how to make a decision

How to Make a Killer Decision in 10 Easy Steps

Should you buy the red dress or the black one? Should you sell your stock or wait? Do you buy a new car or make due with the old one? Can you say yes to this activity knowing it means saying no to that one?

Decisions. Decisions. They can drive us mad. We all face them everyday, but for some of us, making up our minds causes extreme anxiety. Why? Because we don’t trust our instincts, and we don’t believe we can make good decisions due to our past failures.

Maybe you’ve had someone making all your decisions for you for so long you feel inadequate. Or maybe your impulsiveness has resulted in some adverse outcomes and you’ve lost confidence in your ability to make wise decisions. Or maybe you just feel plain overwhelmed.

Whatever the case, if making a decision is hard for you, you’re not by yourself. You’re probably capable, but what you lack is a concrete formula to guide you through your decision making process. Here are a few tips to get you going in the right direction.

Killer decision makers always consider the following:


They look at the problem and evaluate the options.

This means breaking the problem down into bite size pieces and evaluating each scenario in light of possible options. It’s often helpful to make a list of pros and cons.

They gather information.

Do your research. Get as much information as possible before you make a decision. Ask yourself if the decision is congruent with your values and life goals.

They brainstorm possibilities.

List all possible solutions and outcomes. Create some viable alternatives for different scenarios.

They tap into their strengths.

Most people don’t even know what they’re good at. Take the time to learn your strengths and use them wisely.  Ability Potentials is a company that does just that and can help you zero in on your strengths and give you career suggestions.

They don’t act impulsively.

Don’t make decisions based on emotions or while you’re under stress or duress, your judgment will definitely be impaired. Be willing to wait and be patient. A rushed decision is often times not a great one

They plan for obstacles.

Life is unpredictable so plan on something going wrong. Create a “Plan B.”

They don’t let discouragement hold them back.

Everyone gets discouraged at some point, but don’t let it keep you from moving forward. Watch what you tell yourself. Your self-talk has a huge impact on your mood and feelings, so develop positive counter-statements to derail discouragement.

They don’t over-analyze.

Beating things to death keeps you stuck in your head. Over-thinking things can get you more confused. Once you’ve made a decision, relax and trust yourself.

They enjoy the ride.

Be willing to make the wrong decision. The worst that can happen is you learn and grow from your mistakes.

There are no guarantees when it comes to making the right decisions in life. The best we can do is approach our problems with the right attitude, evaluating each option and choosing a best course of action that seems reasonable for us at the time.

Then we can sit back and trust that we did all we could to achieve the set outcomes we desired. Remember, getting upset will only keep us stuck and unproductive. So relax, sit back and enjoy the ride!

Back at you: Have you had to make any difficult decisions lately, if so, what steps did you take and what advise can you offer?


Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Podcast and Consider This. Her shows can be heard on 90.9FM in Lynchburg, Va. and 90.5 FM in NC, and on BlogTalk Radio, Women’s Radio Network, and soon to launch with Truli Media Group. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family Magazine, Kyria and Living Better at 50. Her book on moving through the losses of life will be released in the Fall 2013 by Leafwood Publishers. Follow her at, on FB and twitter @heartlinepod. Her blog, Life Talk Today is

Photo credit: ‘Jigsaw‘ by Big Stock

36 Responses to How to Make a Killer Decision in 10 Easy Steps

  1. Champ says:

    Nice Post Rita !   liked all the point ..  Lately I am thinking of leaving my job and be with my family since I work in different city and also do crash course related to SAP ERP to get better job opportunity.   I am doing what if analysis like   what  if I work in same company for long which will not give growth to my carrier  but if do the course then down the line I will have good opportunity.   I am also considering that fact that I should have money for few month to spend if I am not on job.   

  2. Lena Ameri says:

    I love these tips because they make the point that everything is helpful in moderation. You mention to have a plan B, but also not to overanalyze. I think it’s really important to always remember that too much of anything can have a negative effect. I also love that you mentioned trusting yourself. So many of the time we know what is good for us and what we want, we just need to trust that we know what to do.

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  4. UpbeatBrain says:

    When it comes to making big decisions, fear holds back many people. You can fear failure, fear being wrong. I only fear failing to accomplish your last point: enjoy the ride. Lots of big decisions involve too many variables to figure them all out without just jumping in and trying the idea. So throw aside your fear, jump in and see what happens. You can always readjust along the way. 

  5. Dan Garner says:

    I think that for me the last one is key.  I am often worried about making a poor choice and do not choose at all.  I judge myself too harshly.  I’m going to have to use my best judgement and just enjoy the ride.


    Dan @ ZenPresence

  6. Justin Mazza says:

    So true Rita. The key really is to enjoy the ride as you stated here. Too often people get discouraged worrying they will make the wrong choice. Guess what? We all do and that is how we gain experience.

  7. Jo Ann Fore says:

    Great practical insight, Rita! Now, off to make some decisions…

  8. Clay says:

    That’s not an easy topic and you tackled the issue pretty well! 
    I’m glad you reminded not to act impulsively and make decisions based on emotions, many people mistake it with following their instinct. 
    To cope with the fear of taking wrong decisions, I try to tell myself that all decisions are right in the end, because no matter what it brings, we always learn something from it anyway.

  9. Rita Schulte says:

    Thanks for writing Champ. I’m glad you liked the post.

  10. Rita Schulte says:

    I’m glad the tips were helpful Lena. Overanalyzing use to kill me. Now I trust more.

  11. Rita Schulte LPC says:

    You are so right. Fear can keep us stuck, but if we have the attitude we can grow through facing our fears. Tnx for taking the time to write.

  12. Rita Schulte, LPC says:

    Yes Dan, even a poor choice will allow you room for growth. Tnx for commenting

  13. Rita Schulte, LPC says:

    You are so right on Justin. Do our best and forget the rest!

  14. Rita Schulte, LPC says:

    You go girl!

  15. Rita Schulte, LPC says:

    Your so right Clay, tnx for your comment and kind words.

  16. Jorge Blanco says:

    Wonderful post Rita. I particularly like the part about over-analyzing. That’s exactly what keeps us from making a decision. Not only that, it also takes up a lot of our time which we could’ve used to do something more productive.

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  18. Great post, Rita!  Sometimes I feel like every day I’m making a “big
    decision!”  I think the hardest part for me is focusing on one thing
    at a time. I get excited about ideas, and I forget to filter the
    results. Which is why I need to write on my mirror your tip not to
    “over-analyze!” and make sure you “enjoy the ride.” One thing that helps me do that is  reminding myself that I am not failing when I try something that doesn’t work out – I am experimenting for future decision-making.

  19. Tania Belkin says:

    Great post Rita.
    These are all great points, but the one really hit home with me is : ‘They don’t act impulsively’.  This is so true.  We always regret impulsive decisions.  Better to sleep on it:) 

  20. Helario says:

    Great Post. This has become the habit in me and I am not able to come out of it. I am facing anxiety issues and my decision making is becoming weaker day by day.

  21. Izmael Arkin says:

    Rita I think the point you brought up that resonates the most with me is: “They don’t over-analyze.”

    When I was younger I used to run into this problem a lot. In fact, I even wore it as a badge. I would say things like “I just can’t make a decision because I’m so analytical.”

    I acted like it was a good thing. Of course it wasn’t but at the time I didn’t understand that. A few years ago I was listening to an interview and the guy said “No decision is the same as deciding to do nothing.” It blew my mind. 

    It really made me step back and realize that my analysis had been killing me. 

    You bring up some fantastic points here :).

  22. Jjorgeruvalcaba says:

    Hello Rita your beautiful words like to me and me im I’m writing from mexico city very happy I’ll take your advise with joy

  23. Lucy says:

    As my family is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it’s more important now than ever to not act impulsively and rush into making bad or rash decisions. Perfect timing to be reading this post! Thanks.

  24. Rita Schulte says:

     Tnx for taking the time to comment Jorge. From one over analyzer to another!

  25. Rita Schulte says:

     Great way to think. We always learn and grow from the things we try. The key is to keep setting goals and moving forward. Tnx Stephanie.

  26. Rita Schulte says:

    Yes, sleep on it or seek some wise counsel. tnx Tania

  27. Rita Schulte says:

     Helario, you need to talk to someone if your anxiety is becoming increasingly debilitating. I have lots of helps on my site for anxiety. Don’t leave it unchecked. As a former anxiety sufferer, and a therapist, anxiety is so treatable, just don’t let it get out of hand. blessings

  28. Rita Schulte says:

     Thnx for taking the time to share Izmael. I was the same way and it’s so counter productive. All our ruminating stirs up anxiety and keeps us stuck. Glad you’ve noticed and are making changes.

  29. Rita Schulte says:

     So blessed it helped! tnx for writing mi amigo

  30. Rita Schulte says:

     Oh Lucy I’m so glad it was a good reminder. I hope you all are well and safe. We are in No Va and it wasn’t as bad here as we expected. My prayers go out to you!

  31. Dixie says:

    Such a valuable post, Rita!!!  A timely reminder of those things that deplete our energy of actually moving forward with God!!

  32. Rita Schulte says:

     Thnx Dixie!

  33. Great tips. One other idea you could consider: deliberately stepping away from a challenging decision to let your non-conscious abilities work on the problem can be valuable.

    “One group had to make a choice immediately. These people didn’t do very well at optimizing their decision. A second group had time to try to consciously solve the problem. Their choices weren’t much better. A third group were told the problem, then given a distracter task to do first — something that lightly held their conscious attention but allowed their non-conscious to do more work. This group did significantly better than either of the other groups at selecting the optimum car for their overall needs.To put it plainly, people who were distracted did better on a complex problem-solving task than people who put in conscious effort. That’s because stepping away from a problem and then coming back to it gives you a fresh perspective.”

  34. Rita Schulte, LPC says:

    Yep overanalyzing gets you nowhere.

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