Are you a good decision maker?
Decisions, decisions, decisions. It seems like every time we turn around, we have to make more decisions. The question is, "Are you a good decision maker?" If you aren't (or don't think you are), there is no need to worry. Decision-making is a skill that can be learned by anyone. Although some people may find this particular skill easier than others, everyone applies a similar process. There are two basic kinds of decisions: those that are arrived at using a specific process and those that just happen. Although both kinds of decisions contain opportunities and learning experiences, there are definite advantages to using a specific process to make a decision. The most obvious advantage is the reduced level of stress you will experience. Wise decisions are made using a definite process. They are based on the values and perceptions of the decision-maker and include carefully-considered alternatives and options along with periodic reassessments of the decision and its effects. Wise decisions may or may not follow societal norms and expectations, but they are right for the decider based on what he/she knows at that point in time about his/her options as well as him/herself.
Ten Steps to Wise Decision-Making
This process can be applied to any situation where you need to make an important decision. If you follow these ten basic steps, you will find yourself making wiser decisions in your professional as well as your personal life.
1. Define, as specifically as possible, what the decision is that needs to be made. Is this really your decision or someone else's? Do you really need to make a decision? (If you do not have at least two options, there is no decision to be made.) When does the decision need to be made? Why is this decision important to you? Who will be affected by this decision? What values does this decision involve for you?
2.Write down as many alternatives as you can think of. Brainstorm as many different alternatives as you can imagine. Let your imagination run free and try not to censure anything; this is not the time to be judgmental. Just be sure to write everything down.
3.Think where you could find more information about possible alternatives. If you only come up with a few alternatives, you may want to get more information. Additional information generally leads to more alternatives. Places where you can look for the information you need include friends, family, clergy, co-workers, state and federal agencies, professional organizations, online services, newspapers, magazines, books, and so on.
4.Check out your alternatives. Once you have a list of alternatives, use the same sources of information to find out more about the specifics of each option. You will find that the more information you gather, the more ideas will pop into your head. Be sure to write these down and check them out too.
5.Sort through all of your alternatives. Now that you have your list of alternatives, it is time to begin evaluating them to see which one works for you. First, write down the values that would come into play for each alternative. Second, look for the alternatives which would allow you to use the greatest number of your values. Third, cross the alternatives off the list which do not fit into your personal value framework.
6.Visualize the outcomes of each alternative. For each remaining alternative on your list, picture what the outcome of that alternative will look like. Here, too, it helps if you write out your impressions.
7.Do a reality check. Which of your remaining alternatives are most likely to happen? Cross off those alternatives that most likely will not happen to you.
8.Which alternative fits you? Review your remaining alternatives and decide which ones feel most comfortable to you. These are your wise decisions. If you are very happy about a decision, but are not as comfortable with its possible outcome, this is a clue that this is not a wise decision for you. On the other hand, you may dislike an alternative, but be very excited about the possible outcome. This decision would probably not be wise for you either. If you feel you can live with both the alternative as well as the possible outcome, this is the wise decision you should follow.
9.Get started! Once you have made your decision, get moving on it. Worrying or second-guessing yourself will only cause grief. You have done your very best for the present; you always have the option of changing your mind in the future. Remember, no decision is set in stone.
10.How is it going? Be sure to review your decision at specified points along the road. Are the outcomes what you expected? Are you happy with the outcomes? Do you want to let the decision stand or would you like to make some adjustments? If the decision did not come out the way you planned, go through the complete decision-making process again. In the process, answer the following questions: Did I not have enough information? What values actually came into play? Were they my values or someone else's? Remember, you can always change your mind! <
**The above content is provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information go to www.sba.gov.