How to become a better decision maker

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by The Retirement Answer Man

Click here to listen to The Retirement Answer Man's accompanying podcast.

All of us can become better decision makers but we often don't realize that one of the most important realms of life we need to do that in is relating to the small things. Small things add up over time to become really big things. Just ask the alcoholic or an inmate in a penitentiary. They'll tell you that what I'm saying is true.

Are you aware of the compounding effect of small decisions?
Every one of us is a decision maker. We decide about things all the time and act on them. Getting out of bed each day. Brushing our teeth (or not). Eating healthy or unhealthy. Every one of these actions flows out of a decision we've made. But it's important that we understand that small decisions like these are not actually small in the long run. They will each have their own little impact that contributes to the whole of our lives. This podcast is all about how we can take control of those little decisions that compound over time to ensure our lives benefit from them instead of suffering from them.

If you want to be a better decision maker, it helps to define the issue.
After last week's podcast, a listener wrote me to say that one of the most important parts of his decision making paradigm comes at the very beginning of his process. He takes the time to clearly define the issue he's dealing with and why it's important. I see the logic and the wisdom of what he's saying – do you? If we don't know exactly what it is we're dealing with and why it matters we may not be as motivated to make effective decisions about it. That could result in us putting off the decision, or neglecting it.

When making decisions, Tony Robbins suggests you have a conversation with your older self.
One of the tips Tony Robbins often gives to people about the topic of decision making is to imagine yourself near the end of your life. You're still healthy, still looking good, and still have all your wits about you, but you're looking back on a lifetime of experience. What would that older self say to you about the decisions you're making right now? Is there any wise counsel to be found from that version of you? I can see how this could be a helpful way to get outside the limitations of your current thinking so that you can approach the situation with a fresh perspective.

Decision makers who are effective usually set deadlines for their decisions.
When you're faced with a decision it's easy to get caught up in the minutia of what it takes to understand the situation and actually make the decision. It's a paralysis of analysis that we all fall prey to now and then. Effective decision making requires that you set a deadline by which time you will make your decision so that you can avoid that trap. You should be wise about that timeframe so you don't cut your time frame too short, but a deadline needs to exist. This gives you some internal accountability to not only make the decision but to do the research and investigation it takes to make it wisely. That was a concept one of my listeners sent to me after last week's episode – and you can listen to today's episode to hear more listener suggestions just as good as this one.

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