Practical Tips: How to be a Wise Decision Maker

Practical Tips: How to be a Wise Decision Maker

Lighthearted comedian Gabriel Iglesias has several stand-up comedy specials. The latest one (2016) is called “I’m Sorry for What I Said When I was Hungry.” The title stood out to me, for some reason, and I started thinking about the truth of it. How often do we lose our temper with loved ones because we’re tired?  What about taking out a bad day on the cashier at the grocery store?  I’m guilty of both, and more.

We cannot make good decisions when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. That’s something I’ve heard AA attendants talk about: H.A.L.T.  The lesson here is to stop and take stock of your emotional and mental state before you do or something that you’ll regret.  Abraham Maslow developed the Hierarchy of Human Needs (first published in 1954 in Motivation and Personality). The premise is that human beings’ basic physiological needs (breathing, food, water, and sleep) have to be met before a human being can feel secure, feel loved, feel esteemed, and finally, reach self-actualization.  At the highest level, humans can think creatively and reason logically.

We simply cannot make good decisions when we’re running on four hours of sleep, have low blood sugar, or are dehydrated. I know there are stages of life where sleep is limited, but this cannot be sustained for long periods of time without cost to your health and well-being. I believe that God wants us to take care of our bodies and minds so we can be at our best to serve Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Here’s a few things you can do to help in decision making:

Don’t try to make decisions in crisis mode.

Proverbs 19:2
“Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who makes haste with his feet errs.”

Proverbs 21:5
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.”

We experience crisis’s at different times and for different reasons: a car accident, hearing a bad health report, discovering that our home was broken into. At those times, we’re in a heightened emotional state; fight or flight mode is kicking in. We are very reactive.  Acknowledge that, and give yourself time to calm down.

Take a look at the bigger picture.

Proverbs 14:1
“The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”

Proverbs 14:15
“The naïve believes everything, but the prudent man considers his steps.”

Being hungry, angry, lonely, or tired can cause a narrowed view / perception of our reality.  As best as you can, take a step back and look at the whole situation. Give yourself and others the gift of grace. We must look beyond our immediate circumstances and know that the Lord has a a much larger view point. We must keep in mind the long term picture. We must always look towards our future as well. Decisions for today do not always work out tomorrow.

Get feedback from trusted people who demonstrate wisdom and care about your well-being.

Proverbs 11:14
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Proverbs 18:1
“He who separates himself seeks his own desire. He quarrels against all sound wisdom.”

Proverbs 18:2
“A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.”

Turning your personal life into water cooler gossip is a terrible idea. Instead, talk with selected trusted friends, mentors, or accountability partners.  Get their advice and take it into consideration. You are ultimately responsible for your own choices, but hearing others’ perspective can help you see another angle.

Wait for the Lord.

Proverbs 2:6
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5-6
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

The Lord can speak to us when our hearts our open and our minds are still. Pray for guidance and wisdom, and listen. God will make His answer clear.  He loves us and He wants the best for us.
Give yourself the gift of time and space when you have an important decision to make. Take stock of your personal mental and emotional state.  

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