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4 Steps to Making Better Decisions

4 Steps to Making Better Decisions
By Allison Takeda, PARADE

Whether choosing an investment or debating a new career path, we all struggle with making decisions. But with the right approach, even the toughest calls can be a little easier. Here's what experts advise.

Take Your Time
A study from the University of New South Wales in Australia found that careful, rational deliberation results in good decisions more often than going with your gut. It pays to review all the relevant information and then make an educated choice rather than an easy one. 

Limit Your Options
Less is more. In a study by Columbia University Prof. Sheena Iyengar, shoppers at a gourmet store were more likely to buy a jar of jam when offered fewer flavors. To avoid "choice overload," group your options by shared characteristics. If you're thinking about changing jobs, categorize your prospects as "full-time" or "part-time." Once you've chosen, decide whether you want a desk job or something more active. Keep going until you have just a few options to choose from.

Do the Math
Are you torn between moving to a smaller apartment in a big city or keeping your larger place on the outskirts of town? Make a list of the pros and cons related to your decision, then assign each item a value based on its importance to you. Is rent your biggest concern? Square footage? What about the location or proximity to restaurants and shops? Add up the values on each side, then see which column has the largest sum.

Don't Look Back
After you've made your choice, move on. According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, if you have the option to change your mind, you will. Commit to making it work with the choice you've made, and don't waste time wondering how things might have been if you'd chosen differently. Decide to decide, and then decide to be happy.

4 Steps to Making Better Decisions


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