5 Ways to Improve Your Decision Making
by Steve Backlund
Decision making is certainly a big part of our lives. I recently read the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day. Most of these are small ones, but that is still a lot of decisions! In Proverbs, we frequently read about prioritizing wisdom. One aspect of wisdom is the ability to make decisions that lead to joy and peace rather than to stress and chaos:
“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her” (Proverbs 3:13-18).
These are great promises in finding wisdom and understanding. Assuming that our decisions are based on the Bible and not on our feelings or what is popular in culture today, we are blessed when we base our decisions in relation to the timeless principles of God’s Word. With this reality as our foundation, here are five ideas on how to improve your decision making:
Implement the 24 hour rule – Impulsive decision makers fail to consider the long term implications of what they are deciding to do. They base their choices on the emotions they feel in the moment, rather than on seeing how saying yes or no fits into bigger priorities already made. To avoid making impulsive decisions, say, “Let me get back to you tomorrow after I have had more time to think about this. If it is a bigger decision, even more time will be needed.
Only takes big risks if you have a big story from God – The Bible is filled with big risk takers. For instance, Joseph only committed to marrying a pregnant Mary after he had a powerful dream from God on the matter. We too will receive a “story” from God to do what is seemingly illogical.
Find ways to “date” your decision before you “marry” it – I tell leaders to “date” people with lesser responsibilities before they “marry” them with a big title in their ministry or organization. This principle can be carried over into decision making as well. One way to do this is by deciding in your spirit what you are going to do, and then giving God time to fully confirm before you announce your decision to others.
Clarify all your options – Anxiety about making decisions can be decreased by clearly identifying our options. Once we know what we can do, it will start a process of elimination that will help lead us to the best decision.
Make your decision in faith – Once you have done all you know to do to make the highest choice, then decide in faith. Double-mindedness is the enemy of great decision makers and great influencers. We can build the “muscle” of making decisions in faith by releasing high-level beliefs in smaller decisions we make (i.e., giving or not giving to a need, going or not going to a meeting, etc.).
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.