Decision Making Strategies

There are a number of strategies that you can employ to improve your decision making.

  • Clarify decision difficulties
    List the things that make your decision a difficult one. Once you clearly define the problems, the solutions are often easier to see.
  • List how you can obtain support
    Don’t underestimate the help available from friends, relatives, counselors, and others. Although the decision must ultimately be yours, you don’t have to go through the decision making process alone.
  • Consider whether a deeper issue may be complicating things
    For example, parental pressure, lack of confidence, or motivational problems that may be clouding your decision.
  • Consider a full range of alternatives using a decision matrix
    There could be alternatives that you may not see at first glance. Talking to others is one of the best methods to explore such alternatives.
  • Spend time clarifying your goals
    Decisions should be put within a larger context. If you do not have clear goals, you will find it difficult to make wise choices. Once your goals are clear, the best choice between alternatives often becomes more evident.
  • Make sure that you have a realistic view of the consequences
    It is common to overestimate the negative consequences of a decision. Keep things in perspective.
  • Seek additional help
    If you typically have difficulty making any decision of importance, schedule an appointment with a psychologist in the Counseling Center to explore your decision-making style.

Use a step-by-step decision making process.

  • Clarify the decision. What needs to be decided?
  • Identify your options. Narrow down your list of options to those you consider most viable.
  • Consider pros and cons. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  • Choose among the options. This is the point in the process where you must assume the most responsibility; a choice must be made and you are the only one who can make it.
  • Take some action. How are you going to implement the decision?
  • Review your decision. Continue to gather information after a decision is made and revise your decision as necessary.

Adapted from Gary Lynn Harr’s book, Career Guide: Road Maps to Meaning in the World of Work, 1995.