions.

When important decisions have to be made in stressful situations, it sometimes helps to take care of stress. Deep breathing and chewing gum can already provide relief here.

Be able to forgive yourself for bad decisions

Forgive yourself for bad decisions

Even if you’ve made bad decisions once, you shouldn’t despair about them.

Everyone has probably made bad decisions at one time or another. However, it is important to recognize the factors that may have led to this decision.

Often, decisions that proved wrong in hindsight are the most plausible options at the moment of decision making.

Often, prevailing circumstances cause you to not listen to your innermost needs when making decisions and to allow yourself to be influenced by external factors.

In this case, it helps to locate these factors in order to detach yourself from them in your next decision.

In this article we explain more about forgiveness in general.

Sleep on decisions

Sleeping on decisions

Good decisions are often made while we sleep, because that is when the subconscious mind has a very decisive influence in decision-making.

Especially complex decisions can be solved well with the help of the subconscious.

The subconscious can often comprehend complex issues more comprehensively than the mind, especially if the latter is busy with other things at the same time.

Overnight, the subconscious mind can process the information that is important for decision making. This works especially well if the mind has already collected the facts beforehand.

Do not postpone decisions

To make the best decisions, you should preferably not put them off for so long, i.e. procrastinate. The first impression already says a lot about how you feel about an issue. The longer you think about a decision, the more factors come to mind that can influence it.

Sometimes you may even lose track of what you want and don’t know what you want. To avoid this, you should let your first impression influence the decision.

Know your feelings

A good decision should take into account both your gut feeling and your mind. However, in order for you to include your gut feeling in your decision, you should know your own feelings.

Some people find it difficult to correctly assess their own feelings. Try to visualize the different choices so that you understand how you feel about each option.

Tip: Write down the different options and take a few minutes to put yourself in the situation. How does the situation make you feel? Do you feel comfortable with your decision? Let your feelings resonate for a moment. For each option, write down how you feel and choose the option that feels best to you.

Don’t be afraid to try new things

Make choices without the fear of new things

Many people tend to fall back on the tried and true. This is due to the hormone dopamine, which rewards the brain for recognizing the familiar option.

This sometimes leads you to make a decision that you choose only because it feels familiar, not because there are rational reasons to make it.

This affects your buying behavior, for example. If you’ve seen a certain product on numerous posters, you’re likely to reach for it in the supermarket, even if there’s a cheaper and equally good alternative.

The same occurs when you leave your comfort zone. You feel comfortable and safe in your comfort zone, while you feel uncomfortable and unsafe when you leave your comfort zone. This is why many people are hesitant to try new things. The familiar feels less risky, even though it may rationally mean the opposite.

If you want to make good decisions, you should be aware of these influences and consciously break away from them. Only those who dare to try something new can get ahead in life in the long run. Even if the decision sometimes turns out to be wrong, it can still open new doors that reveal possibilities to you that you may not have thought of before.

Methods for making decisions

confused young man pondering all the choices

Methods for decision making

If you have to make an important decision, you can support the decision-making process with some methods. Especially if you think too much about a decision, you can lose the overview.

Thus, making a decision becomes more and more overwhelming. With the following methods you can get some clarity.

Pro and con list

The pro-and-con list is probably the most common tool to make difficult decisions. For every life decision, there are some points in favor and others against.

On the pro and con list you can record and visualize the individual points. You can mark the decisive points as important. The side with the most and most important points seems to be rationally the right decision.

You should be honest with yourself. If you look for points for rather than against, you have already made your decision subconsciously.

Although a pro-and-con list is a purely rational means of decision making, it can help you figure out how you feel about a decision. Even if the decision turns out to be the right one rationally, your gut feeling may be against it. In this case, it pays to listen to your gut.

Intuition – The First Impression

Intuitively deciding doesn’t seem like the smartest way to go. However, first impressions are often the most honest and tell you how you really feel about a particular thing. The brain draws on existing life experience.

It recognizes whether there have already been similar situations in your life and how you felt in them. Thus it forms a negative or positive impression. Of course, various factors can cancel out this impression, but often intuition is right. That’s why you should always include them in your decision.

Feelings prevail

woman hiding her emotions

A predominance of feelings

In general, you should make decisions with your gut rather than your head. If you leave the decision to your mind, it will surely come up with new factors that should be included in your decision.

However, too much information will only cause confusion and stress. Stress, in turn, makes for rash decisions. It often helps to make decisions quickly so that your mind doesn’t dwell too long on unimportant details.

10-10-10-Rule

Also helpful is to ask yourself how you think about your decision in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. To do this, gather all the important aspects that are essential for decision-making and think about them in terms of their impact.

Ten years from now, will you be glad you made this decision? Will this decision get you where you want to be in ten years? These questions are especially important when choosing a career or partner.

Important: Some decisions here may feel wrong at first, but may be the right decision in the long run. This method will help you keep your goal in mind.

Distraction

Sometimes distraction is also a good decision-making aid, because when you are distracted, your subconscious can work in peace. So it can happen that you know all of a sudden which decision is the right one for you.

Try deliberately not to think about the various choices, but allow your subconscious time to deal with them. Instead, go on a city trip, go shopping, take a long walk, or go to the movies with your friends.

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