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How to Make Wise Decisions that are in Alignment with Yourself

True happiness is a hard thing to find. Oftentimes we find ourselves sacrificing ourselves for others, and ultimately end up unhappy with the outcome. To avoid this, understanding what goes into good decision-making can be crucial to ensuring that all those involved are satisfied.

Finding Your Values 

To ensure that your decisions are in alignment with yourself, you need to determine your values. Your values help determine your priorities and can inform your career, finances, relationships, health, and your understanding of your place in the world. 

In their essence, values are words that mean something to you. Examples of values include words like balance, family, discipline, ambition, and freedom. To determine your values, you can look through the lists of examples online, as well as reflect upon your own experiences. Think about moments that you were truly happy and understand what it is that caused that happiness. The same thing goes for determining what it is that inspires you. On the other hand, think back to moments where you were unsatisfied or even angry. What caused those feelings? 

Finally, envision yourself living your best life where you are completely satisfied with your life’s outcome. Identify the characteristics that make this envisioning of your life the best. Are you surrounded by friends and family? Have you become a leader in your industry? Are you in good health? Take note of everything.

Determine one word for each of the examples you write down. So, if one of the examples has a strong creative theme, write “creativity” next to that example.

At this point, you’ve probably developed a pretty long list of values. The next step is to group them into categories by identifying the centralized theme. For instance, values like creativity, imagination, and art, can all be grouped together. Determine one word to describe the theme of the entire group. By the end of this exercise, you should have narrowed your values down to 3-5 words.

Now, come up with your own personalized definition for each of your values and make sure that your definition is somewhat broad and actionable. For example, one possible definition for balance may be, “ensuring that the amount of energy I give to others, is equal to the amount of energy I give to myself.” This definition can apply to career goals, financial goals, relationship goals, and health goals. Also, remember that values come from experience. So, whatever you write down now, may change once you’ve started actioning that value. 

Finally, order your values based upon priority. Sometimes you may be required to sacrifice one value in order to uphold another. 

Decision-Making 

To make wise decisions, one needs to use their experience, knowledge, and good judgment. 

Experience

So, this means remembering your values, while also being aware of your personal biases and motivations. 

This also means reflecting upon applicable past experiences to remember what worked, what didn’t, and why a specific outcome occurred. Then those lessons need to be applied to the decision you are currently trying to make.

Knowledge 

Leave emotion out of it and gather as much information is necessary in making this decision. Ensure that you are writing everything down and are aware of all factors involved. If you need guidance or extra support, reach out to someone who may have more knowledge than you in this particular area. This can be a financial advisor, career coach, health professional, or someone who’s judgment you trust and respect.

Ensure as well that you identify alternative paths that you can take, and all consequences and risks involved and how you plan to handle them. 

Good Judgment 

Sometimes called common sense, good judgment really refers to having a good sense of self-awareness. Be aware of how your opinion colours your perspective, and how your opinion can differ from your research and the facts presented. Consider the broader context of your decision and how it will impact those around you. Read the room and be mindful of the setting, like the severity of your decision and how it’s being applied, as well as the perspectives of others. Also, be prepared to pivot when presented with new information.

Lauren Schwartz | Staff Writer

Spring 2024

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