12 Ways To Make Better Decisions

Updated June 24, 2022

With most things you do, especially at work, you are likely to go through a decision-making process. Over time, you should develop the skills for making better decisions based on past experiences and any newfound knowledge. There are still steps you can take to learn how to make better decisions for yourself, your future and your workplace. In this article, we explore 12 ways you can make better decisions.

Read more: Decision-Making Skills: Definition and Examples

Why is it important to make better decisions?

It's important to make better decisions for many reasons including having a greater sense of self, learning from experiences, standing out from your coworkers, increasing your confidence and showcasing yourself as a professional.

12 tips for how to make better decisions

Here are 12 things you can do to make better decisions:

1. Try not to overthink

Every decision should come with some thinking as you weigh the pros, cons, consequences and all the available options, but overthinking can keep you from being able to make a final decision. It's important to be able to come to a conclusion without too much time spent evaluating everything. Overthinking can cause you to make a decision you might not normally have made and cause you undue stress at the same time.

The more you overthink, the more likely you are to bring doubt into your decision-making process, which can become a pattern and affect future decisions you have to make. If you're struggling with your decision, take a step away from it and return when your mind feels more clear.

2. Take care of yourself

Your sleep and water intake can affect your mental clarity and focus and impact your decision-making capabilities. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night. To achieve this, try to stop using electronics right before bed and consider a white noise machine to help lull you to sleep and keep you there. During the day, drink eight glasses of water. You may find it easier to drink if you keep a water bottle next to you at all times. If you struggle with drinking water, try to put fruit in your water to make it more enjoyable.

3. Remove yourself from the situation

If you want to be a better decision-maker, it can be helpful to allow yourself to be an outside observer of the situation. When you do, you're more likely to think about all your other options and even be more open to considering compromises, which can be especially helpful when your decision impacts others. Sometimes there are a lot of emotions involved in the decision process, and removing yourself from the situation for even a short period of time can help you refocus and look at the facts of what's in front of you.

4. Don't shy away from your mistakes

One of the best ways to make better decisions is by facing your mistakes and learning from them. Making mistakes isn't necessarily a negative thing, as they can give you more confidence in your abilities to make decisions in the future based on your experiences.

Read more: Steps to Take After Making Mistakes at Work

5. Examine the opposite of your decision

Before moving forward with what you feel is your final decision, make sure you've considered the complete opposite. It's important to be sure of your decisions, so by examining other options, you can gain confidence that you're making the right decision or come up with different choices that you may not have thought about. When you challenge yourself, you're also challenging any long-held beliefs you've had that may have clouded your past decisions. Examining choices helps you to make well-rounded decisions and grow as a decision-maker.

6. Ask for feedback

There is a delicate balance you should be cautious of when asking for feedback during your decision process. Some feedback can be highly valuable, especially if it comes from people who have been in your same situation and can tell you about their outcome or who you admire for their experience and knowledge about a particular topic. It's also effective to ask for feedback from those who you will directly affect by your decision, as they will be better able to give you the perspective you may not have yet.

However, too much feedback can make your decision even harder by giving you too many differing opinions that you may have a hard time juggling.

7. Give yourself advice

To make better decisions, pretend like you're giving advice to a friend on how to proceed. By doing this, you're removing yourself from a situation enough to be more objective in your decision. It can be a lot easier to advise a friend than to decide without it, plus you may find that you're kinder to yourself and are more positive about your role in making important choices.

8. Manage your emotions

Emotions should play a role in your decision making, but it becomes necessary to make sure you're acting with emotional intelligence if you want to make better decisions. Just like there is a delicate balance to asking for feedback, it's the same for managing your emotions. Too much emotion can cloud your judgment, causing you to make decisions that you may not have if you were thinking more rationally.

This applies to both positive and negative emotions, too. For example, if you are overly excited about something, you don't want to make rash decisions based on your excitement rather than based on how this item will look when put into practice.

9. Weigh short- and long-term consequences

Nearly every decision has short- and long-term consequences, and it's important to think about both when you're coming to a conclusion. What may look like a great short-term decision may not be wonderful when looking at the long-term perspective, and vice versa.

Also, be sure to explore decisions that can cause some disorganization or discomfort in the short-term, but have very beneficial long-term benefits that make everything well worth it. For example, if a manager decides to restructure the office, you may feel displaced as it forces the team to work elsewhere while the office is under construction, but once it's complete, you can be happy with a cohesive office space that promotes teamwork and open communication.

10. Accept the possibility of making a poor decision

Being a better decision maker involves being willing to take risks and know that not every decision you make is going to be the best one. This possibility is something to come to terms with so that you feel confident in deciding in the first place. A benefit to knowing that there is the possibility that your decision isn't the right one is that you are more open to having a contingency plan in case things don't go right.

11. Stay true to your values

When you stay true to your values during the decision-making process, it should be easier to see the path in front of you, basing your decisions on your goals and where you see a situation going in the long-term. Plus, staying true to your values gives you confidence and helps you accept your decision even when things don't work out as you were hoping.

Read more: 6 Steps to Discover Your Core Values

12. Use data

For informed decisions that you can present to your manager, use data when available. Data and analytics reports can help you make decisions based on history, trends and projections. Data helps you understand how processes have worked in the past and produce actionable insights that you can use to your advantage.

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