How to Effectively Make Practical Decisions in Life

Updated on August 6, 2019
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok writes about personal growth and emotional well-being that he learned from his studies of social behavior and from experience.

When you need to make wise choices to resolve issues or to plan for your future, you'll want to start with considering the long-term benefits. What is it that you want to accomplish?

Once you have this clear in your head, review these four questions:

  1. What's the point?
  2. Does it have value to you?
  3. Do you have a detailed plan?
  4. Are you overlooking something?

I'll elaborate on each of these to give you more to consider.

Source

Visualize the Long-Term Benefits

Every decision you make has a tremendous effect on your future. One little change can create a new direction your life takes you. To give you an example, consider your choice of friends.

We spend days, years, maybe a lifetime with certain people we have accepted into our lives. If we think about it, tracing back to whom we met from whom—a friend of a friend who now became our friend. If we track it back far enough, we realize that every decision had a turning point where we might have met some other person instead. Then from that person, we would have met different people from those we know now.

We would have had a completely different life at this juncture, knowing completely different people.

You may not have been aware of it, but every person you know, everyone you have been in contact with, has affected your life. One friend may have introduced you to a new venture that you followed. Another may have made a comment that caused you to change your direction in life.

You might have had a completely different life than you have now. Maybe better, maybe worse, maybe just something different.

Now I'm just using friends as an example. You can apply the same logic to the choice of a profession, or a social club you're thinking of joining, or the way you treat people.

Do the thought process yourself on that one—go back in your mind about career choices you’ve made, and what opportunities you overlooked. Then consider what alternative life you might have had.

Play it through as if you were writing a screenplay. See how different your life may have been.

For example, working in a different company or choosing a different profession might have caused you to relocate. Your whole life might be different, having lived in a different town—knowing other people and making other friends.

The conclusion you imagine might upset you. It might be a little overwhelming. You might suddenly realize you made the wrong choices.

Nothing can be done about that now, but getting in touch with this vision of how life carries out can help you apply the same process to decision-making going forward. This exercise can have long-term benefits.

Ask Yourself, "What’s The Point?"

While contemplating every step along the way, always stop and ask yourself, "What's the point?"

If you can't answer that question with an honest and realistically meaningful conclusion, then you might suddenly realize you'd be wasting your time with the wrong choice.

We go through life, continually making decisions, choosing one thing or another. Whatever we want, we are eliminating all other possibilities—and yet some of those options may have been better. However, we sometimes make hasty decisions because of limited time or lack of attention to detail.

Always try to consider if you are doing something meaningful that serves the purpose you set out to accomplish.

Consider the Value of Your Choices

Most decisions we made throughout life have had value. There's a reason why we chose the friends we have, the job we perform, the person we married (or didn't marry).

Decisions were obvious at the time. We've made them for a reason, and that reason is for the sake of value. Even if we chose subconsciously, our minds are made up for one reason or another.

Although we may make drastic mistakes in our judgment from time to time, the primary purpose of our choices is to improve our position in life with our desires.

Just because some decision we made in the past might seem to be poor judgment, it may very well have been what we wanted, and it had value to us at the time.

So, with that understanding, consider the value based on how important the decision is to you, not necessarily based on monetary value, but all other reasons. Don't forget to value your safety, your satisfaction, your health, and your comfort.

Develop a Detailed Plan

Once you decide to do something, you need to develop a plan. Think of what’s required to get started and the steps you need to take to move along to completion.

Write these steps down in the order you need to do them. This list will provide a visual representation, which makes it much easier to plot the required tasks.

Once you have the design of your plan, get started, and check off each step as you complete them. That works for almost any aspect of life.

Don’t Overlook Other Options

Life isn’t always pleasant. We can experience catastrophes and misfortunes. Tragedy can strike when we least expect it. It’s not easy to overcome adversity in life, and sometimes it’s impossible.

However, the thing to do is try to analyze the available options. When we become aware of the choices we have, it’s easier to develop resilience to adversity and to deal with the trials and tribulations we encounter.

When you find yourself in the worst of times, and you know you need to find a way to pull through for survival, remember to stop and think of the options you may be overlooking. Put a plan together that will get you to a better place. Visualizing the outcome will help arrive at the best decision.

Source

Don't Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

No matter where you are in life, you can change course. Remember that while you are involved in any endeavor that you choose to do, you are losing out on everything else that you could have been doing at the same moment.

All you have to do at this stage is to determine if your choices have value to you. If not, analyze your options and consider making a change.

Few things in life are so strict that we can’t change it. Contracts, commitments, and caring for other people are things that we need to respect. Sometimes we just need to stick to it. However, when we find ourselves going in the wrong direction, we need to work at correcting our path whenever possible. It may require some attention and focus.

When we make decisions, we care about the outcome. As logical as we can be, we can't always consider all the possibilities. However, when confronted with confusing decisions, we can think logically to see things clearly and make the right choice.

Life is full of surprises. Some are good, and some not so good. Nevertheless, even bad decisions can be turned around if we change them in time. Bad decisions provide positive lessons in life. We always get something positive out of it when we recognize what we have learned from our mistakes.

As long as you follow your dreams and focus on the value and long-term benefits of your decisions, you’ll be on the way to a future you desire.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Glenn Stok

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      • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

        Glenn Stok 

        2 years ago from Long Island, NY

        FlourishAnyway - That's a great idea to teach young people to study more than one field in college. We never know where our future interests lie until we are introduced to new things.

        When I started out I majored in mechanical engineering because as a kid I liked to build things. But then I learned about computers, changed my major, and never looked back.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 years ago from USA

        I'm big into what I call "option development" because like you said it allows you to be more adaptable, employable and resilient. I encourage the young people I interact with to try to double major in college in very different fields, if possible (e.g., Engineering and Psychology). It widens opportunities.

      • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

        Glenn Stok 

        2 years ago from Long Island, NY

        MsDora - I'm glad you found that meaningful. I know it works for me. Every mistake we make is a lesson for improvement.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Glenn, your article is very insightful. Thanks for reminding us so powerfully that "Nothing can be done about that now, but getting in touch with this vision of how life carries out can help you . . ." Very meaningful to me.

      • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

        Glenn Stok 

        2 years ago from Long Island, NY

        Jodah - You got the point very well, and you brought up another useful tip that I use but didn't mention. When I have a serious problem that needs to be resolved, I sit down in a comfortable chair in my living room (I call it my thinking chair) and I contemplate the situation and figure out a solution. It funny, but I always seem to get good ideas in that chair. I'm sure it's just because I gave the issue my attention and thought it through.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        2 years ago from Queensland Australia

        Very good advice here Glenn, and things we all need to take seriously. You don't always sit down and consider how different decisions, friends, acquaintances and situations could have changed your life so dramatically.

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