How to Make Wiser Decisions
“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy E. Disney
Think about the choices you made today. How many of them were the result of thoughtful analysis, sorting through options, considering their potential effect on others, setting aside your personal bias? How many were based on your own desire to get it done, taking the effortless way out, not being personally invested, ignoring how your choice might look or feel to others, or succumbing to peer pressure? Everyone wants to believe they’re capable of sound judgment, yet most of us can use a little help to make wiser decisions — even if we think we do fine as it is.
Why bother with wise reasoning? Research shows that wise reasoning is associated with a greater quality of life satisfaction, less negative affect, less depressive thinking, better social relationships, speech that consists of words that are more positive than negative, and, perhaps most important, longer life.
Pay attention to personal motivations.
Why do you select one choice or solution over another? Does it matter if you’re trying to solve a problem for yourself or someone else? Research exploring the connection between personal ideals and reasoning conducted by the University of Waterloo and published in Psychological Science, a journal for the Association of Psychological Science, found that the more study participants’ motivation to pursue virtue increased, the more valuable they rated wise-reasoning strategies when thinking about personal problems.
Wise-reasoning strategies explored included searching for a compromise, adopting an outsider’s perspective, and developing intellectual humility.
Recognize and acknowledge uncertainty and change.
Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. There are situational circumstances to consider, timing required for reaching a decision, factors that are presently unknown, and change, among other variables. Whether you are attempting to arrive at a workable solution for a business problem or helping a friend figure out the best strategy for dealing with a family difficulty or trying to navigate your own options for a problem you face, proceeding without recognizing how important the factors of uncertainty and change are can make decisions not only less wise, but also not well thought-out or effective.