Perfect decisions are few and far between because life is messy. A great decision is always possible, however. Great decisions don’t all have fairytale endings, but they do achieve the best possible outcome under the circumstances.
The most successful decision-makers don’t act on impulse, intuition, or even experience alone; they have a system that they work through step by step. Here is one such system:
Define the issue. A problem well stated is a problem half solved. Employ the “who, what, when, why, and how” regimen of the journalist, although not necessarily in that order. Why is the decision necessary? What is the objective? How can a great decision change things for the better? Whom will it affect? When does it need to be made?
Take a positive approach. Make a conscious effort to see the situation as an opportunity rather than a problem.
List your options. The more alternatives you consider, the more likely you will be to not overlook the best solution.
Gather information about your options. You will not only make better decisions if you have investigated thoroughly, but you will also have more peace of mind as you carry out your decision.
Be objective. If you already have an opinion on the matter, the natural tendency will be to look primarily for evidence to confirm that opinion. That works if you happen to be right, but if you’re not… Welcome alternatives and opposing views. Remind yourself that the goal is not to prove yourself right, but to make the right decision.
Consider your options. Write down the pros and cons for each option and see how they stack up against each other. Try to determine both best-case and worst-case scenarios for each option. See if there is some way to combine several promising solutions into one potent solution.
Be true to yourself. Do any of the alternatives compromise your values? If so, scratch them from the list.
Make a decision. When you’re convinced that you’ve found the best alternative, commit to it.
Be open to change if circumstances change. Once you make a decision and begin to act on it, a better option may open up. This is sometimes referred to as the “boat-and-rudder effect.” It’s not until a boat is in motion that the rudder can come into play, but when it does, it makes greater maneuverability possible.
Ask Jesus. Last but certainly not least, pray for guidance at each step of the decision-making process. The answers to all your questions and problems are simple for Jesus, so if you’re smart, you’ll be like the man who said, “I may not know all the answers, but I know the Answer Man!” Jesus has all the answers. He is the answer!