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What Should I Do? Which Way Should I Go? Making Wise Decisions

Decision making can be overwhelming. There are so many possibilities to choose from.

Decision making can be overwhelming. There are so many possibilities to choose from.

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We Make Decisions Every Day

Every day we make decisions, what to eat, what to wear, where to go, what to do, thousands of decisions that affect our lives. It can be overwhelming just thinking about it. The time it takes to determine each individual choice can be daunting. How is it possible to get to the important decisions when we can't even get past the mundane? There are a few tricks that make decision making easier and less time consuming.

1. Use good habits to minimize the decisions you have to make on a daily basis.

2. Establish priorities by looking at your life long-term.

3. Set goals to give you guidance in making big decisions.

4. Remember that wise decisions lead to feelings of peace and happiness.

Establish Good Daily Habits

Good habits take the guessing out of daily decision making. The decisions are made ahead of time and we simply carry them through.

Good habits take the guessing out of daily decision making. The decisions are made ahead of time and we simply carry them through.

How Are Your Habits?

Look at each of the areas of your life. What do you see? How are you doing? Use the following questions to help you determine the areas needing improvement:


  • Are you eating nutritious meals three times daily?
  • Do you get enough sleep?
  • Are you exercising regularly?
  • Do you avoid using substances that are harmful to your body?


  • Do you read and write something each day?
  • Is your employment using your talents productively?
  • Are you expanding your skills?
  • Do you look for ways to increase your earning power?


  • Do you have regular contact with family members?
  • Are you spending time with friends that uplift and strengthen you?
  • Do you have recreational activities that rejuvenate your body and spirit?
  • Is service to others a part of your life?


  • Do you acknowledge and accept a higher power in your life?
  • Is there daily connection with that power?
  • Have you taken time for introspection and pondering?
  • Do you have meaning and purpose in your life?

The daily things you do that answer these questions are the habits that form the foundation of your decision making ability. In essence you are building a strong emotional house that will shelter you from the storms of life. Crises come at unexpected times and having good habits will carry you through.

Good Habits

Good habits like bridles keep a horse at bay, the rider has power over the horse’s way. When it tries to take a different course, the bridle pinches the mouth of the horse. The horse is under the rider's control, and continues down the winding knoll.

Good habits like seals keep the liquid in; binding together thick or thin. They form a boundary liquid cannot pass, but if broken, the liquid comes out fast. Habits seal passions, feelings, and time. Without them, life would not be sublime.

Good habits like trees have their roots grown deep, providing strength and shelter to keep. They lend their shade to all around, and in the storm, will not crash down. Materials they provide build many things, like instruments that make the heart sing.

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Good habits like blankets never seem to wear, they keep us warm no matter where. For mistakes made are simply a part of life, and good habits keep you through toil and strife. They are the anchor in the storm, the light ahead to bring you home.

Good habits formed in younger days prove their weight in gold; they continue to hold, though boards do fold. For boards and paint will all turn gray, yet nails hold on, come what may.

Priorities and Goals Give Your Guidance

When we set goals, we are giving ourselves direction to our decision making and narrowing our choices.

When we set goals, we are giving ourselves direction to our decision making and narrowing our choices.

Examples of Goals

Examples of family goals:

  • Raise three children
  • Be involved with community athletics
  • Learn to play musical instruments
  • Have a regular family vacation

Examples of church service goals:

  • Attend regular Sunday services
  • Be involved with youth group
  • Teach a Sunday School class
  • Sing in the church choir

Examples of home ownership goals:

  • Save money for a down payment
  • Purchase a home in a particular neighborhood
  • Plan a garden
  • Put up a row of trees

Examples of career advancement goals:

  • Get an education
  • Learn a particular skill
  • Work toward getting a raise
  • Find a job in a desired location

Priorities Give a Basis for Decision Making

Establishing priorities gives a basis for the big decisions that come on a regular basis. Knowing what is important to you and why allows you to have direction in life. In order to establish your priorities, think of what your life will be like 5 or 10 years from now. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who will you be with?
  • What will you be doing?
  • Where will you live?
  • When will you be successful?
  • Why will life be important to you?
  • How will you be happiest?

Once you have done this, you have a measuring stick for making wise decisions. You will be able to see what is important and make a list of your priorities. Examples might be:

  • Family
  • Church service
  • Home ownership
  • Career advancement

Establishing these priorities makes some decisions easier to make. You will be able to look at the problem you are currently facing and choose the path that will help you accomplish your goals. Some sacrifice may be required, such as setting aside your own personal desires in order to keep your marriage and family strong. Perhaps you will have to forgo home ownership while working on your education.

Other decisions will still require study and effort. In these cases, use the "Pros" (advantages or positive aspects of the option) versus "Cons" (disadvantages or negative aspects of the option) method to help you determine a course of action. See the chart below for an example of decision making concerning a job change.

Which Job Shall I Choose?

Options ProsCons

Keep current employment

Know the job

Getting restless, want something different


Have established co-worker relationships

Rocky relationship with supervisor


Pay adequate for needs

Would like better pay


Established in neighborhood

Need better benefits for expanding family

Move to different employment within current field

New adventure

Will be learning curve


Able to start with clean slate

Time required to establish new relationships


Better pay for larger home

Have to work up to desired salary


Access to different community services

May be waiting period for desired beneftis

Change to employment in different field

Develop new talents

Go back to school or get other training


Move to desired area

Cost of schooling


Increased time with family

Start at entry level position


Greater advancement opportunities

Benefits not available when needed

The Ability to Go Forward Gives Feelings of Peace and Happiness

Learning the skill of decision making turns seemingly impossible tasks into possibilities for our better future.

Learning the skill of decision making turns seemingly impossible tasks into possibilities for our better future.

You Will Know When You Are Doing Right

Your conscience will feel at peace when you are moving in the right direction. Wise decisions bring feelings of strength and inner calm. Even when you have to make difficult decisions that take a great deal of time and deliberation, once you know what direction you are going, and have put in place the steps required to set your life in order, the obstacles that were previously in your way will be removed.

Continued feelings of darkness and confusion are signals that something is not right and you need to go back to the drawing board. Take the time to write down what is happening. Define the problem, determine what is holding you back and what is in the way of your decision making process. Prayer will bring added insight and direction. Study the scriptures. Humble yourself, and allow God to speak to your mind and heart.

Life is precious indeed, and knowing that you are going the right direction and doing the right thing will bring peace and happiness into your life. You will be glad you did!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Denise W Anderson


Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 26, 2013:

I use that technique frequently myself, DrRebeccaStanders. I especially find it helpful when I working with one of my children, or even my spouse, on a difficult decision. It spells everything out nicely and you can look at it from several different perspectives. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Dr. Rebecca Sanders from Indiana on June 25, 2013:

I use your "pros-cons" technique with every major decision; I've always heard that called the "Ben Franklin" method. I'm not sure where that name came from, or if it's accurate; but it has never failed to help me with decision-making so far!

Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on April 15, 2013:

You are right, Deborah-Diane. Decision making is often done on automatic pilot. We follow our hunches and go through the motions. Taking the time to think things through is a good idea, especially when a decision involves multiple people such as immediate or extended family. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on April 12, 2013:

So many of us make important decisions without thinking them through. Thanks, Denise, for pointing out the importance of making wise decisions!

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