The ability to use good judgment in making decisions is one of the most important skills you can possess. On a daily basis, you may be barraged by mundane and potentially life-changing decisions. Making good decisions applies to multiple aspects of your life, including work, health, education, family and personal relationships. Using good judgment requires a healthy mental state, a willingness to think through issues and confidence in yourself.
Break down the elements of the decision you are faced with in your mind. Consider your objectives, alternatives, the likely consequences of your decision and any potential trade-offs. Weigh the uncertainties and any risks that come with your decision in a logical and cohesive process. This process should help clarify the decision and point the way to the right choice.
Reconfigure the issue you are facing if you are still struggling with the decision. Make diagrams and charts incorporating the various elements of the issue and display the relevant information graphically using tables. This could include listing potential pros and cons, or it could be a more in-depth project. Restate your thought process using new word arrangements, different phrasing and fresh points of emphasis.
Ask other people you respect for their advice and opinions, after describing the decision you are facing, to gain new perspectives. Speak openly about the process with trusted family members and friends. This can be advantageous because another person can bring clarity to a situation by offering an unexpected outlook.
Listen to your instincts but do not be a slave to them. Although humans are hard-wired to make snap decisions, and this approach can be helpful under certain circumstances, it is not always the best tactic. Embracing the first ideas that come into your head and hanging onto them to the exclusion of all others can lead to poor decisions.
Develop the personality traits associated with people who consistently use good judgment when making decisions. Have a high tolerance for ambiguity rather than insisting on immediate gratification in your decision-making process. Have a well-ordered sense of priority in each aspect of your life. Avoid stereotypes of all kinds, welcome feedback and be realistic about your personal strengths and limitations.
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- "Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Life Decisions"; John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney and Howard Raiffa; 2002
- "Making Great Decisions in Business and Life"; David R. Henderson and Charles L. Hooper; 2006
- University of Baltimore: Leadership Decision Making
Steven Wilkens has been a professional editor and writer since 1994. His work has appeared in national newspapers and magazines, including "The Honolulu Advertiser" and "USA Today." Wilkens received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Saint Joseph's University.