What is decision making?
Decision making is simply about choosing between options that are before us. We make decisions every day, right? What to eat, what to wear, where to go, what to say. Sometimes we make good decisions and sometimes we make bad decisions. Some are big, some are small. And they can have massive consequences, or may be of no real importance at all.
But that doesn’t mean we should over look the importance of what can potentially be the most important skill you’ll ever develop.
- What is decision making?
- Common reasons why you might feel indecisive
- What you can gain from practicing making a quick and decisive decision
- Decision making for kids and teens
- Decision making quotes for inspiration!
And why is it so important?
So which ones are important, which ones matter? The thing is, they all do really. The small decisions we make are good practice for the bigger ones. And the decisions we make when we are young, set us up for the decisions we need to make as we get to adulthood. Like a muscle in our body, the more we exercise it and build muscle memory, and stretch and strengthen it, the stronger our decision-making muscle gets. So when the harder decisions come up later, we are better prepared for them.
The 7 steps in decision making
1. Identify the decision.
This is an important step for two reasons. First you need to know that a choice has to be – otherwise you can’t move on to the next steps. But secondly, it’s important that you understand what the decision is. And this is exactly why it’s good to frame the decision clearly when you are teaching your kids to make a choice. Asking them what they want to do that afternoon can be too daunting if they haven’t had practice yet – it’s much easier for them to decide between going to the park or going to pool.
2. Gather information.
Look at the information you already have at hand. Is it enough to make the decision with? Do you need to do more research or ask more questions? Think about what factors you need to know before you can determine your options.
3. Determine your possible choices or solutions.
Some options may already be obvious, and others you might need to be creative with. You could talk with a trusted friend and see what options they think are available to you. You might have overlooked something!
4. Consider the impact of each choice.
What are the consequences? Use your imagination to follow through to the outcome of each option. Is it what you have initially thought? Are there consequences that might impact your decision? Are there pros and cons to each option? It can help to write these down as you work through each option.
5. Make a choice.
That’s right! Time to make a decision. And trust that you have enough information, knowledge and experience to make the best choice for your situation. If you simply don’t have enough information, go back to step 2.
6. Take action.
A real decision is measured by the fact that you have taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.Tony Robbins
Not only does taking action cement your decision quickly, so you can move on, but it also affirms that you have confidence in your own decision making skills. You’re not going to hang back and hedge your bets a bit, leaving another door slightly ajar. You actually trust that you can make a good decision.
7. Review the outcome
Was it what you expected? In hindsight, was it a good choice? If it was, allow this to build up your confidence in your decision making. If not, learn from your mistakes and move on. Never dwell on a poor decision. Yes, you have to live with the outcome, and certainly if you can improve the outcome then you should. But don’t look back. You’ll only create doubt in your ability and damage your self confidence.
Be confident. Be bold!
The man of decision cannot be stopped. The man of indecision cannot be started. Take your own choice.Naploeon Hill
What if you make the wrong decision?
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is the wrong thing.Theodore Roosevelt
No one is perfect. Not me, not you and unfortunately, not our kids. 🙂
It is simply not possible to make it through life without making a poor decision. And frankly, it’s what makes us human. Our emotions can sometimes take over, or we might be run down and not quite firing on all cylinders and we make a bad call.
And you know what? It’s totally ok. What we don’t want to do, is ignore it or refuse to acknowledge that maybe we could have done better. You won’t learn from your mistake and learn to make better choices that way. And you might paint yourself into a corner if you feel forced to stand by a misguided decision.
The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.Maimonides
Common reasons why you might feel indecisive
- You’re worried that you’ll make the wrong decision
- You’re worried someone else won’t like your decision, or that they won’t agree with it
- You genuinely don’t feel like you know the right decision
- Maybe you believe more information might come to light and you’ll regret your decision
- You don’t like making decisions – you rely on those around you to make decisions on your behalf
- If you just can’t make a decision, you might be giving the decision more importance than it deserves. Sometimes you don’t need to spend a large amount of time weighing up your options, or researching all the pros and cons.
What you can gain from practicing making a quick and decisive decision
Self confidence. And faith in yourself, faith in your own capability and intuition.
Along with developing logical thinking and good problem-solving skills, making a confident decision will help you tackle some of the more difficult things you face in life. Big decisions around moving city, or country, changing your job or even when you’re faced with an ethical dilemma.
You’ll learn that it really is ok to make a mistake. A bad decision can certainly have significant consequences, but if you’ve been practising the basic decision-making step outlined above, you’ve probably done the best you could in the circumstances. And that’s ok. Learn from your mistakes and add them to your little toolbox of help when the next decision comes along.
Decision making for kids and teens
Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.Alfie Kohn
When young children are first learning about choices – you need to keep it simple and defined. As I mentioned above, open ended decisions like “what do you want to eat for dinner?” can be too big. Try limiting the options to two, and make it clear what the options are.
This also helps when they are dragging their feet a bit. If your little one doesn’t want to leave the house to go to the supermarket, giving them choices can help them feel like they have some control over the situation. (Just be careful the choices you give them still get you the outcome you want!).
Check out these examples:
I need to drop some books off at the library. Should we go the library before or after we’ve picked up the groceries?
We need to go to the supermarket to get dinner. Should we buy fish fingers or sausages for dinner tonight?
And once you’ve cracked the easy decisions…
And the kids are getting a bit older, allow them to identify what the options are. Give them plenty of opportunity to practice the seven steps of decision making, and talk through the steps with them. Offer advice if they want it, and support their decision.
It’s important that you let them make their own decisions. As they get more experience, and as you see them following these steps, you’ll both develope confidence in their ability to make a good decision when you’re not there to help.
For more reading on this, Very Well Family also offers some guidance for helping teens develop good decision making skills. And alternatively, you can read why teens make bad decisions at ‘The Conversation’.
Decision making quotes for inspiration!
And because we all need a little inspiration, here are some quotes to remind you, and inspire you, of the importance of decision making.
Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever. – Keri Russell
Don’t make a permanent decision for your temporary emotion. – Anon
Decision making, like coffee, needs a cooling process. – George Washington
It’s in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. – Tony Robbins
It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. – Roy Disney
What is the secret of success? Right decisions. How do you make right decisions? Experience. How do you gain experience? Wrong Decisions. – Abdul Kalam
Nothing happens until you decide. Make a decision and watch your life move forward. -Oprah Winfrey
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. – Nelson Mandela
Those who reach decisions promptly and definitely, know what they want, and generally get it. – Napoleon Hill
2 thoughts on “Learning the art of decision making (and how to teach it to your kids too!)”
Thanks for the blog article. Really thank you! Keep writing. Corabelle
Glad you liked it. Thanks for dropping by!