Decision Making & Problem Solving

Life can be viewed as a constant series of decisions that determines the outcome of one’s life. Rational decisions enable one to “take charge” of their lives.

Process of Decision Making. Understand the problem and goals clearly; therefore consider wide variety of alternative courses of action, the creation of many possible solutions to the problem. Collect all the available information. Weigh the pros and cons of each course of action and then decide on one that you can commit yourself to fully. The purpose of decision making are:

  • To make decisions more rationally and wisely.
  • To recognize that we really do have a choice about many important things in our lives
  • To avoid making decisions sloppily or by default
  • To avoid a variety of irrational ideas, false assumptions, fears, needs and other emotions that block good decision-making.
Step One
Decide if there is a problem. A problem well stated is half solved. If so, describe and understand the problem; See some solutions; and accept the challenge to tackle the problem.
  • Is there a problem?
  • Am I exaggerating or minimizing the problem?
  • If serious difficulties involved, ask- are there solutions to the problem?
  • Is it a manageable, solvable problem?
  • Am I overly optimistic or pessimistic?
  • The situation may be an opportunity rather than a problem.
  • Am I willing to accept the challenge with enthusiasm
  • List down helpful forces and harmful forces pushing you / restraining you from reaching your goal.
Step Two
  • Now decide what you want in the future?
  • What do you value?
  • Set major goals in terms of specific behaviours.
  • What should take priority in your life? (Socializing, work, romance, sex, family, money, health, children, being alone, comfortable, status, looks, education, religion, playing, thinking, art, music, excitement or pleasure). If you do not know your priorities, you can’t decide where to go in life.
Step Three
  • Think of as many solutions and courses of action as you can.
  • If you can’t find any good solution, gather ideas from experts or experienced people. Brainstorming in a group is a better way (The more solutions generated the better, Suspend judgement and the quality of idea, The greater variety of ideas, more likely to find a good solution)
  • Identify most promising ideas, combine solutions and improves each alternative with possible approaches to problem.
  • No good idea or compromise is overlooked.
  • If the problem is tough, give yourself time.
  • Build up faith in your ability to eventually decide and cope.
  • Avoid thinking in terms of ‘either’ ‘or’ (e.g. either I go to college or I don’t)
Step Four
Every decision maker needs to know the psychological forces that block intelligent decisions in order to guard against the pitfalls.
  • When people become resigned or detached” I don’t care”
  • They are paralysed - unfeeling, unemotional, uninvolved and indecisive.
  • Self-doubt and self-defeating acts - anxiety, depression, suppressed anger, lack of hope interferes with decision.
  • An exaggerated notion of one-self may lead to bad decisions
  • Being overly dependent – handicaps the decision-maker
  • Wishful thinking in many forms messes up decision-making
  • Blaming/ abusing oneself after making a poor decision may lead to avoidance of making decisions in the future.
  • If certain outcomes scare us, the tendency is not to consider those alternatives.
  • Emotions cause us to rush decisions
  • Group decisions may solve problems better than individual decisions – if the group members are competent and work well together.
  • Group decisions inhibited by overenthusiastic pleasing group members or when there is negative atmosphere.
Step Five
  • Consider carefully each of the alternatives
  • What are the pros and cons of each choice?
  • How does each choice fit with your priorities?
  • How do you feel about each choice?
Two aspects to consider:
  • Facts about each choice (How you feel about the future implied by each choice? Consider your assets and resources to overcome the problem and opposing force. Whether the course of action is in keeping with or in conflict with your values)
  • Consider subjective, intuitive or vague feelings-oriented reactions. (Ask yourself- what is the best that could happen if I make this choice? What is the worst that could happen? Are there ways to improve the ‘wrong’ that could happen if I make this choice? Your feelings, needs and wants must be given serious attention)
Step Six
Select the best solution from among the alternatives you have considered.
  • Dreaming about a problem they are trying to solve.
  • Consciously think about the situation;
  • The alternatives
  • Their feelings and different choices
  • Possible long-range outcome
Step Seven
  • Accepting the best choice
  • Let it sink in…
  • Stop obsessing about the decision
  • Let go of the unselected options
  • Give yourself a time limit to make a decision;
  • Receive all the information and go with what seems like the best choice
  • Quickly give up the rejected alternatives.
Step Eight
  • Throw yourself into carrying out the decision
  • Make a specific plan and schedule the work
  • No decision if there is no action (Solutions don’t usually end with decision - they begin there - “a poor decision well executed is better than a good decision poorly executed”)
  • Need a well thought out and detailed plan re: how to succeed and how to deal with possible problem
  • You need energy, hope time and dedication (Frequently evaluate the effectiveness of your action and make changes in your plans accordingly)
  • Take pride in your decisiveness.

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