5 tips for Making Better Decisions

One major growth trap is decision making. Perhaps you have the dizziness of choice, or perhaps you’d rather someone else was responsible for the decisions (it wasn’t me … it was X who made me), or you defer and hold back from making a decision. Until you have a better decision making approach, you will be held back in your career, it will create problems in relationships, and you won’t know what to choose in life. Improving decision making means

  1. Knowing what you want
  2. Taking responsibility to make the decision
  3. Not getting trapped by false choices
  4. Knowing how to decide
  5. Checking that it’s a sensible decision (Not, I need a drink … and ending up the pub with dinner in the bin)

1. Know what you want

I. Stated in the positive, what specifically do you want?
2. Where are you now?
3. What will you have, see, feel, hear when you have it?
4. How will you know you will have it?
5. What will this outcome get for you or allow you to do?
6. Where, when, how and with whom do you want it?
7. What resources are needed?
8. What do you have now and what will you need to get there?
9. Have you ever done something similar in the past?
10. Do you know anyone who has?
11. Can you act as if you have it?
12. What is the context of the outcome?
13. What will you gain or lose by having this?
14. What will happen if you get it?
1S. What will happen if you DON’T get it
16. What will NOT happen if you get this?
17. What will NOT happen if you DON’T get this?

2. Take Responsibility to actively decide

Taking responsibility is taking a choice. Jean-Paul Sartre stated what you do and what you don’t do are your responsibility irrespective of what you should do. (Yalom, 1980): But we avoid responsibility because of:

  1. Compulsivity – we ‘had’ to do it
  2. Making someone else take our responsibility – like Adam and Eve
  3. Denial of responsibility – I am in the innocent victim or I lost control
  4. Inability to take decisions – e.g. procrastination or a coping mechanism

(Beattie, 2001) I am responsible:

  • To myself
  • For what I give and receive
  • To tend my spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial well-being
  • For setting and achieving my goals
  • For whom I love and how I express it
  • For how much pleasure I see in things
  • For what I do for others and ALLOW
  • For solving my problems
  • For my wants and desires

Thus, responsibility is the ability to respond. It is the gap between Trigger and Action. To take responsibility moves from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I won’t’ or ‘I don’t’ -to where you can work out what is really happening.

3. Don’t get fooled by false choices

The False Dichotomy

Firstly, get rid of the ‘false dichotomy’ – that there are only two options. Secondly get rid of the thought that ‘doing nothing’ is the least effort. Often ‘doing nothing’ is more costly and more harmful than other choices

Dialectic Thinking (AND) VS  Dichotomous thinking (BUT)
  • Flexible
  • Synergistic
  • Both I And
  • Me AND You
  • “What’s being left out!”
  • Willingness (Participate, reciprocity, open)
  • All or nothing
  • Black or White
  • Either I Or
  • Me OR You
  • Wilfulness (over control I passive)

Ways to increase options:

  1. Look back at core values and needs – how could these be delivered differently?
  2. Look at the other stakeholders – what would work for them AND for me
  3. Look for role models – what have others done, successfully.
  4. What are my assumptions that aren’t true?
  5. Any self-limiting beliefs
  6. Any vestiges of old family rules
  7. Any unnecessary social norms (e.g. people would suffocate on trains if they travelled to fast)

Find new solutions  – parts integration

(McCartney, 2014)

This is an NLP technique to understand two choices more fully and possibly reshape the solution. It can break the false dichotomy AND potentially find new solutions that you hadn’t considered:

  1. Put two ideas in front of you
  2. Ask each one what it the positive intention for you in wanting to have this. Find commonalities.
  3. Imagine them coming together with combined resources
  4. Bring your hands to the chest and bring the combined resource inside

4. Have a clear decision process

1 Prepare


  • Gather Data
  • Decide HOW to decide
  • Analyse
2 Incubate
  • Let the sub-conscious consider
  • Socialise the ideas & options
3 Illuminate


  • Get Insight
  • Make Choices
  • Watch for blame and logical fallacies
4 Verify
  • Visualise living with the solution
  • Test your gut feel – do I feel more relaxed or more anxious with that decision?
  • Coin flip test – select your decision on the flip of a coin. If it’s not what you really want, then you’ll ask to do ‘best of 3’
  • What’s the story?

5. Review that this is a safe – long term decision

(Dr Robert Anthony, 1994)

  • Is this a wise or unwise choice?
  • Will it contribute to my core needs?
  • Will it harm me or others?
  • What is the total price I must pay?
  • Is it in harmony with God’s purpose? (or your belief system)
  • Am I willing to accept the price and consequences?
  • What is a good result for each stakeholder?
  • What are our common values, beliefs or rules?