Making Better Decisions

by | Mar 12, 2002

How to make better decisions — big and small? Here are some tips. 1. Assume certainty is possible. You’re certain the sky is blue. You’re certain where you’re standing or sitting right now is where you’re standing or sitting. You can therefore be certain of many other things too, including more complex things. 2. Don’t […]

How to make better decisions — big and small? Here are some tips.

1. Assume certainty is possible. You’re certain the sky is blue. You’re certain where you’re standing or sitting right now is where you’re standing or sitting. You can therefore be certain of many other things too, including more complex things.

2. Don’t require absolute certainty if it’s not immediately possible. Strive for certainty, but settle for as much as you can if circumstances limit you.

3. Don’t allow circumstances to limit you if they don’t have to do so. For example, it’s one thing to accept the absolutism of, say, the weather, or the absolutism of the fact that the person offering you the job truly does need someone to start next month. However, unwarranted or unjustified pressure from other people — especially due to an unhealthy desire to control you, or their perception that you owe them something even if you don’t — is a whole different story. Be attentive to what your choices really are, and act accordingly.

4. For the time period that you do have to make the decision, allow yourself to go back and forth. Rationally vacillate. Feel what you would feel if you decided one way; then feel what you would feel if you decided the other way. Try the decision on for size. If the decision involves a move, try to visit the new location and drive around not as a tourist or visitor, but as if you live there. Pretend you’re doing ordinary everyday things rather than vacation things. If visiting is not possible, do something like purchase the city’s newspaper, or go to websites in that part of the country, and get a sense for what life would be like there.

5. If it’s a tough choice, don’t become disheartened. If one choice were clearly unpleasant and the other pleasant, the choice would be obvious. Since the choice is not obvious, there must be pleasant and positive aspects no matter which way you go. Remind yourself you’re going to experience one set of those benefits for sure, no matter what.

6. Once you have made the final decision, expect “buyer’s remorse.” Buyer’s remorse refers to a feeling of regret immediately after buying a new property (e.g. house or car), a regret which generally does not prove consistent with one’s later enjoyment of the new property. This kind of experience frequently happens after any decision, not only with a house or a car. Don’t be thrown by it, or make a rash decision to reverse course based only on it.

7. Be careful about advice from others. It’s fine to listen to others, but remember — they are not you. You are you. If someone says, “You should do X,” without giving a reason — be highly wary. If someone says, “I would do X,” and gives a reason, this still might not be your reasoning, or correct reasoning. If someone who knows you well says, “I know you. You like such-and-such. Therefore I think you would enjoy this decision the most,” take a pause. Consider this; but still don’t let this be the final say. Remind yourself that you are in the driver’s seat of your own life. This is not merely an opinion; this is an objective fact. You — and those very close to you, such as spouse/children, possibly close business associates — are the ones affected by your decision, and the only ones to be considered.

8. If a deadline is not imposed on you, then impose one on yourself. Otherwise your rational vacillation will turn into ruminating anxiety, and you may make the wrong decision — or, worse yet, feel like you made the wrong decision even if you made a good decision.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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