Distinguishing Types of Decisions

Three Types of Decisions

Understand the Decision Problem Before Plunging In

Distinguishing Types of Decisions--Understand the decision problem before plunging In.

Three Types of Decisions

Because decisions come in many forms and sizes, it is helpful to categorize them into three types:

(1) big, life- shaping decisions,

(2) significant decisions to consider seriously; and

(3) in-the-moment decisions that seem inconsequential or require an immediate response.

1. Big Life-Shaping Decisions. For youth, big decisions might be what career to pursue, whether to take a year off before college, or how to change study habits.

2. Significant Decisions Significant decisions might be selecting a summer internship, deciding among extracurricular activities, or considering whether to continue or end a relationship.

3. In-the-Moment Decisions In-the-moment decisions range from benign—what to order at a restaurant—to the possibly life-changing— whether to be a passenger in a car with a friend who has been drinking.

Process That Accommodates All Three Types:

When we declare a decision to be big (life shaping), we need to take the time and effort to iterate through the decision process. This approach is also effective for significant decisions and may be accomplished with fewer iterations.

In-the-moment decisions are different because we don’t or can’t take the time to consider them carefully. When driving a car or playing a sport, we must rely on automatic responses and make judgments instantly. The decision amounts to a reflex or a habit that can be well honed—a product of good decision habits. Yet small, in the-moment decisions may, over time, prove to have a greater influence on our lives than significant ones.

Thus, it is important to develop good habits.

How to Distinguish Types of Decisions

Ask yourself

• What kind of decision is this?

• How great is the commitment and what is at stake?

• Can it be easily reversed or not?

• How much time do I have to make it?

• Should I escalate the decision to a higher level?

• Does delay have serious consequences?

Tools and Good Practice

• Size up what kind of decisions you face.

• When in doubt, ask others.

• Use the version of the decision-making approach that fits the decision type.

• Practice good decision behavior until becomes a habit.

Traps to Avoid

• Shooting from the hip when facing life-shaping or significant decisions

• Escalating every decision into a life-shaping decision

• Getting bogged down on insignificant decisions

• Considering all in-the-moment decisions as unimportant—they may be the decision habits that shape your life

• Not taking the time to stop and think