“Make good choices!” Am I the only one whose mother said these 3 words to me every time I left the house growing up? I used to find this statement mildly obnoxious and repetitive. But now I realize that I could have saved myself a whole lot of heartache if I had simply listened to my mother’s sage wisdom.
When you make good choices in life, you reap rewards that last far beyond the present moment. And you feel empowered and content when you make choices that are aligned with the type of person you desire to become.
If making good choices just sounds like an intangible cliché, then read this article to learn how you can take actionable steps towards creating a desirable future with the decisions you make today.
- What makes something a good decision?
- What happens when you make bad decisions?
- 5 tips to make good choices
- Wrapping up
This article is part of a much bigger guide on learning how to become happy that I’m sure is the biggest freely available guide on the internet. This article contains some great tips, but you’ll find a lot more actionable tips in the section Happiness Tips!
What makes something a good decision?
This is a loaded question. And to be quite frank, the answer depends heavily on the person asking the question.
However, science has done its best to try to define what constitutes a good decision. In the field of medicine, this study determined that a good decision can be made when one has sufficient subjective and emotional knowledge on the topic and is able to anticipate what would happen in alternative scenarios.
When the provider incorporates all these elements, they have made “a good decision”.
For me personally, a good decision at its most basic level is one in which I am pleased with the outcome and do no harm to others in the process of making the decision.
At the end of the day, only you can answer this question. But take some time to do so because if you’re not sure what you consider a good decision, it’s awfully hard to figure out how to go about making them.
What happens when you make bad decisions?
When I make bad decisions, I am almost instantly overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and shame. And if not in that moment, those emotions are sure to follow in the days to come after the decision has been made.
Research has found that when you make a bad decision it is a sign you are not acting consistently with your definition of good behavior. And thus, this results in feeling a sense of regret because you are acting inconsistently with who you know you are deep down.
Anytime the word bad is in front of the word decision, you can anticipate that you are going to end up feeling bad. And no one enjoys going through life with a sense of regret and guilt.
So it seems to me that learning how to make good choices in life is a worthwhile pursuit. Or at least if you are aiming for happiness.
5 tips to make good choices
So if you’re ready to finally listen to your mother’s advice and make some good choices, let’s explore helpful ways you can go about doing just that.
1. Ask yourself if the choice feels instinctively good
I often know instinctively when I am about to make a good or bad decision. All I really have to do is ask myself, “How does this decision make me feel?”
If the answer is bad, I generally would recommend avoiding making that decision.
Now of course there are exceptions to this rule. But the vast majority of decisions you make in life can easily be navigated by asking yourself that question.
To illustrate my point, let’s throw it all the way back to my high school days. I had to decide if I wanted to stay with my boyfriend who – to put it nicely – was a total dufus.
I knew that when I thought about continuing to date him I felt like I was going to throw up. But I was afraid of hurting his feelings. So in typical teenage girl fashion, I took forever to decide and probably caused more harm than good in doing so.
But once I broke up with him, I felt a sense of peace. And that right there is how you know you made a good decision.
2. Research the possible outcomes
If you have to make a really big choice in life, it just makes sense that you should be as informed as you can possibly be before making that choice. Because how are you supposed to make a good decision, when you’re not sure which choice is actually the good one?
- It’s beneficial to use Google to scope out potential outcomes of a choice, but your research may take on other forms as well.
- Call up a friend who has been in a similar situation and ask what they did. You can then evaluate if their outcome aligns with what you’re trying to achieve.
- Or maybe you literally put out a poll on social media to hear what your followers have to say on the matter.
We have access to limitless resources when it comes to figuring out the outcome of a choice, so there is no excuse to not do a bit of investigating to figure out which choice is truly the good one.
3. Surround yourself with people who make good choices
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that says something along the lines of you will become the five people you spend the most time with. Well, folks, I’m here to tell you it’s true.
I used to hang out with a group in college that made the worst life choices. These people spent Friday nights partying, and their greatest ambition was figuring out if the guy on Tinder really did like them as more than a friend.
One Saturday morning I woke up and realized that if I kept hanging around these people, I was bound to fall short of my aspirations. Not to mention, the bill for college is way too expensive to be mucking around.
So I started hanging out with a nerdier group. And as it turns out, I was happier embracing my inner nerd and I began to make choices that aligned with my personal vision for my life.
If you find yourself stuck in a rut of making decisions that leave you unsatisfied, maybe it’s time to find a new gang of friends and colleagues.
4. Read autobiographies or biographies of people you admire
History is chock full of people who have made good decisions. And also a lot who have made not-so-good decisions.
But the good news is you can leave the books about the people who made poor life decisions on the shelves. Pick up an autobiography about someone who made decisions that led them to where you want to be instead.
Because when I read about these types of people, I gain insight into their personal code of conduct and how they made choices. And then I can replicate those good decisions.
One of my personal favorite biographies is about Abraham Lincoln. If you want to understand how to make good and just choices under high pressure, take notes from the man whose face is plastered all over your five-dollar bills.
5. Learn from your bad choices
Remember that time you texted your ex at midnight full on knowing that the outcome was not going to be ideal? Yeah, it’s time to learn from that choice and to just delete your ex’s number from your phone.
We have all made our share of poor choices. But the silver lining is these poor decisions help to clearly direct us to good decisions if we are willing to learn from them.
If last week you spent more than you should have on your fiftieth pair of shoes from Amazon, save you and your budget some stress by making better choices this week.
Your life experience is often the best map when it comes to navigating the decision-making process in life.
So I guess I have to stop rolling my eyes when my mom tells me to make good choices. Because if I actually listen to her, I can start making decisions that set me up for success and satisfaction in life. And I have a strange feeling that one day I will be the mom saying those same three words and hoping my kids actually heed my advice.
What’s your take on this? Are you good at making good decisions in your life? Which tip did you find most useful? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!