Decision Making

3 Strategies for Radically Better Decision Making

If you think about it, your decisions are the only things you are truly accountable for in your life. Everything you say or do is a result of a decision you have made.

In order to improve the quality and confidence you have in the decisions you make, as well as developing more trust in the decisions others make, consider the impact your emotions, vision and needs have on your decision making process.

Manage Your Emotions

Decision making is an emotional event. Emotions bog you down and cloud your ability to make good decisions. Medical science has shown that we make decisions emotionally, not rationally. The data behind this theory points to a small, almond-shaped part of the brain called the amygdala.

The amygdala receives the information before it is passed on to the cognitive part of your brain. The amygdala is primarily responsible for controlling our “flight vs. fight” responses.

Its purpose is to help us react quickly, without really thinking through the situation. This is good if you are confronted by a hungry tiger, but not so good if you are faced with deciding which job offer to take or any other life-changing event.

Based on this theory, science also suggests that 78% of what we think is wrong. Therefore, controlling your emotions and changing how you think is a big contributor to making better decisions. To do this, you must work on your emotional state. If you sometimes struggle with controlling your emotions, try these ideas:

  • When confronted with a decision, create a visual image of a blank slate. Your blank slate should be free of clutter or old thoughts and assumptions. Try not to allow any other thoughts or feelings interfere with this image. This blank slate represents your true starting point for making a proper and quality decision.
  • Pay attention to your body’s physical clues. Lower your voice, calm down and focus on not making any sudden moves. Stay in control to better control your ability to make a rational decision.
  • Don’t get too high, or too low, when confronted with a tough decision. Instead, try to visualize, in advance, the outcome of your decision. Consider what will be beneficial and what might be problematic.
  • Practice. Just like refining your golf swing, the more you do any thing the better you will become at doing it.

Create a Vision

Your decisions are also formed by your vision. When you see something, clearly and personally, your opportunity to make a better decision is improved.

Consider wearing seatbelts in your car. Many studies have proven, without a doubt, that wearing a seatbelt can dramatically improve your chances of surviving a car accident. So, why do some people ignore this? The answer may be they have not visualized the outcome of their decision.

If someone you know refuses to wear a seatbelt, ask what he or she think would happen if they were travelling down the highway at 70mph and hit a tree? Ask them to visualize what this would look like. Perhaps, a different decision would be made.

On a similar note, every year around the time for the prom our local high school puts a wrecked car in front of the building. The purpose for doing this is to give the administration the opportunity to show, or visualize, to the students what can happen if they drink and drive after the prom.

This technique is more powerful and effective than quoting statistics which may not be heard by the students. However, they do grasp what a wrecked car looks like and the tragic outcome of making the decision to drink and drive.

Control Your Needs and Neediness

Buying a new car is a difficult decision. More times than not, we become very needy when we smell the aroma of a new car. Car salespeople love needy people. The needier the potential customer is, the better the sales person chances are for making a sale – a much higher sale. Many times, when people are in the process of buying a car they get caught up with the emotional aspects of owning a car.

They believe they need to have all of the bells and whistles like an installed DVD player, leather seats and sun roof. These are really just wants, not needs, but their amygdala is kicking in and the person is about to fall in the 78% again.

When you are needy, you are in greater danger of making a bad decision. Others can sense this and may take advantage of you. Instead, replace your neediness with confidence. If you are not feeling particularly confident, step back and ask what a confident person would do in this situation. This will give you a path to follow.

Good decisions result from good choices. While you can’t control the choices others make, you are in full control of your choices and decisions. Use this knowledge as a source of empowerment and freedom. Better decisions do indeed lead to greater happiness and success.