How to make really good decisions

The need to make a decision seems to happen in bursts.

For example, we were remodeling one room in our basement. There were decisions after decisions after decisions. Do we install carpet tiles or vinyl planking? What color paint? What do we do about the trim?

Well, you get it.

Or when maybe you’re planning a vacation. Where are we going? Are we flying or driving? Do we want a warm climate or a hot climate. (You noticed I didn’t say cold.)

But then there are other times we think we have a decision to make and we really don’t. We can wait and see where God is leading.

Back to the basement remodel. We mulled over how to remodel the basement for a few months. We wanted to think and let our thoughts kind of “wander” and imagine. We did that, both of us separately.

Then as we had some ideas, we were able to narrow down our choices based on our budget and what we felt made common financial sense. Considering we are probably moving in the next five years, we came up with a plan.

When we bought our new truck, we used this same method of exploration, gathering information, financial consideration, and our own thoughts, all of it under God’s umbrella of his word.

We have learned that we can trust God to always lead us in the right direction when we take our time.

But, of course, there are times, we have to make quick decisions. If someone is having chest pain, we quickly call 911. No thinking here. And when we get to the hospital, there will be all kinds of decisions. You might think there are no decisions for you to make then but there will be.

When we have someone in the hospital, we should be alert to all that is happening around us. We need to ask questions, record what is happening, keep medical staff know about insurance coverage, etc. These are all decisions we make. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the hospital with any member of my family that I haven’t had many decisions to make.

During a crisis is not the time to develop good decision-making skills. Good decision-making skills have to be developed. They have to be honed when we have the luxury of time.

  • Think beyond the current issue. For example, if you make this decision, what are the possible outcomes” If you make a different decision, what are the possible outcomes? What are the possible outcomes if you make no decision?
  • Walk it into the future. If I make this decision today what will be the result a year, five years, down the road? For big decisions, it’s good to think about the long-term effects of your decision.
  • Gather information. This is a little easier said than done sometimes. There are times we don’t even know what information to gather because we are way outside our expertise. But if we take our time and allow ourselves to simply think, we will eventually figure it out and we’ll figure out what we need to know.
  • Pray about it. I generally ask God to put up a roadblock if it’s something I just can’t seem to come to a decision about. Other times, I pray that God will put the necessary resources, people, books, Biblical principles, and circumstances, into my path so I can make the best decision.

Even after all this, we can still make the wrong decision. If it’s a small enough decision, we can probably make it right. For big decisions, it may not be that easy.

“How can we make a wrong decision after all that?” you might ask.

We are human and often our human desires get in the way, despite everything. We are all perfectly capable of talking ourselves into something and then say God led us to that decision. I’ve seen it happen more than once. It’s amazing the way we can justify our own desires and then God the “credit”.

But here’s the important thing.

The closer we walk with God, as evidenced by the totality of our lives, public and private, we will find that most of the time we will make the right decision.

Some people are paralyzed by decision-making and often try to let others make the decisions for them. Don’t allow yourself to be caught up in this. You will regret it for sure if it doesn’t work out.

Years ago a family member asked me to help her buy some furniture. I love helping people decorate but making decisions for what to buy is something I will never do again. She ended up taking it all back. Seeing as we have a really good relationship, I laughingly told her, “never again”. She laughed and I have kept my word.

Give your opinion when asked but never make a decision for someone else. The reverse is also true, don’t let other people make decisions for you.

The ability to choose is a great privilege. Don’t abuse it.

God bless and stay safe.

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