We make so many decisions from menial things like what top to wear, what time to start our day, or how much milk goes into our coffee to important ones like which subject to major in or choosing our career. The choices we make bring meaning to our lives and give us the power to navigate them.
The way we decide, the factors that are involved in the process, and its effects are closely observed by different fields of study and disciplines like management, economics, and psychology. In psychology, decision making is “the cognitive process of choosing between two or more alternatives, ranging from the relatively clear cut to the complex”. It is based on cognitive processes like perception, understanding, memory, and judgment. There are different stages and techniques in decision making which are profoundly studied by different psychologists like Leon Mann, Pam Brown, and Krishna Guo.
Psychology sees decision making as a process that is often influenced by various factors like emotions, values, and beliefs of the decision taker, etc. The thought process and experience of humans grow and vary with time and hence with age, people tend to make better choices and avoid hasty decisions. A 10-year-old me would have preferred chocolate milk over a good book, a 13-year-old me would have chosen to play around over learning a new skill but now the 18-year-old me would definitely take the obvious and better decision in the same situation. With time, we learn what we, as individuals, need, and hence the emotional and intellectual maturity of the decision taker plays an important role in the process.
Although it is as natural and habitual to us as breathing, decision-making still brings a sense of doubt and thought with it. This is due to the weight of accountability on the shoulders of the decision taker and the repercussions of those decisions or because of the eclectic nature of humans that instigate uncertainty in a clear head. What if my interest changes in the future? What if I don’t earn as much as the others? What if …? It is because of this uncertainty of “what if” that confusion consumes our minds and causes us to overthink every action which may be detrimental to a successful life. Our confidence wavers and we lose sight of what is best for us. The decisions made with an unclear mind usually do not produce the best or desired results which cause further insecurity and have a potent effect on the mental health of a person.
This is why it is very crucial to make the right decisions at the right time with efficiency and effectiveness. Good decisions are the ones that are made with a clear, steady, and informed state of mind. We need to be aware of all the possibilities and consequences of what our actions may bring about and analyze them thoroughly before deciding on them. But as the saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth, too many opinions may dilute the significance of the decision to be taken.
Not letting your emotions influence you is another important factor for good decision making as our mind is fully immersed in what we feel, and this may exaggerate or exacerbate the situation which needs prompt decisions to be made. It is important to make sure we don’t dwell on our past mistakes or bad decisions and waste time regretting the ramifications it brings along. Instead, we need to learn from them and make the best possible use of what we choose for ourselves. Accepting the repercussions of our choices, both good and bad, make us better decision-makers.
Phil McGraw, popularly known as Doctor Phil says “Sometimes you make the right decision; sometimes you make the decision right”. We aren’t perfect creatures and it’s only human to make mistakes and fail. It is how we choose to persevere and utilize the opportunities before us to improve and grow that differentiates successful ones from others.
The choices we make in our life are the steering wheel to where we want to reach and have the power to make or break our dream. The decisions we take become the deciding factors of our lives.
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