As a youth, you make a range of decisions every day. You regularly have to choose how you will behave and comport yourself around family and friends, how to meet up with societal and cultural expectations, how to respond when your values are challenged, the books you read, your career choice, the relationships you keep and so on.

The kinds of decisions you make can affect your mental health and wellbeing, your relationships and your success. Learning to make good decisions helps you become more independent and responsible. You realize you are solely responsible for your choices, and you have to accept the consequences of every word, thought and deed throughout your lifetime.

This process of making a choice you deem right among alternative choices is what is termed Decision-making. It is the act of arriving at a conclusion after much consideration has been given out about which action to take. The ability to make decisions is an important leadership skill that should be cultivated.

You learn good decision-making skills gradually and this is strongly influenced by your own values and the expectations of those around you. Once you know what your values are, it becomes easier to make decisions.

Here are a few ways you can develop good decision-making skills:

  1. Identify the decision to be made: The initial stage of a decision-making process is to identify the exact problem or decision to be made. It is believed that the identification of the problem is almost half part of the decision-making process.
  2. Think of the different options available in order: There’s a need to generate an array of possible options or solutions to the problem you have identified. As a decision maker, you should be able to develop possible alternatives leveraging on your knowledge, skills and experience, in order to arrive at the best decision.
  3. Consider your personal values and life goals: It is important to be true to yourself and what you value in life. When you factor into a decision the things that are important to you, the best option might become obvious. At any rate, you’re more likely to end up with an outcome you’re happy with. It is also important that the goals you set are achievable and motivating. In addition, the steps needed to reach goals need to be definite, clear and small enough to manage. It will help you understand the link between making decisions and taking action.
  4. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages: This will help you learn how to thoughtfully evaluate different options. When faced with a big decision, sometimes we lose sight of the big picture. Write a list of advantages and disadvantages for each course of action and then compare them. Sometimes the disadvantages aren’t nearly as bad as we imagine them to be, or the advantages might make your options more obvious. Learning to consider the situation carefully and weigh up the options before coming to a decision helps you make better decisions. It also helps you to understand and take into account others’ views when making decisions that affect them.
  5. Talk it out: It can be helpful to get another person’s perspective on your issue, particularly, if they’ve faced a similar decision in their own life. Seek out advice from a trusted friend, colleague or expert. Someone else may be able to offer suggestions that may be helpful in making a choice. Just be careful who you ask. You may also keep a diary to help you keep track of your feelings by writing them down
  6. Select the best alternative and take action: After analyzing your alternatives and weighing your options, select the best alternative while considering the short-term and long-term impact of your choice. Remember that today’s decision is tomorrow’s reality, and life today is a collection of the choices made yesterday. So choose wisely. And most importantly, make it work!
  7. Review your decision: Carefully review your action to make sure it was the best choice. Bear in mind also that the best choice is relative. Sometimes you will make the right decision, other times you have to make the decision right.
Today's decisions are tomorrow's realities. Life today is a collection of choices made yesterday.

Conclusively, remember that it is in the moments of decision that destiny is shaped. “Whenever you are making an important decision, first ask if it gets you closer to your goals or farther away. If the answer is closer, give it a shot. If it’s farther away, make a different choice. Conscious choice-making is a critical step in making your dreams a reality” – Jillian Michaels.