By Preston Ingalls

I truly believe our lives are the result of our decision making. We are either recipients of good outcomes for proper decisions or victims of bad decisions. The product of our lives has less to do with luck, chance, serendipity, destiny, Acts of God and more to do with our choices. So, why are some folks not as good at decision-making than others? Let’s face it—some people are better at making decisions than others. But why? Here are nine suggestions to help you make better decisions.

1. Determine your best time of the day for being productive and analytical.

Avoid succumbing to pressures and pick the time where you can produce the best results in decision making. Are you rested enough to make a quality choice? Take time out to gather the information that leads to the right choices and not succumb to pressure or the attractiveness of quick gratification. The evidence will guide you, but you must be in the right framework to examine it. 

2. Elevate yourself to 20,000 feet and look down.

Before you make a short-term decision, step back and look at the larger picture. You may have to live with the decision you are getting ready to make for a long time, so take the time to make a quality choice by looking at it from various angles. Ask yourself, “What are the long-term implications of this? Can I mitigate or do something to minimalize it?” 

3. Gather as much information as you can.

What do the facts and data tell you? Avoid opinions and assumptions as much as possible. Research, research, research, but be aware of “analysis paralysis,” where we feel we are doing something constructive by forever studying it. Gather facts and data, but don’t become consumed by the activity.

4. Avoid paradigms or at least be aware that yours may influence the decision-making process.

Be open to different information and that it may not support what you have always believed in or hold dear. Paradigms create biases as to how we look at things and therefore can affect our decisions.

5. We are often heavily influenced by “advisors.

To make solid decisions, we need to become confident enough to challenge and question those so-called experts to ensure that the information is actually valid. Find your inner skeptic and never just assume that what you’re being told is always true. Remember, it is their opinion.

6. Avoid looking at too few or too many alternatives.

Too few limits the process and too many can be confusing and intimidating. 

7. Use your intuition.

Our intuition or “gut” is based on our experiences, so don’t neglect it. It is useful to balance empirical logic with a systematic examination. 

8. Examine your own history of decision making.

People often don’t learn from previous mistakes because it’s emotionally difficult to face up to them. But if you have areas in your life where you have produced an epidemic of mistakes, you may need to understand your approach and refurbish it. Why repeat the same errors? Practice heuristics; the experience from trial and error. 

9. Use solid decision-making tools like a decision matrix.

You can weigh some criteria more heavily to make it more balanced. Also, conduct a pro/con analysis of your short list. It seems like an obvious step, but it is not always used. Remember, you are trying to select the best alterative based on what produces the maximum gain with the least risks. 


Perhaps the most significant errors in decision making are lack of a logical or sequential method. A poor sequence to explore information and arrive at the best alternative(s) leads to poor choices. The inability or unwillingness to research the necessary information systematically will, no doubt, net poor results in arriving at the best choice. And, if you’re confronted with too many options and too many choices, you go into overload and you lose the ability to sift and analyze only the information that’s helpful. 

About the author:

Preston Ingalls is president and CEO of TBR Strategies, LLC, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based maintenance and reliability firm specializing in the construction and oil and gas industries. Preston can be reached at

Modern Contractor Solutions, January 2021
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