7 key steps in the decision making process
By Linda Ziac
February 21, 2017
The Caregiver Resource Center
HOW MANY DECISIONS DO YOU MAKE IN A GIVEN DAY?
Would it surprise you to know that on average a person in the U.S. makes about 35,000 decisions each day?
WHAT IS DECISION MAKING?
Basically decision making is the action of choosing between 2 or more options known at any given time. When we look back on a decision hours, days or even years later, we may second guess ourselves and say “Maybe I should have done this instead.”
Hindsight is wonderful, but it often comes too late.
When making a decision we need to base our choice(s) on all the information available to us at that time. Keep in mind however, that there is nothing wrong with modifying your decision, based on new information that has become available.
It’s important to keep in mind that doing nothing, is making a decision.
DECISIONS CAN BE BROKEN DOWN INTO 3 BASIC CATEGORIES
1. Life changing decisions – e.g. getting married, having children, buy a house.
2. Major decisions – e.g. when to get up, what to eat, do I go to work or school today
3. Minor decisions – e.g. what color shirt do I wear, should I have oatmeal or eggs,
7 STEP DECISION MAKING PROCESS
Use this process to aid you in making important decisions.
STEP 1 – Identify the Decision
Identify the decision to be made. You realize that a decision must be made. You then go through an internal process of trying to define clearly the nature of the decision you must make. This first step is a very important one.
• What is the problem or situation?
• Why does this problem or situation need to be addressed?
• Who are the key people likely to be affected the problem or situation?
• Does the problem or situation have a deadline or a specific timeline?
STEP 2 – Gather Relevant Information
Gather relevant information. Most decisions require collecting pertinent information. The real trick in this step is to know what information is needed, the best sources of this information, and how to go about getting it.
Some information must be sought from within you through a process of self-assessment; other information must be sought from outside yourself from books, people, and a variety of other sources.
This step, therefore, involves both internal and external “work”.
STEP 3 – Identify the Alternatives
Identify alternatives. Through the process of collecting information you will probably identify several possible paths of action, or alternatives.
You may also use your imagination and information to construct new alternatives.
In this step of the decision making process, you will list all possible and desirable alternatives.
STEP 4 – Weigh the Evidence
Weigh evidence. In this step, you draw on your information and emotions to imagine what it would be like if you carried out each of the alternatives to the end.
You must evaluate whether the need identified in Step 1 would be helped or solved through the use of each alternative. In going through this difficult internal process, you begin to favor certain alternatives which appear to have higher potential for reaching your goal.
Eventually you are able to place the alternatives in priority order, based upon your own value system.
STEP 5 – Choose among Alternatives
Choose among alternatives. Once you have weighed all the evidence, you are ready to select the alternative which seems to be best suited to you. You may even choose a combination of alternatives.
Your choice in Step 5 may very likely be the same or similar to the alternative you placed at the top of your list at the end of Step 4.
STEP 6 - Take Action
Take action. You now take some positive action which begins to implement the alternative you chose in Step 5.
STEP 7 - Review Your Decision and Consequences
Review your decision and consequences. In the last step you experience the results of your decision and evaluate whether or not it has “solved” the need you identified in Step 1. If it has, you may stay with this decision for some period of time.
If the decision has not resolved the identified need, you may repeat certain steps of the process in order to make a new decision.
You may, for example, gather more detailed or somewhat different information or discover additional alternatives on which to base your decision.
Source: UMass Dartmouth
When making a decision it’s always a good idea to outline your options, and then weigh the pros and cons of each option. Keep in mind however, that you can always modify your decision when new information becomes available.
Photo from Microsoft
The information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Please consult your health care provider for an appointment, before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.
Linda Ziac is the owner and founder of The Caregiver Resource Center. The Caregiver Resource Center is a division of Employee Assistance Professionals, Inc. which Linda founded in October 1990. The Caregiver Resource Center provides a spectrum of concierge case management and advocacy services for seniors, people with special needs and families.
Linda’s professional career spans more than 40 years in the health and mental health field as a CT Licensed Professional Counselor, CT Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Board Certified Employee Assistance Professional, Board Certified Case Manager, and Board Certified Dementia Practitioner. In addition, Ms. Ziac has 15 years of experience coordinating care for her own parents.
Linda assists seniors, people with special needs and their families; in planning for and implementing ways to allow for the greatest degree of health, safety, independence, and quality of life. Linda meets with individuals and family members to assess their needs, and develop a Care Team, while working with members of the Team to formulate a comprehensive Care Plan (a road map).
Once a plan is in place, Linda is available to serve as the point person to monitor and coordinate services, and revise the plan as needed. This role is similar to the conductor of an orchestra; ensuring that there is good communication, teamwork, and that everyone remains focused on the desired goal.