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November 20, 2023

The 3 Enemies of Excellent Decision-Making (And How to Defeat Them)

By Craig Groeschel

You probably want to make great decisions. So do I.

But we often don’t. Instead of making a wise decision, we ...

  • Waste time.
  • Procrastinate.
  • Say things we regret.
  • Eat more than we should.
  • Buy things we can’t afford.
  • Do things we don’t want to do.
  • Hurt the people we love most.

If we want to make great decisions, what’s stopping us?

I’ve found three major enemies of great decision-making:

1. We’re overwhelmed.

Experts estimate that we make over 35,000 decisions a day. Wow. All day, every day, you and I are making decisions like:

  • Whether or not to hit snooze
  • What to wear
  • What to eat
  • Whether or not to exercise
  • Whether to post on social media
  • To dodge or engage a co-worker
  • When to check email and how to respond

While 35,000 decisions sound unbelievable at first, once we start to think about all the subconscious and split-second calls like the ones above, the reality of that huge number starts to make sense. One thing is for certain—the decisions never stop coming.

That’s why it can be so overwhelming.

We make so many choices that our decision-making muscle literally becomes tired. Cognitive scientists call it “decision fatigue.” They’ve discovered that ...

As the volume of decisions increases, the quality of decisions decreases.

One group of experts offered this explanation: “Individuals experiencing decision fatigue demonstrate an impaired ability to make trade-offs, prefer a passive role in the decision-making process, and often make choices that seem impulsive or irrational.”

That explains why you can make difficult and wise decisions all day at work and then at night binge eat and waste hours staring at a screen.

It’s because you were overwhelmed and got tired of making good decisions.

2. We’re afraid.

When it comes to big decisions, we’re often afraid of making the wrong choice.

Should I buy this car? Should I take this job offer? Should I move?

Ever heard of analysis paralysis? We look at all the options and then freeze up out of fear that we might make the wrong decision.

Analysis paralysis can leave us feeling so unsure that we just don’t decide at all. That feels safer, but we have to remember:

Indecision is a decision and often the enemy of progress.

Don’t let fear hold you back from making wise decisions today.

3. We’re emotional.

In their book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, Chip Heath and Dan Heath show that we are biologically hard-wired to act foolishly and behave irrationally. They explain how our emotions are an enemy of excellent decision-making. We let emotion overrule logic.

We’ve all experienced this.

We don’t want to yell at our children; but then our kid does something so frustrating. Logic says: Be patient. But emotion says: Yell as loud as you can. And emotion overrides logic.

When it comes to critical decisions, our emotions are hard-wired to take over, and we react in the moment.

To make good decisions, we need to think logically, not emotionally.

So What’s the Solution?

We need to make important decisions ahead of time.

When we face an important decision, we need to have already asked ourselves:

  • What are the consequences of this choice?
  • What path does this decision put me on?
  • Is this the right decision to make today to have the life I want tomorrow?

These questions empower us to make wise decisions ahead of time so we don’t make overwhelmed, fearful, or emotional decisions in the moment.

For more on making wise decisions, get my newest book Think Ahead: 7 Decisions You Can Make Today for the God-Honoring Life You Want Tomorrow.

It’s time to start experiencing the joy and freedom God has for you! It’s time to Think Ahead.

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