How can I make better decisions?

For many of us life seems more complex and more overwhelming now than ever before.


Every day in the modern world we are faced with so much marketing and so many choices, and then other times we can feel like we have no choice at all, especially when faced with huge life challenges and big decisions. Sometimes it feels like life is happening TO us and we are powerless to control things.

Choice and decision making seems to have evolved over the decades as well. It doesn't seem so long ago that you had your coffee black or white, with or without sugar. Fast forward to 2011 where Business Insider Australia was quoted to report over 87,000 possible drink combinations available at Starbucks, the world's top coffee retailer of the day.


According to Barry Schwartz, psychologist and author of ‘The Paradox of Choice’, while it makes sense to consider greater choice as promoting greater freedom; more choice does not necessarily equate to more satisfaction. We all want to make effective and positive decisions, although we can end up feeling dissatisfied with our choices, because of the amount of choice we have.

He suggests that ‘choice overload’ actually encourages us to question our decisions more before and after we make them and sets up unrealistically high expectations, and it helps us blame ourselves for any and all perceived failures.


Many wish that we could wind back the clock and return to a simpler time, when life wasn't full of social media, marketing and 'apps.' But of course we can't - we need to learn how to embrace choice or help it work for us.


And when we experience choice overload or we feel completely overwhelmed when faced with challenging and complex decisions, what are we most likely to do?


That's when we often do NOTHING.


Procrastination or avoidance is what typically happens when our decisions or choices seem too challenging or we have too many options to choose from. Which only sends us into more feelings of anxiety or decision paralysis.


With all this choice and complex decisions to be made, how can we build our skills for decision making or work to make better decisions? These tips might help:


1. Decisions are the only way we learn


We are making decisions all day every day, although sometimes we're not aware of it. What we'll have for breakfast, if we'll exercise today, when we'll make a cup of tea - all these little decisions are happening in our thought processes and in our actions. As Tony Robbins says 'decisions are the pathway to power', and the only way we learn anything is to act, which takes a decision. And that decision could be something we repeat again, or not.


Think about when we make a decision to try something new. To be able to learn anything new we must 'fail' at it so we can learn it. As Tony also says 'Repetition is the mother of skill.' We need to act and fail and act and fail to build a competence for anything, from tying our shoelaces to mastering a musical instrument.