Good Decisions Made Simple

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat do you want for breakfast? I’m buying. (This is obviously rhetorical. My wife might have something to say about my offering to buy breakfast for the entire internet.) Here are your choices: cold pepperoni pizza, egg-white omelet with fruit salad or Boston creme donuts.

Not much of a choice is it? Making this kind of decision is a no-brainer. Unless of course you’re like me and donuts have an almost mythical power over you. 

But have you ever stopped and thought about the power of decisions? Every one you make embodies the entirety of our free will. We can decide what we want to do with our lives, what our calling is, who we want to spend our life with, and yes, even what we’ll have for breakfast. Of course all this power is exactly the problem. We know how important many of our decisions are and therefore we procrastinate, put off and delay as much as possible.

What we need is a strategy. Something simple and straightforward that will allow us to tackle any decision that comes our way. This strategy should be flexible enough to help us decide what to wear tomorrow while still being valuable when it comes time to decide on a big career move.

Luckily, such a strategy exists in Edward Packard’s short but informative book, All It Takes: The Three Keys to Making Wise Decisions and not Making Stupid Ones. Don’t let the irreverent title throw you off, what Packard explains is a simple strategy that will give you something to fall back on no matter what decision faces you.

While you’ll want to check out the book for all the details, here are the three keys in brief.

1. Have the right state of mind. Don’t make decisions when you are overly emotional. Most of us realize that the time to make a big choice isn’t when we are angry, however, it is just as important not to be overly excited either. Emotions are a powerful thing. Get them under control and then think rationally about the choice in front of you.

2. Think clearly. Make sure that you use all the tools at your disposal. Don’t make your decision based on what you think others want of you, or what you think the “experts” would advise. Instead do some critical thinking of your own. Something as simple as a pros and cons list can go a long way towards showing you the best decision.

3. Keep decisions under surveillance. This is an important, but often overlooked, aspect of all the choices we make. Allow yourself to occasionally be wrong, and when you realize it, change your mind. Just because it seemed like a good and solid decision last year, doesn’t mean you have to stay a slave to it now that you have given it your best shot.

Can I guarantee every decision you make using this strategy will lead you to happiness and success? Of course not. But what I can guarantee is that they will be decisions that you go into with your eyes wide open to both the benefits and possible downfalls.

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