Decision making can be a daunting process for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. Breaking down and simplifying decisions can make the choice more efficient, and relieve your mental bandwidth. I have previously discussed the four categories of a decision, and will now go over the anatomy of the decision itself.

Elements of a Decision

Every decision can be split into three elements: The decision prep, decision action and decision result. In other words, making the decision, performing the planed action and the outcome of that action. The best way to analyze how these elements will affect you is to weigh the impact of each one.

For example, planning and eating a lunch requires little prep, action and result, whereas marriage planning can be extensive and the result can drastically shift your life. Other choices, such as drunk driving, require little prep but can have devastating results.

The scale of a decision can also be split into three categories.

The most common decisions are daily decisions (what should I wear? What should I eat today? etc.).

Less common are opportunity decisions which have a larger impact on your life (Should I take this job? Should I date this person?)

The rarest are impact decisions, which help you determine who you are as a person and your effect on the world (What kind of parent do I want to be? How do I want others to feel about me?).

These decisions range from small to extremely significant, but everyone will have to make them at some point. So, how do we prepare?

Decision Prerequisites

There are many factors that can determine your decisions, but you should ultimately look at these three aspects of yourself:

Values: Easily the most important, break every decision to the fundamental elements of what you value. Often this is based on both preference and experience. People rarely make decisions against their personal values, so it’s a good source to make decisions from.

Critical Thinking: Value isn’t enough on its own, however. Decisions must also be looked at objectively, with an emotionless and dispassionate assessment. Critical thinking will remind you that every decision has a cost, and values can help you determine what you’re willing to give up for the decision.

Intuition: Our natural instincts that have been in our brain since humans have existed. Intuition and emotion are not ideal at making the best decision, but also should not be ignored completely. Your gut feeling should definitely be given some consideration in decision making.

Decision Vectors

Lastly, like vectors, every decision has direction and magnitude. The quantity of the magnitude is based on how closely that decision aligns with your values. If your actions and decisions don’t line up, then you don’t know what your values are.

If you’re in this situation, you should clarify to yourself on what’s important to you. Keep in mind, the freedom to make choices is not a luxury everyone has, and you can use your choices to help people that don’t have that freedom.

Note: This article was created from the conference Achiever II, and is rewritten from the speech given by Rory Miller. After a period of drinking and poor mental health, Miller joined the military, got married and turned his life around. He now gives speeches about improving decision making skills