Decision-making is acting upon a preference. A decision is the result of going through a process of inquiry that incorporates choice making and then deciding and being determined to pursue the achievement of the decision (Wehmeyer, 1997).
Some decisions will probably turn out to be good and other decisions will be bad. Decision-making would be easier if we always knew what the outcome might be. Unfortunately, the outcome is usually a best guess. One method of improving decision-making is to practice using a good decision-making process such as the one outlined below.
What do you need to make a decision about? Maybe you want to save some money in order to buy a CD player. Your friends are frequently asking you to go to the movies or to go shopping with them. You don’t want to upset your friends but you really want that new CD player.
Sometimes the best decision will be very clear when you list your options. Consider the following choices when trying to figure out how to save money for a CD player and still socialize with your friends. Some possible choices in this decision include:
You are never going to know exactly what the outcome of a decision might be until you make the decision. However, listing the possible outcomes may lead to some additional alternatives. For example, some possible outcomes might include:
Some outcomes may be more likely than others. It is not always possible to know the outcome for any decision. However, our past experiences might help us to identify what outcomes are more likely than other outcomes.
Consider the importance of the different outcomes with the likelihood that the outcome will occur and then make a decision. Your decision should be based on the likelihood of the outcomes as well as what is best for you in the long run.
The last thing you have to do is actually carry out your decision. If, in the above example, you decided to save the money for a CD player and to invite your friends over to watch a movie then you have to call them up and ask them to come over.
Page updated 10/30/06
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Michigan State University Counseling Center. (2003). Overview of decision making. Retrieved February 25, 2004 from Michigan State University Counseling Center Web site: http://www.couns.msu.edu/self-help/decisions.htm
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Wehmeyer, M.L., Agran, M., Palmer, S.B., & Mithaug, D. (1999). Educational support: Choice- and decision-making instruction. In A teacher’s guide to implementing the self-determined learning model of instruction: Adolescent version (pp. 54-62). Unpublished manuscript, University of Kansas, Beach Center on Disability, Lawrence.