Life is full of choices. You make choices every day, from picking out an outfit to choosing what you want to eat for lunch. As you go through life, your brain gets into the habit of making decisions about simple things, and eventually those decisions become routines. For example, you don’t necessarily choose to put on your pajamas before bed; you just do it.
Decisions get tough when you have to make them about the unknown. Remember when you first had to make your class schedule and choose your electives? It was kind of tricky because you had never had to do that in the past. When it comes to decision making and becoming an adult, you get plenty of opportunities to practice, but the choices get tougher.
How do you deal when there’s a particularly tough choice or moving forward seems impossible? You need to know how to make good decisions and learn to prepare for the unexpected with good time-management skills.Good decision making starts now
How often do you go with your gut feeling or intuition? How do you know that you can trust your gut? Intuition is a powerful tool that comes from experience and the results of past decisions. While going with your gut may work out if you’ve got nothing else to go on, there’s a better way: pause, evaluate and anticipate.
A good decision, according to time-management expert Peter Turla, is one that enriches you or society; it benefits the greater good. Making good choices starts with knowing when you’re faced with a decision instead of being in auto-pilot mode. Shari McGuire, author of “Take Back Your Time: 101 Simple Tips to Shrink Your Work-Week and Conquer the Chaos in Your Life,” explains, “In every second, (you) have a choice on how (you’re) going to spend (your) time, and you alone are responsible for that choice.” When you acknowledge that you can do this or that, your brain has a moment to evaluate the choices, remind you of past mistakes and avoid leaping to disastrous conclusions.Pause
Most of the decisions that you make in life don’t have to be instant ones. When faced with a decision, especially an important one, pause and take a look at the choices you face. The ultimate choice you make should align with the goal you want to achieve.Evaluate
It’s okay to say, “I need to think about it.” There’s no reason to rush to a conclusion if you don’t have to. Turla advises that when you are faced with a decision, it is wise to take a look at all your choices and evaluate their possible consequences and outcomes—the pros and cons—a process known as the Benjamin Franklin technique. It’s also a good idea to ask someone who has faced a similar challenge for guidance. With practice, you’ll learn to make good decisions quickly and gain the wisdom to know which need a longer pause.
On the other hand, quick decisions can come in the form of choosing what to do this weekend to taking action when a sibling is injured and needs your help.Anticipate
McGuire shares that “when you take responsibility for your choices, you will over time make better and better (ones).” Sometimes you know ahead of time that you’re going to have to make a big decision or a lot of fast decisions in the future. By preparing for them ahead of time, you’ll react appropriately and won’t feel rushed or overwhelmed.
An example of a big decision that you’ll face is choosing what to do after high school. After making a list of the choices that are best for you, narrow it down to one. Then use good time-management skills to achieve that goal.
When you think about your future and foresee important decisions that you’ll have to make in a limited amount of time, run through and evaluate the possible choices ahead of time.Don’t always follow your heart
When making a decision, don’t just follow your heart. Get your head and gut involved, too. Turla explains that when your emotions get involved in decision making, don’t neglect instinct and logic. Figure out what your feelings and instincts are trying to tell you, and determine if those options are really the best and most relevant. Then use your experience and logic to process all the choices that your head, heart and gut give you. Evaluate which choice sits the best with all three and aligns with your ultimate goal.Making mistakes
Not all the decisions that you make will be the right ones. It’s okay; it happens to everyone. What counts is what you do with the knowledge that you gain after making a mistake, according to Turla. Sometimes you’ll find that mistakes open doors to better opportunities or teach a life lesson that you wouldn’t have otherwise received. Don’t downgrade mistakes to negative marks in your personal history book. Instead, use them as a catalyst for change.
“Wisdom sometimes comes from bad decisions,” Turla observes. To learn from your mistakes, you have to pay attention to them. Evaluate what you did right and what went wrong. Consider all the factors that led to the consequence. Determine what you can do the next time a similar situation occurs to make the outcome better.