Life is full of decisions. We make hundreds of decisions every day. Most of these decisions are minor and barely require any thought. We decide when to get up in the morning, what clothes to wear, what to eat for lunch, and what groceries to buy. But occasionally, we need to make major decisions that have far-reaching consequences. That’s why the ability to make smart, rational decisions is so important.

When you need to make an important decision, using a basic, five-step decision-making process can be really helpful. It can help you tackle important decisions in a logical, reasonable fashion.

The five steps are as follows:

  • Step 1 – Clearly state the decision.
    You need to make sure that you understand the decision to be made. Ask yourself… “What do I need to decide?” “Why is this decision necessary?” “What am I trying to accomplish?”
  • Step 2 – Determine your options and gather information.
    You need to figure out what your options are. This can sometimes take a lot of thought and creativity! With some decisions, you might find that you only have two options: either you take a certain course of action or you don’t. But with other decisions, you might find that you have a lot of different options. For instance, let’s say that you were trying to decide where to go on vacation. After thinking about it and reading a few different guidebooks, you might find that you have five different locations to choose from. Once you determine your options, you need to gather information about those options. This might require you to do a little research. You could read a book or magazine article, do a search on the internet, or talk to people whom you consider to be knowledgeable. To make a good decision, you need to be well informed.
  • Step 3 – Weigh your options.
    Now you need to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option. This step will help you to pull together the information that you gathered in step two and organize your thoughts.
  • Step 4 – Make your decision.
    This is the challenging part! You need to choose one of your options.
  • Step 5 – Evaluate your decision.
    You can learn a lot from looking back on the decisions that you’ve made and examining the consequences of those decisions. Ask yourself… “Did I make a good decision?” “Did things turn out the way I expected them to?” “Should I have made a different choice?” “Why or why not?” You can become a better decision maker by recognizing your areas of weakness and making improvements.

Using a decision-making process can be time consuming. And it definitely takes effort! But it can help you to organize your thoughts and evaluate your options. Ultimately, it can help you to make better, more logical decisions.