How To Make Good Decisions



I came across this book titled “Decision Making by the Book” when it was offered to members of the Daily Bread. Our Daily Bread is a daily devotional for Christians available online as well as in the form of a quarterly booklet.

I subscribe to receive the quarterly booklet and like it when they offer CD’s, booklets on special topics although I don’t use the suggested daily devotions all that much.

For Christians, I think the book covers the important topic of God’s sovereign will as well as moral will. Many Christians including me, has often swayed from trying to make decisions based on what we know from the bible and what we know based on the circumstances around us at the time.

The problem with that is many times, our knowledge of what the bible says is not deep enough and we failed to look at things at a holistic manner. I’m happy to say, this book, short at it is, has managed to clear up some of the ambiguity.

Even though a large section of the initial part of the book is spent explaining God’s sovereign and moral will, I found the latter part is just as useful, even if you are not a Christian.

The reason as the author Haddon Robinson puts it, is that most of us are “self taught” when it comes to making decisions. In chapter 12, he wrote “we have been making decisions since we decided to spit out our spinach”.

So, very few has been coached on how to make good decisions. You make think that this is silly, since we have made decisions all our lives. True, yet studies have shown that a person that has been coached or taught will progress much faster and peak much higher than anyone that is self taught.

Some may argue against this point especially in the face of self learning that’s available online today. I do believe that for certain skills, training and more importantly coaching, will make a significant difference.

For example, from my own experience, many years back, I took up public speaking by joining the Toastmasters Club. While I was with the club, I found myself better as speaking with less filler words. All the common “ah’” and “uhms” were reduced. Also I noticed that many speakers or leaders don’t have an objective when they stand in front to address an audience.

Even at the basic level, Toastmasters have taught me to consider things like the difference between speaking to inform, and speaking to inspire the audience. I learned the importance of paying attention to body language, eye contact as well as the use of supporting props in speaking.

I noticed that many people, preachers included, will actually do well to join the Toastmaster for a season or two, where you spend time to prepare a speech, give it and then receive valuable critique how to make it better.

Back to the book and subject at hand. Most people just jump into decision making mode. I know I do. What I found especially useful is asking myself some of the following question as suggested in the book. It is not an all exhaustive list but I’m sure you get the idea.

  1. What exactly is the decision I have to make?
  2. How should a decision like this one be made?
  3. Should I involve other people?
  4. How important is this decision anyhow?
  5. Do I have to make this decision now?
  6. Do I have to make this decision at all?
  7. Do I need other perspectives to balance my biases or limitations?

I think the questions here gives you a different view point when you make decisions. For instance, when making investments at this time of market volatility? What would be your normal way to decide whether to invest or not?

Most likely the question you may ask yourself is one of these. It is a good time to invest? What is the best investment at a time like this? Should I invest or should I just keep cash?

On the other hand, if you used the 7 questions, you may find that the exact decision you need to make is “how do I grow my money?” And the answer maybe to consider a business, who knows.

Or instead of trying to think about all by yourself, you’ve decided to get others who are more experienced in making this decision. Like maybe get a financial planner or someone whom have a better investment track record than you.

Or you may decide that the decision is not all that crucial and you can always reverse it. For instance, you have been thinking of investing only 10% of your $100,000. And if it does not work out, you can take a hit of 50% on $10,000, which is only $5,000 and cut loss.

Seen in this light, making that decision need not be something that paralyses you into endless analysis. Just make the decision and adjust along the way.



source: How To Make Good Decisions