In this life, we will all have to make decisions. Some of them will be simple, like deciding what to eat for lunch. Some of them will be more complex, like choosing the best job opportunity. For those decisions that require a little more thought, and especially those that have more lasting impacts, practicing effective decision making is an invaluable skill that will most certainly drive your success.

1. Identify Issue

The first step is to clearly outline exactly what the issue is that you need to make a decision about. You can’t find the right answer if you are asking the wrong question. Make sure you specifically identify the issue that is driving the decision, and the purpose of the decision. Knowing the purpose of the decision is important because it allows you to prioritize and better analyze your available options.

2. Evaluate Alternatives

This step involves research. Gather information so that you have all the possible options in front of you so that your decision will be an informed one. Once you have all the options available to you, create a list of criteria that are important to you regarding the decision you are making, and evaluate each alternative against the criteria. Make a list of the criteria and develop side by side comparisons of each alternative’s position in relation to the criteria.

3. Assess risk

For each alternative you have identified, look at the risk involved. Evaluating risk means thinking out of the box to risk that may not be explicit or obvious. Try to think a few steps ahead and mentally walk down the path of what each alternative would look like, and imagine the various road blocks you may face on that path. Risk can be financial, time-based, strategic, or personal. Think carefully when assessing the risk, you don’t want to miss any red flags!

4. Make the decision

You have clearly identified the issue, evaluated your options, and performed a risk assessment, now it’s time to take the leap. If you have completed all the previous steps effectively, you are ready to make the decision. Be confident in your decision and take action! Make sure to follow up and keep your finger on the pulse regarding to decision, to ensure that things are going as planned.

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