HOW TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS - Our Decisions Shape Our Lives

Wise Decision Making
Wise Decision Making

HOW TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS - Effective decision making skills.

Life is a journey with many opportunities and obstacles, and every one requires a choice. Whatever you are experiencing in your life today is the result of your past choices. More important, whatever you’ll experience in the future will be fashioned by the choices you make from this moment on. Success depends on making smart choices, so you want to know how to become a better decision maker.

Our decisions shape our lives. Made consciously or unconsciously, with good or bad consequences, they represent the fundamental tool we use in facing the opportunities, the challenges, and the uncertainties of life.

Life is full of questions that requires our decisions to address them.
  • Should I go to college? If so, where? To study what?
  • What career should I pursue? What job should I take?
  • Should I get married now, or wait? Should I have children? If so, when and how many?
  • Where should I live? Should I trade up to a larger house? What can I contribute to my community?
  • Which job candidate should I hire? What marketing strategy should I recommend for my company?
  • I feel unfulfilled. Should I change jobs? Go back to school? Move?
  • How should I invest my savings? When should I retire? To do what? Where? Such questions mark the progress of our lives and our careers, and the way we answer them · I feel unfulfilled.
  • Should I change jobs? Go back to school? Move?· How should I invest my savings? When should I retire? To do what? Where?Such questions mark the progress of our lives and our careers, and the way we answer them place in society and in the world. Our success in all the roles we playstudent, worker, boss, citizen, spouse, parent, individualturns on the decisions we make.
  • Shall I - major in business, art, science, or creative writing?
  • Shall I - drop a course that bores me or stick it out?
  • Shall I- study for my exam or go out with friends?

Bellow are the six questions of the Wise Choice Process


Identify your problem or challenge, being sure to define the situation as a Creator, not as a Victim. The important information here is “What exists?” (not “Whose fault is it?”). Silence your Inner Critic, the self-criticizing voice in your head: I am a total loser in my Biology class. Likewise, ignore judgmental voice that blames everyone else for your problems: My Biology instructor is the worst teacher on the planet. Instead, rely on your inner guide, your wise, impartial inner voice that tells the truth as best it can. Consider only the objective facts of your situation, including how you feel about them. For example:
I stayed up all night studying for my first Biology test. When I finished taking the test, I hoped for an A. At worst, I expected a B. When I got the test back, my grade was a D. Five other students got A’s. I feel depressed and angry.

The way you state your problem frames your decision. It determines the alternatives you consider and the way you evaluate them. Posing the right problem drives everything else. Get it wrong and you'll march out in the wrong direction. Get it right and you'll be well on your way to where you really want to go. A good solution to a well-posed decision problem is almost always a smarter choice than an excellent solution to a poorly posed one.

By the way, sometimes when we accurately define a troublesome situation, we immediately know what to do. The problem wasn’t so much the situation as our muddy understanding of it.


You can’t change the past, but if you could create your desired outcome in the future, what would it look like?

You've formulated the right decision problem. Now, before you rush into making the actual decision, pause and think hard about your objectives. What do you really want? What do you really need? What are your hopes? your goals? Answering these questions honestly, clearly, and fully puts you on track to making the smart choice.

You Objective could be:- I would like to get A’s on all of my future tests.

Remember the old saying "If you don't know where you're going, any route will get you there"? Too often, decision makers don't take the time to specify their objectives clearly and fully. As a result, they fail to get where they want to go.


Create a list of possible choices that you could do, knowing you aren’t obligated to do any of them. Compile your list without judgment. Don’t say, “Oh, that would never work.” Don’t even say, “That’s a great idea.” Judgment during brainstorming stops the creative flow. Move from judgments to possibilities, discovering as many creative options as you can. Give yourself time to ponder, explore, consider, think, discover, conceive, invent, imagine. Then dive even deeper. If you get stuck, try one of these options. First, take a different point of view.

Think of someone you admire and ask, “What would that person do in my situation?” Or, pretend your problem belongs to someone else. What advice would you give them? Third, incubate. That is, set the problem aside and let your unconscious mind work on a solution while you do other things. Sometimes a great option will pop into your mind while you are brushing your hair, doing math homework, or even sleeping. Your patience will often pay off with a helpful option that would have remained invisible had you accepted the first idea that came to mind or, worse, given up.

Some of the possible choices you could make after failure in biology

•  You could complain to your Biology classmates and anyone else who will listen.
• You could drop the class and take it next semester with another instructor.
• You could complain to the department head that the instructor grades unfairly.
• You could ask your successful classmates for help.
• You could ask the instructor for suggestions about improving my grades.
• You could read about study skills and experiment with some new ways to study.
• You could request an opportunity to retake the test.


You've defined your problem, you've structured your objectives, and you've established the set of alternatives you have to choose from. Now, to make a smart choice, you need to compare the merits of the competing alternatives, assessing how well each satisfies your fundamental objectives. To make the comparisons, you'll first need to describe how well you'll fare with each alternative. In other words, you'll need to lay out the consequences each alternative would have for each of your objectives. If you describe the consequences well, your decision will often be obvious without requiring much further reflection.

Decide how you think each choice is likely to turn out. If you can’t predict the outcome of one of your possible choices, stop this process and gather any additional information you need. For example, if you don’t know the impact that dropping a course will have on your financial aid, find out before you take that action. Here are the possible choices from Step 3 and their likely outcomes:
• Complain to Biology classmates: You could have the immediate pleasure of criticizing the instructor and maybe getting others’ sympathy.
• Drop the class: You could lose three credits this semester and have to make them up later.
• Complain to the department head: Probably she’d ask if you’ve seen your instructor first, so you wouldn’t get much satisfaction.
• Ask successful classmates for help: You might learn how to improve your study habits; you might also make new friends.
• Ask the instructor for suggestions: You might learn what to do next time to improve your grade; at least the instructor would learn that you want to do well in this course.
• Read about study skills: You would probably learn some strategies you don’t know and maybe improve your test scores in all of your classes.
• Request an opportunity to retake the test: your request might get approved and give you an opportunity to raise your grade.


Decide which choice or choices will likely create your desired outcome; then commit to acting on them. If no favorable option exists, consider which choice leaves you no worse off than before. If no such option exists, then ask which choice creates the least unfavorable outcome.

You will talk to your successful classmates, make an appointment with your instructor and have him explain what you could do to improve, and you’ll request an opportunity to retake the test.

Each situation will dictate the best options. In the example above, if the student had previously failed four tests instead of one, the best choice might be to drop the class. Or, if everyone in the class were receiving D’s and F’s, and if the student had already met with the instructor, a responsible option might be to see the department head about the instructor’s grading policies.


After your next biology test, you will see if you have achieved your goal of getting an A. If not, you will revise your plan.

You shouldn't let yourself be constrained by history, but you should certainly try to learn from it. Find out what others have done in similar situations, and if you've faced similar decisions before, consider again the alternatives you devised then. (Don't, however, limit your alternatives to those previously considered you don't want to fall into the "business as usual" trap.)

Our choices reveal what we truly believe and value, as opposed to what we say we believe and value. When I submissively wait for others to improve my life, I am being a Victim. When I passively wait for luck to go my way, I am being a Victim. When I make choices that take me off course from my future success just to increase my immediate pleasure (such as partying instead of studying for an important test), I am being a Victim. When I make choices that sacrifice my goals and dreams just to reduce my immediate discomfort (such as dropping a challenging course instead of spending extra hours working with a tutor), I am being a Victim.

However, when I design a plan to craft my life as I want it, I am being a Creator. When I carry out my plan even in the face of obstacles (such as when the campus bookstore runs out of a book I need for class and I keep up with my assignments by reading a copy the instructor has placed on reserve in the library), I am being a Creator. When I take positive risks to advance my goals (such as asking a question in a large lecture class even though I am nervous), I am being a Creator. When I sacrifice immediate pleasure to stay on course toward my dreams (such as resisting the urge to buy a new cell phone so I can reduce my work hours to study more), I am being a Creator.
No matter what your final decision may be, the mere fact that you are defining and making your own choices is wonderfully empowering.

By participating in the Wise Choice Process, you affirm your belief that you can change your life for the better. You reject the position that you are merely a Victim of outside forces, a pawn in the chess game of life. You insist on being the Creator of your own outcomes and experiences, shaping your destiny through the power of wise choices.