5 Ways to Make Sure You Don’t Regret Your Next Decision

UPDATED: May 7, 2019
PUBLISHED: February 24, 2015

Is it hard for you to make decisions? Do you worry that your choices aren’t good ones—and later regret them? Or do you lack the confidence to make quick, or merely timely, verdicts? Well, a lot of people worry about their decision-making abilities, and I bet if I were to ask you your routine for doing it, you’d probably tell me you don’t have one.

But you’re wrong, because you do—everybody has decision-making habits. You just might not recognize them, or maybe you don’t like the way you go about the process. Everyone’s decisions are based on something, though, so if you just stop to think about it, you’ll discover what that something is and be able to fine-tune your routine for a more confident approach, with fewer regrets.

Related: John C. Maxwell: A Guide for Making Tough Decision

Want an expert’s advice? If you were to ask author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar how he made good decisions, he would tell you that he followed some basic rules.

So what would Zig do? He would…

1. Sleep on it.

If I’m really tired, I don’t make significant decisions (except in emergencies) until I’ve slept, for a fresh perspective.

2. Take time.

If someone is pressing me to decide something right now, unless an immediate decision is critical, I say, “If I have to choose now, the answer is no. After I’ve had a chance to catch my breath and review the facts, there’s the possibility it could be yes.” Then I put the ball back in their court and ask, “Do you want my decision now, or should we wait?”

3. Weigh the pros and cons.

I like to determine the maximum benefit of a decision, assuming that everything goes my way. Then I ask myself, Suppose nothing goes my way? Suppose this doesn’t develop and materialize as I expect it to? What is my maximum exposure? What would I lose?

4. Seek advice.

For significant business-related decisions, I run them past my advisors. These people are successful in their businesses and professions and have a considerable amount of knowledge, experience and wisdom, all of which are musts in the decision-making process. I get their advice and follow their recommendations, with good results in most cases. If the decision is too minor to involve my advisors but I still want input, I get my family together to look at the pros and cons.

5. Reflect.

I like to pray about my decisions. If I’m about to make an unwise decision, I simply don’t have peace about that decision and I consequently act on that feeling of unease. I ask, How will this decision affect all the areas of my life—personal, family, career, financial, physical, mental and spiritual? I think carefully as to whether what I give up is compensated for by what I gain.

Related: 5 Ways to Break Out of a Decision-Making Trap

Zig Ziglar taught timeless lessons of success before his passing in 2012. An author, salesperson and motivational speaker, his books include the classic See You at the Top, as well as Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World, Top Performance, Courtship After Marriage, Over the Top and Secrets of Closing the Sale.