The 5 “Rules” of Good Decision-Making

I’ve made good decisions in my life. Like marrying my Lady. Like having kids. Like giving my life to Jesus. Like leaving my city of birth to come live in a new city. And the list goes on and on. Good decisions.

I’ve also made my share of bad decisions. Like following a few trouble-makers in high school. Like spending my money on baubles. Like wasting time watching too much TV and playing too much video games. And the list goes on and on. Bad decisions.

We make decisions day in and day out, some good, some bad. Decisions are the stuff life is made of. We can’t escape this: we must make decisions. And knowing the “rules” of good decision-making can really help us in our journey.

I share 5 of these “rules” here.

Rule 1: You Will Make Mistakes

So many people are paralyzed and refuse to make a decision for fear of making a mistake. And often, they fail to recognize that refusing to take a decision can snowball into a bigger mistake than choosing any of the options they had.

So many people want something more in their live but fail to take the needed decision to move their life forward.

For example, they want to reorient their careers and try something new, but they’re so afraid of making a mistake that they never make a move. They procrastinate and procrastinate and procrastinate until it’s too late and they feel regret.

Let me save you some time: You’ll make mistakes. Get over it. Not that you’re going to voluntary and proactively seek to make mistakes, but they will happen as sure as rainy days. Make the best decision you can with the information you have and in your current context and adjust along the way.

Rule 2: You Don’t Have to Figure Everything Out on Your Own

Why do you want to figure everything out on you own? There are people around you who have good judgment and have gone through a similar situation than the one you’re facing. They would be more than glad to share their experience with you and help you think through a decision you must make.

Trusted advisors can really help you in your decision-making process. For instance, they will push you to consider important elements you would otherwise neglect and will make you aware of some of the potential pitfalls associated with the various options you’re weighing.

Sometimes, simply sharing your thoughts with someone else helps you clarify your own perspective. It’s wise to leverage the experiences and expertise of others.

Rule 3: You’re Responsible

Your decisions are yours to make; you’re responsible. Never forget it. You can seek wise counsel (and you should), but don’t put your decisions in someone else’s hands. Your decisions are your burden to carry. Take ownership for them.

In the end, you have to live with the consequences of your decisions. If you decide to date a “jerk” because your friend convinced you that being cute was good enough a reason, you’re still the one who will be miserable and who will end up with her heart broken, not your friend.

You can’t blame anyone else; you’re responsible for the way your life turns out. Sure, you can try to blame your friends, your parents, your education, the government, or what have you. But no matter who or what you blame, you’re still the primary person who has to live with the results of your decisions.

Don’t hand over your decisions. Consult trusted advisors when you need to, but you have final say. Always.

Rule 4: You Must Think long-term

Too many people are shortsighted. They play the short game. They win the battle but lose the war because they fail to consider the long-term impact of their decisions.

Don’t sacrifice the long-term results for a short term gain.

Eating junk food daily is a decision that feeds your need for immediate gratification. But at what price? The long-term impact of this decision isn’t desirable. Conversely, deciding to workout regularly may be difficult in the short-term, but it has long-term benefits. As a general rule, “delayed gratification” leads to better decisions than “immediate gratification”.

Long-term perspective puts you in a frame of mind to make better decisions.

Rule 5: You must Take Action

“Decision-making” works hand in hand with “action-taking”. They are the two sides of the same coin. Once you made a decision, you must act on it. What is the point of making a decision that you have no intention of acting on?

It’s action that gives decisions their power. Without action, decisions are powerless and, quite frankly, a waste of time. You must follow-through.

Deciding to go to your workplace doesn’t get you there; driving there does (as in taking action). Make sure your decisions are backed by actions.

You’ll make decisions all your life. Every. Day. Of. Your. Life. The sooner you understand those 5 rules of good decision-making, the better.