How to Make Better Decisions

It was my birthday (YAY!) and I was running errands and getting ready to attend a celebratory dinner with a friend. I stopped by the mall and decided to peep into a designer store. This store was the one that I always peered into with wide eyes but never went in, because, I just know everything was out of my price range.  Not today. High on birthday gladness, I boldly walked right into the store and started looking at pieces. Just as I suspected, most of the clothing items were well out of my budget, like more than my rent out of my budget. However, I spied a pretty pair of wide leg pants and after inspecting the price, was shocked to see they were expensive but not expensive expensive like the other items. I tried them on and they fit perfectly, the sales women complimented me profusely and once I told them it was my birthday, they just exclaimed, Well you just have to get them, it is your day.” I began to think to my self, “you know what it is my day! I deserve these, I need them.” Never mind, I was saving money to pay down debt, I deserved those pants! So I bought them and walked out of the mall feeling triumphant.

Two weeks later, one of the seams in the pants came a loose, I got it fixed and then another seam came a loose and the pants turned into an utter tattered mess. I COMPLETELY regretted making such an emotional decision, can anyone relate to making such a poor emotional decision?

As human beings we make a lot of decisions each day, they are necessary and important, yet many of the decisions made are based on our emotions, how we feel at any particular moment. Basing decisions on our feelings is  an inherent problem because  feelings change from day to day, heck minute by minute! Emotional decisions can leave us with regret, emptiness and shame wondering, how did I get this so wrong??

The decisions we make leave clues about who we are and what we value. Decisions lead to habits, habits lead to a lifestyle and lifestyles do provide certain results in our lives, positive and negative. If you tell me about your decisions, I can learn what you value and prioritize where you place your self esteem and ultimately where you are headed. Ultimately, decisions point to the direction in which your life is headed and consequently, your destination. Decisions, not intention will lead your life.

So given the gravity of decisions, how do we make better ones?

GET SOME VALUES

Most companies have a mission statement as well as values that dictate the company operations, brand, people and vision. This mission statement is a beacon of light communicating priorities and vision to employees and customers alike. At companies that are really excelling you can ask any employee at random and he/she can say the mission statement without missing a beat.

You, my friend, are also a brand, a force in your own right and therefore, should have your own mission statement, your own values that you live your life by.

We all have values but have you given thought to them or even written them down?  If you are not sure where to start, think about what is most important to you? What principles do you live your life by? What wakes you up in the morning?

For me, my values are God over everything, purpose, loving people, joy and lightness. In my life when I encounter decisions, I put them next to my mission statement and and
I ask myself, will this exemplify loving God with all my heart, loving myself, loving others? Will this set people free in their mind, spirit and body? If the answer is no, the decision is easy. If I a m unsure then I need to seek God for answers. I have learned to be prayerful about many things, my purpose, who to hire? What to do on a daily basis? And even what to eat?

Line up every decision and compare it to your values, nothing is excluded, include friends, job opportunities, goals, activities, matters of the heart and everything between, and then, decide accordingly.

STAND ON A STABLE FOUNDATION

We have qualified, your emotions cannot be your barometer, they change too much, they are unsteady and not trustworthy. In contrast, you have to find something weighty, strong, stable and consistent to use as a foundation.

My foundation is God, Jesus and the Bible, it is stable when I am not. When I do not feel like forgiving someone, I read the Bible and decide to do it anyway. When I feel like worrying because I do not have control and am scared, I read the Word and it encourages me not to worry no matter what I face and to let it go. It pushes me beyond emotion to make decisions that align to the values I have set for myself. It is absolute.

CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF

There are decisions and habits so ingrained in our being, we have to do considerable digging and self reflection to change those decisions. Some decisions are so ingrained they are automatic like judging others or speaking negatively to yourself or even deciding to pursue something you have never done before.

Begin to ask yourself, why you do, what you do? Please note, this is not for the faint of heart, this is designed for those who understand the gravity of decisions and are focused on making thoughtful decisions that will lead them to their goals.

As you assess your decisions, you may trace them all the way back to your childhood. Maybe Mom taught you the best way to handle conflict is to ignore it so now you run from conflict and give excuses to yourself why you cannot face it. Maybe you told a love interest your feelings and he/she betrayed you, so now you keep your heart tucked away so no one can break it again. The decisions we make and the habits we conduct over and over again are often tied to past experience or hurts deeply ingrained in our psyche.

Recognizing the genesis of these roots is the first step and then taking action to address it. This can be done in counseling, using affirmations to start overcoming the fear and past hurts and letting God take the time to heal your heart. As you undergo the healing process, you will identify alternative actions for those that used to be automatic. When the decisions come, you will perceive it differently and in turn select differently. As you move towards better decisions, the outcomes will also change for the better.

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