Every single day of your life, you’re presented with decisions. While not all of these decisions are involved or life-changing, like deciding what to have for lunch or if you should take a nap or do your homework, they’re decisions you have to make nonetheless.
Other decisions, such as choosing a career path or deciding if college is for you, can be difficult ones to make. Unfortunately, honing your decision-making skills is essential to your success as a student and an adult. Don’t let this scare you.
Developing and improving your decision-making skills may seem like a daunting task, but when you take a step back and break down the process, it isn’t so scary at all.
At its core, making a decision involves having a good sense of understanding of how the different choices you make can change the outcome of a situation. It also involves weighing the costs and benefits of certain choices.
In short, making a decision involves being able to predict outcomes based on your decisions and being able to weigh the pros and cons of such choices.
You may be wondering how you can get better at predicting outcomes or judging the ramifications of your choices. Fortunately for you, we’ve picked the top three areas you can focus on in order to improve your decision-making skills. Read on to learn more.
#1: Don’t be Overconfident
Many young people are fooled by their overconfidence in the decision-making process.
It’s, unfortunately, one of the most common reasons why a decision made seems to not go the way you expected it to. In fact, it’s probably very likely that you’re overconfident about the steps that go into making a decision in general.
As such, the first step to improving your decision-making skills is to learn how to be less confident or less certain about everything.
While you may be inclined to believe that Choice A leads to Outcome A, there’s a good probability that it will not. Or, you may think that Outcome A will be better than Outcome B when that might not actually be the case.
You need to take a step back and ask yourself why you’re so confident the decision-making process will progress so linearly. Once you’ve done that, you can start to impose and revisit the logic of your decision-making.
Review the possibilities and outcomes made possible between your different decisions. Carefully think through why you believe Choice A would lead to Outcome A, and not Outcome B. Once you’ve revisited all the “what ifs” of a decision, you can proceed to make one.
This seems like a lengthy process, but when trying to master as important of a skill as decision-making is, it will take some time and practice. It might help to write out all the possibilities on a sheet of paper so you can truly track everything that may or may not happen.
#2: Be Realistic
When you’re forced to make a big decision that has consequences or opportunities you won’t see for weeks or years to come, it can be easy to be idealistic in your decision-making approach.
If you’re choosing a college to go to, you may think that choosing College A, even though it’s double the price of College B, is better, because you may be able to make a meaningful career connection at College A and land your dream job.
As human beings, it’s our nature to run to idealistic outcomes instead of facing harsh realities. When you read the logic behind the example just before, did you feel like the path of logic used was too good to be true? Unfortunately, it likely was. In some rare cases, decision-making can go that well. However, in the vast majority of cases, it doesn’t.
Basing big life decisions on the possibility that something can happen isn’t a secure way of doing things, nor is it a smart one. While dreaming of what could unfold is a way to remain positive, it’s not how you should make decisions.
That’s why it’s so important to remain realistic when you’re making decisions. One simple way to do this is to ask yourself how often does the outcome you’re hoping for actually happen.
This may involve doing outside research, but it will help keep you grounded. Again, it’s not inherently bad to hope that the stars and the moon will align because you picked Choice A over Choice B, but it’s not practical.
Keep a level head when making any and all decisions.
#3: Trust your Gut
Once you’ve made up your mind, it’s time to see the decision through. It can be so easy to second-guess yourself and go back on the decision you made, which often leads to negative consequences. Don’t go back on your decisions, as doing so will only lead to worry and self-doubt.
If you change your mind, you’ve also wasted all the time you’ve previously spent coming to a decision. So, in essence, instead of making a decision and acting on it, you’ve wasted time and come to no decision at all.
Often times, we’re too afraid of what’s going to happen as the result of a decision we make, and we spend lots of time worrying about it.
While spending time analyzing the problem or decision at hand, evaluating the possible outcomes and testing their probability, it’s worth nothing if you don’t trust your gut.
Moreover, trusting your gut and staying with your initial decision is a way to build your confidence as a decision-maker. In more cases than not, your initial decision will always be the best option for you.
By following these three steps, you will be well on your way to becoming better at making decisions, no matter how large or small.
If you find yourself struggling to make a major decision, don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends, loved ones or teachers. They are more than happy to help you make the best possible decision.