Making bad decisions is sometimes inevitable, and in fact, can be a very good thing. A poor decision can help us to learn what we truly want out of life. It can also be a cautionary tale that lets us know what not to do.

Nevertheless, chances are you want to make better decisions. Some decisions are relatively small, like eating a salad instead of a cheese pizza. Others can change the course of your life: getting married, choosing a college to attend, taking one job rather than another, moving across the country.

No matter how big or how small, you can learn how to think a decision through and thereby improve the outcome. Here’s how:

1. Ask Yourself Some Questions

Imagine that your friend or sister was contemplating the choice that is in front of you. What would you ask her? Ask yourself those same questions — and be honest! A few suggestions include:

  • What do I want out of life?
  • Will this path move me closer to that goal?
  • What are the pros and cons?
  • Will this decision cost me things that are valuable to me — relationships, my job, my security, or my time? Is it worth it?
  • What happens if this decision doesn’t work out? How will I feel, and where would I go from there?

It might be helpful to write out your answers. Sometimes, the act of writing can help clarify your thoughts about a topic.

2. Visualize the Outcome(s)

Where do you see yourself in a year? Take time to visualize all of the possible outcomes. Imagine the changes you will have made to your life. Look at all aspects of these imaginary futures. Try to consider every detail.

Sure, it’s difficult to predict what life has in store for you, unless you find a way to get a free psychic reading. But give it your best guess. Then figure out how you feel about the scenarios you’ve imagined. You may then have a clearer idea of what to choose.

3. Go With Your Gut

Western society tends to value statistics, science, and hard evidence rather than “going with one’s gut.” But it turns out that trusting our intuition isn’t as new-agey or nebulous as we might think. Intuition comes from patterns we’ve experienced and stored away in our brains as valuable info.

For example, has a romantic partner ever said to you, “We have to talk”? If so, you understand that what’s coming probably isn’t good news.

Going with your intuition is not the same as making a snap or impulsive decision. In fact, it can often be the opposite: listening to that little voice that keeps telling you, over the days or weeks as you struggle to make your decision, which way to turn.

Yes, You Can Make Better Decisions!

Making good decisions is largely a matter of practice. If you screw up and make a mistake, learn from the experience. When you have chosen wisely, examine the process that got you there. Using your intuition, your imagination, and your intelligent questions, you’ll soon learn to make better decisions — and have a better life!

Have you ever made a really bad, or really good decision? How did you decide? Connect with us on social media and have your say!