Emotional Wellbeing


Mandy Kloppers

Decision Making – how to get good at it


What is involved in making good decisions? There is a certain amount of analysis involved but there is also the skill of listening to inner wisdom and intuition in making the right decision.

In a fascinating book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz argues that satisficers (Satisficers are those who make a decision or take action once their criteria are met) tend to be happier than maximizers (Maximizers want to make the optimal decision). Maximizers must spend a lot more time and energy to reach a decision, and they’re often anxious about whether they are, in fact, making the best choice.

Psychologist Daniel Gilbert, author of the bestseller Stumbling on Happiness, studies the cognitive biases that we use to make decisions. According to Gilbert, we do not make very rational decisions in most cases, nor are we particularly good at predicting what will make us happy. (See his great TED talk for more on this.)

Here are tips on how to make the most of decision making:

1) Weigh up the pros and cons

Do a risk analysis of either option and figure out which option is most likely to produce the results you’d like.

2) Don’t overthink it

“Analysis-paralysis” can set in if you agonise for too long over a decision. Do your homework and necessary research. Do a risk assessment and once you have all the info – get to it. Procrastinating makes it worse and self doubt begins to set in which undermines confidence.

3) Choose your battles wisely

Ask yourself if this decision is really that meaningful. If it’s not, stop obsessing over it, and just make a call!

4) Instincts

Trust your instincts when making decisions. Our inner wisdom is something many of us ignore when it can be a fantastic inner resource for guiding you.The best decision makers let the situation guide them. The more experience you have with a particular type of decision, the safer it is to go with your intuition, since your subconscious has a wealth of reliable information from which to draw.

5)Get a second opinion

By all means talk to others, especially those that are more knowledgeable regarding your decision. Do not rely on others though to make decisions for you.

6)Keep an eye on the bigger picture

Try not to get caught up in the moment and always keep an eye on the bigger picture – what you are trying to achieve long term is important.

7)Always have a back up plan

Having a plan B is always a good idea and helps to deal with failure if the original decision doesn’t turn out quite as planned. There is no foolproof method that guarantees you will make the right decision every time.

We’re constantly being told that we can find the best if we try hard enough, and that if we don’t, it’s our own fault,” says Barry Schwartz. “It’s a recipe for misery.” Too much choice not only makes a decision harder, he continues, but also makes it more likely that we’ll regret our selection. To improve our odds of reaching decisions we feel good about, Schwartz suggests figuring out ways to reduce the options to a more manageable number.”

Good enough is often good enough!

Mandy X