By Diane Houghtaling
With the start of a new year, our thoughts often turn to making resolutions where we’d like to see changes in our lives. But this year, I suggest we learn the skill of good decision making. When making a decision, we always have options. There are questions we need to ask ourselves before making a decision.
1. What are my options in this situation? There are no right or wrong answers at this point. This is a time to be creative and explore every possible option. Write them down for further evaluation.
2. What benefits come from each option? Make a list of any good consequences you can see coming from each option. Decide what benefits are most important to you and would contribute the most to your life.
3. What negative consequences come from each option? Write them down and carefully consider the long-term effect of each. How would they change your life? Are you willing to live with these consequences?
4. What personal values are involved in this decision? What is important to uphold in your life – integrity, honesty, loyalty, responsibility, honor, faith? Would the decision violate your personal values?
5. How will I feel afterwards? Determine if choosing an option will leave you feeling good about yourself. Will it promote positive self-worth and self-respect, or will you eventually be ashamed of your decision?
6. How will the people I value feel about me after this decision? We need the trust and respect of those we care about. Poor decision making can earn us a negative reputation that’s hard to recover from. The short-term benefits of making poor decisions can turn into long-term regrets that haunt us thereafter.
7. Is this the best time to make this decision? Many times we regret decisions made hastily or during times of stress, loneliness or emotional instability. Don’t let the situation dictate the decision but take the time to make wise choices.
8. If I were advising a friend, would I suggest they choose this option? Sometimes shifting our perspective can cause us to look differently at an option. It is sometimes beneficial to remove our feelings and not be influenced by our emotional responses to a decision.
9. After making a decision based on these questions, take the time to examine it one last time. How do I feel about this decision? If you are still in turmoil or have no peace about it, you may want to reevaluate or seek counsel.
10. It’s always good to take the time to look back over the choices and decisions we’ve made in the past. Would we do anything differently or have chosen a different option? Mistakes are never wasted if we can learn valuable lessons from them.
May this new year be the year we learn to make good decisions that we won’t have to make resolutions to change in the future.
Hope Ministries Inc. is a Christian counseling center. If you want to speak confidentially with someone, call us at (845)482-5300.