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How to Make a Great Decision... Every Time

13/08/2014 15:30 BST | Updated 13/10/2014 10:59 BST

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Life is made up of a million decisions. Some of them are big decisions, like whether you want to have children, and what you want to do for a living, and others are little decisions, like what to have for breakfast, or what to watch at the cinema this Saturday.

And our life is the result of all these decisions. Which makes consciously making decisions, and being good at making these decisions a vital skill. But a vital skill that no school or parent ever really teaches us.

Like many of you I've always been good at making decisions....... when I know what the answer is. I trust my instincts, I'm impulsive and I go with it.

But, more times than not, I just don't know what to decide. I don't know what the best thing to do is. I'm stuck. In no man's land. With no idea where to go or what to do. And it's these really hard decisions that are often the most important. And it's because they are so hard to make that we often try not to make them at all. We let someone else do it for us. Or we leave it so long until there is no longer any decision to be made. We wait until the right answer, the right decision becomes so obvious we can't get it wrong. So we can't fail. But then the decision has gone.

It's out of our hands. And we're at the mercy of the resulting option. No longer in control. No longer empowered to sculpt and create our own lives.

And of course it doesn't have to be this way. There are things that we can do to ensure that we know how to put ourselves into the best position possible to make the best decision possible.

I'm going to share with you the strategy that I have developed and always try and use every time I have to make a really difficult decision.

And now, instead of retreating, procrastinating, or ignoring the decision I launch myself at it full throttle. Because I know that I want to be the person making the decisions about my life.

Because I know that no one else can make these decisions for me. And because I know I need to be in control so that I am creating the success that I want to create for my own life.

Knowing how important your decisions are, and how to approach the decision making process will arm you with everything you need to know to make decision making as simple, easy and effective as possible.

So let's look at:

HOW TO MAKE A GREAT DECISION

1) Make sure you are in a positive state or completely unemotional when you make your decision.

Your frame of mind is an essential determinant of how a particular decision will pan out when it's made. This is because decisions are state and context dependent. If you make a decision when you're in a negative state, annoyed, anxious, angry, upset, depressed or unhappy, it is likely that the decision you make won't be the best decision for you.

However, if you make a decision when you're in a positive state, motivated, happy and at peace, it's much more likely that the decision will serve you better and produce a more positive outcome.

So become conscious of your state before you make an important decision. If you're in a negative state - put off making the decision until you are in a more positive state.

2) Look at the long term effects of the decision; what will be the outcome in a week, a month, a year?

Having that extra piece of cake might be a great decision for now - it tastes good, it will satisfy your hunger, it will satisfy your sugar cravings - but is it good for your long term weight loss goal? Probably not.

Make sure that you're making decisions for your long term plans and not for instant gratification.

You need to make decisions and act today for the life you want in the future. This often means making big sacrifices in the short term.

3) Identify how you feel about each decision; what does your gut tell you. Instinct. Gut reaction. Whatever you call it - sometimes we just know what decision to make. This feeling, this reaction, is our subconscious at work. Our subconscious has made the decision and we're aware of it before our conscious mind has rationalized and been able to verbalise why this decision has been made

Learn to listen to your feelings and your instincts - because these will often be the best decisions you ever make.

4) Learn from your past experience. Your past experience will inform your decisions. You have made a million decisions before. Getting up in the morning, is a decision. Some of these decisions were good decisions. Some were bad decisions. And these decisions have made you who you are.

Learn from the decisions that you have made in the past, what they have taught you and use all of these experiences to inform the decisions that you are making today and going forwards.

5) Make more decisions. The more experience you have at making decisions the better you will be at them. Making decisions can be quite daunting, particularly if you're not a very assertive person. But the more practice you get at making them, the better you will become.

Consciously realize when you are making decision. Even notice the little, insignificant decisions you make. By doing this, you are reinforcing the fact that you can make decisions, you can make good decisions and that decision making doesn't need to be hard or painful.

6) Believe in yourself. Believe that you will make the right decision and you will. Half the battle is believing in ourselves. Believing that we can successfully do something. And making decisions is no different. If we don't believe in our ability to make good decisions, to make the right decisions, we simply stop making decisions altogether.

Believe that you can do it, and you will be able to.

7) Commit to your decision. Once you've made a decision, stick to it. Don't keep changing your mind. Once you've made a decision - stay with the decision until you realize that it's not working for you. But don't change your mind before you've given the decision enough time to come to fruition. When we're not sure what to do it's easy to constantly change our minds - but we need to believe in our decision and give it time to marinade. Time to get results. And once we've seen the results - then assess whether we need to make another decision.

8) Act on your decision. A decision isn't a decision unless you take an immediate action on it.

Make this a new rule for your life. We all make quasi decisions every day. I will do this, I will do that. But unless you are taking an action to make that decision a reality - it gets lost, forgotten, put onto that heap of wasted, unfulfilled decisions.

If you follow all these 8 steps before you make any kind of important decision you will immediately get out of stuck and into action. As soon as you are faced with a decision look back at this strategy - follow all the steps and I have no doubt that the right decision for you will become obvious.

Good Luck!