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Decision making

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Monica Correale

on 16 September 2013

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Transcript of Decision making

Decision making
This section will explore topics related to decision making. First, we'll go over how you can build a foundation of strong values and critical thinking skills. This foundation will aid you in making decisions that lead to the accomplishment of your personal goals. Next, we'll go over the decision making process and discuss methods that can help you quickly make informed decisions that you won't look back on with regret. Finally, we'll talk about the importance of mistakes and how you can move forward after making them.
Building a foundation
The choices you make are largely the result of your underlying skills, values, and beliefs. In order to make the best possible choices, it's helpful to have a strong foundation of well developed critical thinking skills as well as a core personal value system from which you can readily draw upon.
The decision making process
Having a structured process to go through when making decisions, especially difficult decisions, can quickly facilitate decision making as well as ensure that the choices you make are ones that you will not regret.
Making mistakes
Even when you make decisions using all of the guidelines we've discussed so far, mistakes still will happen. It's important to acknowledge and examine what went wrong without becoming overwhelmed with guilt, anxiety, or regret. Mistakes are an important and necessary part of the learning process.
1. Develop Your Critical Thinking Skills
Humans are naturally inclined to quickly make many of our daily decisions using our most immediately accessible thoughts and emotions. This can be a good thing when we encounter a true threat, such as deciding whether or not to run from a dangerous situation; however, most of the choices we face in modern society are so complex that making truly good decisions require you to go beyond your immediate instincts.

Critical thinking is a set of skills that you can use to help you make rational, informed decisions. Critical thinking skills can help you with every single decision you encounter, from what information you choose to believe is true to whether or not you should take out another student loan or move in with your romantic partner.
2. Define your core values and goals
Having a strong sense of who you are and what you believe in will provide you with a foundation from which you can draw from during especially difficult decisions. This foundation will enable you to make choices that are an accurate reflection of who you are. It will also help to simplify the decision making process and ensure that the choices you make help you accomplish your goals.
Take it to the next level:
check out these helpful articles on decision making
What do you value?
Write down or think about your
top 5 core values.
If you need ideas, choose from this list.

Are your current choices a reflection of your core values and goals?
1. Make a list of how you spent all of your time over the past 3 days.

2. Did each activity help you or hinder you from accomplishing your goals? Was it consistent with your core values? Label each activity accordingly.
Solutions to common obstacles during the decision making process
Procrastination and paralysis
. First, try to determine what's causing your avoidance. Is the decision provoking negative feelings and anxiety? Or are you overwhelmed with the details and not sure where to begin? In either case, try to break the process down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Start where you feel the most comfortable, even if it seems out of order. Try not to avoid it entirely. You'll feel a lot better once you make some progress. Things will become clear in time.
Pressure from outsiders
. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between what
want and what
others expect
of you. If this happens, take a short break from the process. When you come back to it, try to stay focused on

core values and goals
. Use critical thinking skills, but don't discount your "gut feeling" about a decision.
Lack of options
. In some cases, even after brainstorming, you can feel paralyzed because no one option seems quite right. If this happens, take a break from thinking about it. You may find that this break allows you to approach the decision in a new way when you return to it. If that doesn't work, ask for help from others, including family, friends, professors, and university staff. They may be able to offer you a fresh perspective.
The Decision Making Process
. Set yourself up for success by making sure that you understand the details of the decision that needs to be made. Setting a reasonable deadline for the decision to be made is also helpful.
. Make a list of all the possible choices you can think of.
. Assess the pros, cons, risks, and possible consequences and outcomes of all of your options. You can do this in a variety of ways (see resource below for some ideas). Make sure that you put time into researching your options.
Get feedback
. Turn to trusted friends or family members with your ideas to ensure that you remain balanced and objective.
Take a break
. Sometimes things become clearer when you step away from them for a period of time. This can be particularly effective when you become overwhelmed or confused.
. Execute your decision and don't look back.
Principles of Critical Thinking
Be curious.
Seek out new information and ask questions.
Be respectful
. Listen to people who have different ideas then you do
making up your mind.
Be flexible
. Have beliefs and opinions, but allow these the flexibility to change as you learn more.
Be creative
. Challenge yourself to think of new solutions and alternative explanations.
Be honest
. Evaluate your own beliefs, opinions, and reactions and be aware that you may be biased.
Be skeptical
. Use your thinking skills to evaluate the credibility of the information you encounter.
Be brave
. Have the courage to think outside the box even when it means having a different opinion from the majority.
What are your goals?
Write down 3 goals.

Try to keep these goals SMART. For example, your goals might be to earn a 3.0 GPA for the Fall semester, to make 2 new friends this year, and to exercise at least twice per week.
Break these goals into smaller steps, if possible.

For example, the GPA goal could be broken down into the smaller goals of attending 95% of the lectures, completing every assignment on time, and studying for at least 2 hours before every exam.
What to do when you make a mistake:
Acknowledge that you made a mistake.
This means owning up to your error, apologizing to anyone you may have negatively impacted, and accepting the consequences of your actions.
Identify the factors that hindered you.
Did you make a decision based upon untrustworthy information? Did you abandon your deepest values in favor of immediate reward? Were you pressured by friends to do something you weren't sure about? Did you not give yourself enough time to go through the process?
Think about what you can do in the future to address these factors.
This might mean enlisting a trusted friend or family member's help, removing external obstacles, or simply redefining your goals and values.
Forgive yourself and move forward.
Try to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and that this is a fantastic opportunity for learning and growth.
Write down or think about one critical thinking skill that you
absolutely rock
Then, write down or think about one critical thinking skill that could use a little
What are

concrete ways
that you could integrate more critical thinking skills into your
daily choices
Take it to the next level:
Check out this excellent article on effective goal setting. It includes many strategies for breaking goals down by scale and type: http://www.mindtools.com/page6.html
Take it to the next level:
Free, printable activity logs to help you manage your time in support of your goals/values can be found at http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/worksheets/ActivityLogDownload.htm
Take it to the next level:
Seven reasons why not making mistakes is the biggest mistake

TED Talk on being wrong and making mistakes:
Quick tip:
Making tough decisions
can easily become super stressful. Don't forget to take good care of yourself, physically and emotionally, in order to keep stress levels manageable during the process.
Common myths about decision making
These common myths can lead to unnecessary fear, anxiety, shame, and/or avoidance:
Nobody else is undecided. They've known from a young age.
It's normal, appropriate, and extremely common to be uncertain about your future!
No one else struggles with this.
Most people struggle. Open up to a trusted confidant and they will most likely express a similar experience.
Other people have a better idea of what I should do
. Other people have valuable contributions to make, but
you're the only expert on you
Once I make a choice, it should be easy to implement
. Acting on a decision can often be difficult. Break it down into small steps, get some help, and do your best.
I have to understand every aspect of a choice before I can make it.
This would be impossible! It's normal to have to make adjustments to your decisions as you move forward. Some lessons you can only learn though experience.
If I make a mistake, I am a failure.
Mistakes are an inevitable and invaluable part of the process and do not affect your ultimate value or worth as a person.
I shouldn't feel uncertain if I've made the right choice
. It's normal to feel confused or uncertain after making a decision. Remember to keep moving forward, not backward.
Quick Tip:
Feeling overwhelmed?
Focus on breathing slowly and deeply, filling and emptying your abdomen with air. Mentally assure yourself that you will get through this (and trust me, you will). If you need to, reach out to a trusted confidant.
Take it to the next level:

Check out this great article explaining the decision making process. It includes a lot of free resources for evaluating your options.
Applying these concepts
Here are a few resources that may be useful when facing many common decisions encountered by college students.
Choosing your major:
Deciding whether or not to take on another extracurricular activity/class:
Taking out a loan
: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/05/5-things-to-consider-when-taking-out-student-loans/
Choosing a roommate:
http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/twice-the-college-advice/2012/03/20/how-to-choose-and-keep-a-college-roommate & http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/twice-the-college-advice/2012/03/20/how-to-choose-and-keep-a-college-roommate
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