Aug 21, 2023
Boost Your Life: Enhance Your Decision-Making Skills

Mastering the art of decision-making is a journey that requires a deeper understanding of what guides our actions and choices. It involves an intricate interplay of factors that range from our intrinsic character traits, cultural upbringing, and external pressures, to our personal information processing styles. By identifying and comprehending these determinants of decisions, we empower ourselves to make more informed and better choices in our personal and professional lives. Furthermore, recognizing common culprits of poor decision-making such as biases and knee-jerk reactions helps us avoid the pitfalls that often cloud our judgment. Armed with this knowledge and the structured steps towards making an effective decision, we can significantly improve our decision-making skills.

Determinants of Making Decisions

Personal Character Traits and Decision Making

One’s personality traits significantly affect the decision-making process. Individuals with high levels of conscientiousness, for example, tend to think thoroughly before making decisions, leading to well-organized and planned choices. On the other hand, those who rank high on impulsivity may make quicker, less thought-out decisions. Recognizing personal character traits can enable one to compensate for potentially detrimental tendencies and leverage beneficial ones to enhance decision making.

The Influence of Upbringing on Decision Making

Upbringing also plays a critical role in shaping our decision-making skills. Individuals raised in high-stress environments may develop decision-making strategies based on survival necessities rather than long-term benefits. In contrast, individuals raised in nurturing environments could be more likely to weigh up options carefully and consider impacts of decisions before choosing. Acknowledging the impact of one’s upbringing can open up opportunities for improving decision-making skills via self-awareness and personal growth.

The Role of Culture in Decision Making

Cultural influences also play a substantial role in decision-making processes. Each culture has unique values and norms that inform what decisions are seen as preferable or beneficial. For instance, in individualistic cultures like the United States, decisions that prioritize the individual’s needs might be seen positively. However, in collectivist cultures, such as in many parts of Asia, decisions that benefit the community are valued. Being aware of these cultural biases can help in making more impartial and effective decisions.

External Pressures and Decision Making

Pressure from external factors like societal expectations, peer influence, or time constraints can heavily influence decision making. Under high-pressure situations, individuals may make hurried, less-considered decisions, whereas, in low-pressure environments, decisions can be more analytical. Recognizing the effects of external pressures can allow us to mitigate their impact and make more informed decisions.

Information Processing Styles and Decision Making

People process and act on information differently, and their information processing style can greatly affect their decision making. Analytical processors, for example, may excel at making complex decisions due to their ability to break down information, identify patterns, and predict outcomes. However, they might struggle with quick decision making. In contrast, intuitive processors can make decisions quickly based on instinct or pattern recognition, but might struggle when decisions require careful deliberation. Understanding our information processing style can allow us to adapt our decision-making strategies to our natural strengths and deficiencies.

Grasping the Crucial Determinants of Decision Making

Remarkably enhancing your decision-making skills requires a thorough understanding of the key elements behind it. This pivotal grasp allows individuals to identify their core strengths and areas of improvement, and provides them with a structure to progress and develop as accomplished decision-makers. This includes elements like personal character traits, early upbringing, cultural influences, external pressures, and various styles of information processing. A mindful awareness of these diverse aspects can lead to a significant enhancement in your decision-making skills.

Image describing various factors that influence decision making

Common Pitfalls in Decision-Making

Identifying Common Challenges in the Process of Decision Making

Being proficient in making optimal decisions is a critical ability needed in our personal and professional lives. However, there are pronounced pitfalls which could potentially undermine our decision-making capabilities. These challenges frequently occur in the form of biases, impulsive reactions, indecision, and overconfidence. Recognizing and understanding these pitfalls can greatly increase your effectiveness when faced with decision-making scenarios.

Biases in Decision-Making

Bias is one of the most pervasive pitfalls in decision-making. Biases, whether conscious or unconscious, can greatly skew our perception and judgement. Confirmation bias, for example, leads individuals to favor information that confirms their existing beliefs, thereby disregarding evidence to the contrary. Anchor bias causes people to heavily rely on the first piece of information they receive, which can result in myopic decisions.

Bias mitigation involves creating a balanced judgement environment. This is often achieved by seeking diverse perspectives, questioning assumptions diligently, and ensuring systematic rational analysis of information.

Knee-Jerk Reactions

Knee-jerk reactions are immediate and automatic responses made without sufficient thought. This impulsive decision-making often bypasses logical reasoning for the sake of immediacy. To manage this, one should practice patience and take time to assess the situation before making a decision.


Indecisiveness can be just as detrimental as hasty decision-making. The reluctance to commit to a decision often results in lost opportunities. Overcoming indecisiveness largely involves understanding that decisions may not always yield perfect outcomes. It’s essential to make the best choice with the information available at the time, and adjust accordingly as new information or situations arise.


Overconfidence in decision-making can lead to substantial errors in judgement and risky behavior. Overconfident individuals often underestimate the probability of unfavorable outcomes due to their inflated belief in their own abilities or control over events.

To avoid overconfidence, it’s necessary to objectively assess one’s competence and knowledge. Encouraging humility and allowing for the possibility of error can check overconfidence, and foster thoughtful analysis of a decision-making situation.

The Role of Self-Awareness in Decision-Making

The journey towards enhanced decision-making skills begins with self-awareness. Being aware of common decision-making pitfalls and recognizing one’s individual tendencies towards bias, impulsiveness, indecision, or overconfidence, enables a person to take proactive measures to avoid them. This awareness is an essential key to better decisions as it allows for the conscious effort to refine these habits, resulting in a more thoughtful and fact-based decision-making process.

An image depicting various roadsigns, representing different pitfalls in decision-making.

Steps to Making an Effective Decision

Understanding the Problem Clearly

An integral part of improving the decision-making skill set is the ability to accurately identify and define the problem you’re addressing. The success of your decision is directly proportional to how well you understand the issue. Without a clear comprehension of what needs to be resolved, developing a valid solution becomes an insurmountable challenge. Hence, it is recommended to spend considerable time elucidating the exact nature of your problem. Disassemble your predicament into smaller, digestible elements, and unmask hidden issues contributing to your obstacle. This step will not only clarify your problem, but it also simplifies the decision-making process by streamlining the complexities involved.

Gathering Information

Once the problem is clearly defined, it’s time to gather the needed information to understand the full scope of the situation. This includes understanding the root of the issue, its potential impact, and any possible constraints in resolving it. Collecting relevant data is critical to gaining insight that can guide your decision-making process. You can do this through research, interviews, surveys, or observation, depending on your problem’s nature and size. Information helps illuminate blind spots and exposes you to diverse perspectives, promoting a more rounded and informed decision.

Generating Alternatives

The next step in effective decision-making is to generate multiple alternatives. A common error is to latch onto the first solution that comes to mind which traps your thinking and limits creativity. Instead, brainstorm a broad set of potential solutions considering different angles and perspectives. This process encourages out-of-the-box thinking and heightens the chance of finding a novel and powerful solution. The key here is not to judge each idea as it surfaces; that comes later. For now, focus on quantity to maximize your options.

Evaluating Options

After generating alternatives, the task is to evaluate each option against your predetermined criteria. Here, you scrutinize each potential solution for its feasibility, affordability, acceptability, and effectiveness. A helpful tool for this process is a decision matrix which allows you to rate each idea against the criteria. As you evaluate the alternatives, it’s critical to remain objective and unbiased to ensure the most fitting solution is chosen.

Implementing the Decision

As a final step in improving your decision-making skills, it’s essential to take definitive action. Merely making an excellent decision isn’t enough; it must be successfully implemented. Be prepared to face potential obstacles by developing a comprehensive action plan that includes mitigation strategies. Continual monitoring of the progress will ensure you’re on the right path, with corrective measures deployed swiftly should any deviations occur. This way, you’ll effectively maximize the advantages of your chosen decision.

Illustration of a person thinking and evaluating choices, representing the decision-making process for visually impaired individuals.

Decision-Making Tools and Techniques

Evaluating with Pros and Cons Lists

Before getting to the point of implementation, it’s beneficial to make use of a basic but highly effective decision-making tool: pros and cons lists. Here, you’ll weigh the positive and negative aspects of your possible decisions, giving you a broad perspective on all the factors at play. This isn’t just a listing exercise. You should consider each point thoughtfully to ensure that you’re fully informed and prepared to make your decision, which will eventually be put into action as described above.

Weighted Scoring Systems

Weighted scoring systems offer a more complex decision-making technique. Each potential choice is assigned multiple criteria that are individually rated based on their importance. Each criterion is given a weight that reflects its importance, which is then multiplied by the rate you’ve assigned the criterion. Once all weightages and scores are accounted for, decisions can be objectively analyzed based on their cumulative scores.

Decision Trees

Decision trees offer a visual perspective to your decision-making process. These diagrams start with a single node, then branch out into multiple paths each representing a possible decision or occurrence. These branches can further branch out, creating a comprehensive network of possibilities, allowing you to analyze all potential outcomes in detail.

SWOT Analysis

The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a strategic decision-making tool that forces you to contemplate various factors that could affect your decision. The strengths and weaknesses scrutinize internal factors while opportunities and threats analyze external elements. This tool can be combined with weighted scoring systems for a more comprehensive decision-making method.

Mind Mapping

Mind maps provide a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts surrounding our decisions. By creating a central node and then connecting thoughts, options, choices, pros, cons, and other relevant factors to that central node, you can group and visualize connections more easily, leading to better decision-making.

Software Tools

Although the prior tools involve manual labor, there are also software programs that can facilitate complex decision-making processes. Programs such as Decision Matrix Analysis, Paired Comparison Analysis, or software for building complex decision trees automate the decision-making process. They can assist with complex multi-stage decisions involving numerous variables or when the decision affects a team or group, necessitating the need for a consensus decision.

Continual Learning and Application

Remember, improving decision-making skills is a continual process. Employing a combination of these various tools and techniques regularly can lead to more objective, well-rounded decision-making skills. It is also important to perform a post-decision review to learn from every decision, regardless of the outcome, to continue to refine and enhance your decision-making abilities.

Take Regular Breaks

It’s crucial to embrace the concept of taking breaks to elevate the quality of your decision-making. Continuous decision-making can often cause decision fatigue which deteriorates the quality of the choices made. By stepping back and taking a breather, you allow yourself to return to the decision-making process with renewed energy and a clear mind.

Illustration of various decision-making tools, including pros and cons lists, weighted scoring systems, decision trees, SWOT analysis, mind mapping, software tools, continual learning and application, and taking breaks.

Improving Decision-Making Skills with Self Awareness

Becoming Self-Aware to Improve Decision-Making

Incorporating self-awareness into your decision-making skill set can further enhance the quality of your choices. When you understand your thoughts, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses, you can make more informed decisions. Self-aware individuals tend to be more focused, have a better idea of their motivations and behaviors, are more attuned to their emotional state, and have the ability to recognize and control their biases.

The Role of Emotions in Decision Making

Emotions are an inherent part of us and they inform the decisions we make. Emotionally self-aware individuals adapt well to changing circumstances because they understand and manage their emotional responses better. This is especially important in high-stress or high-stake scenarios where unregulated emotions could lead to impulsive and potentially detrimental decisions. Having emotional self-awareness also helps individuals anticipate and consider the emotional responses of others as well, leading to empathetic and thoughtful decisions.

Strengths, Weaknesses, and Decision Making

Being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses can direct well-informed and balanced decisions. Strengths can be leveraged to maximize the positive outcomes while weaknesses can be addressed proactively to minimize potential drawbacks. An honest appraisal of capabilities can result in successful decision making as unrealistic expectations or unnecessary risks are avoided.

Personal Bias and Decision Making

Personal bias can significantly affect the decision-making process. Biases can cloud judgment and lead to poor decisions. However, by being self-aware, individuals can identify their biases and work on addressing them. This can lead to more objective, fair, balanced decisions. Whether it’s unconscious biases towards certain people or subject matter, or biases formed from past experiences, being aware of these can significantly enhance the decision-making process.

Practices to Improve Self-Awareness for Decision Making

Practices like mindfulness and self-reflection can improve the self-awareness element of decision-making skills. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can help individuals focus on their current state and understand their emotions better. Self-reflection, on the other hand, is about looking back at past decisions to understand what influences led to those choices and learning from them to improve future decision-making.

How Self Awareness Improves Decision Quality

Self-awareness not only improves decision quality but also reduces the likelihood of negative consequences resulting from poor decisions. By understanding one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and biases, one can make decisions that align with their personal values and long-term goals. Self-awareness allows for rational and objective thinking which leads to consistent and reliable decision-making outcomes.

Illustration of a person with arrows pointing towards their brain and heart, symbolizing the connection between self-awareness and decision making.

The voyage towards becoming adept at decision-making does not end here. It’s a ceaseless process of learning and unlearning, becoming self-aware, embracing our strengths, and tackling our weaknesses head-on. Self-awareness plays an invaluable role in guiding us towards more careful, considered decisions, enabling us to balance emotion and logic correctly. More so, it allows us to understand and rectify our biases, ultimately leading to better decision-making outcomes. With an array of decision-making tools and techniques at our disposal, we can navigate even the most complex decisions with ease and confidence. It is through this perpetual process of growing self-awareness and active utilization of decision-making tools that we continuously improve our decision-making skills.

I hope this article has been helpful. If you have any questions or contributions, please feel free to ask.



Felix A. Duyilemi is the world’s #1 Greatness and Leadership Coach who specializes in helping people create extraordinary results by becoming aware of their infinite potential. He is the creator of  1000X Results Coaching Program, a Coaching Program designed to skyrocket your results.

Felix A. Duyilemi is the author of the Award-winning book, “How to Borrow God’s Brain to Succeed” and other top-rated books and has giving more than  5000 talks on subjects ranging from Success Ideation, Mindset, Leadership and Potential Maximization. His latest book is “How to Monetize Your Brain.”

When he’s not learning, or coaching or speaking, he’s at home enjoying the company of his amazing family!


Reach him at [email protected]

Credit: Writio

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