Welcome to part two of the “Improve Your Decision Making” series. If you skipped out reading on part one, you can find it here. In the second half of this series I will teach you two more skills you can use to improve you ability to make good decisions and avoid later encountering regret. I will also give you a few bad decision making habits to look out for so you can avoid relying on them as your primary technique.
Consider the Long Term Consequences
This goes into a similar category as defining the pros and cons, but is more focused upon visualizing the outcome of the decision. It’s always important to consider any long term implications of the choice you plan on making. More often I see people focus on immediate gratification which often leads to regrets. Choosing the path of least resistance does not take long term consequences into account and will often lead to unexpected results. Always consider the long term implications of your decisions.
Consider the Impact of the Decision
In addition to identifying the long term consequences, it’s also important to consider how the various options will impact those around you or closest to you. This includes thinking about how the choice will impact your family, your friends (if applicable), you career, health, spousal relationships, you name it. Think of all the different ways the decision will impact you.
Use Peer Support
Everyone has heard of peer pressure. Peer support is the opposite of peer pressure. It’s common for people to those who make good decisions to seek advice from others who do the same. However, the key is to take advice into consideration when making your choice, not specifically do exactly what someone else tells you to. If the people you are around only seem to be giving you bad advice or trying to bring you down, perhaps it’s time for a look at who you hang around with. Don’t let others choose for you. Listen to advice and consider it when determining the best course of action.
That being said, if you don’t have anyone around you so provide advice, seek out an expert to help you. This doesn’t have to be some official business affiliate or doctor, etc. It only has to be someone who you believe is an expert in the area you feel you may be lacking. Again, this is a tool to make a better overall decision, not to take the advice of every John Doe who gives it out.
What To Watch Out For
There are a few strategies you really want to watch out for that may not have been covered in the previous sections. For example, choosing a certain path because you know it is the opposite of the advice you received from someone you trust is called oppositional defiant decision making. It’s a terrible strategy that typically goes against your own better judgement, but is done to make the point that “you can’t tell me what to do.”
Vindictive decisions are those that are made with the specific intent to hurt someone else. I know you’re thinking you would never do such a thing, but the kicker is, most people are not above such strategy. For example, say you got angry with your significant other for not taking out the trash. You then decide you are going to skip washing his clothes for the week to make it known you are upset with him. This type of strategy only causes resentment between people and is not healthy nor beneficial.
Some people also make poor decisions because they believe they don’t deserve any better. This type of person could have a lot of guilt or shame, or maybe they don’t think very highly of themselves. Whatever the reason, this type of strategy is indicative of unhealthy coping skills and is not only a poor decision making strategy, but should probably be treated by a mental health professional. Being miserable is not a requirement.
Most people who make good decisions use a variety of the positive decision making skills and little to no poor decision making strategies. Also remember, you are not relegated to choosing the same strategies for every situation. Vary your strategies for the situation you are in and be open to learning and practicing something you’re not familiar with. The only way to rid yourself of the the habitual use of poor strategies is to continue practicing positive strategies in place of the old.
What types of strategies do you use? Is there a helpful strategy you use that I missed? Leave me a comment below!