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QUESTIONNAIRE: HOW I MAKE DECISIONS

This questionnaire is designed to find out how you go about making important decisions in your life. Some of these decisions for example, might be: to go to college or not; to decide on a career; or to take job X vs. Y. We believe that regardless of what the decision is about, each person has his or her own unique way of going about making decisions. We also believe that there is no one best way for everybody, and that you have probably learned to rely on a way which works best for you, based on your past experiences. Before filling out this section, think about how you have made these important decisions in the past, or about how you are handling decisions with which you are currently confronted. Try to get a picture of how you typically or characteristically make decisions. Then go ahead and respond to the statements below in terms of how you feel. Remember, we don't think that there is a single best way for everybody, so there are no "right" or "wrong" answers. On the answer sheet, circle "A" if you Agree with the statement, or "D" if you disagree with it. For a statement to be true of you, it doesn't always have to be the case, but more often than not. 1. I am very systematic when I go about making an important decision. 2. I often make a decision which is right for me without knowing why I made the decision. 3. When I make a decision it is important to me what my friends think about it. 4. I rarely make an important decision without gathering all the information I can find. 5. Even with important decisions, I make up my mind quickly. 6. I like to have someone to steer me in the right direction when I am faced with an important decision. 7. When I make a decision I consider its consequences in relation to decisions I will have to make later on. 8. When I make a decision I just trust my inner feelings and reactions. 9. I really have a hard time making important decisions without help. 10. When I need to make a decision, I take my time and think it through carefully. 11. I often decide on something without checking it out and getting the facts. 12. I often make decisions based on what other people think, rather than on what I would really like to do. 13. When an important decision is coming up, I look far enough ahead so I'll have enough time to plan and think it through before I have to act. 14. I don't really think about the decision; it's in the back of my mind for a while, then suddenly it will hit me and I know what I will do. 15. I rarely make a decision without talking to a close friend first. 16. I double-check my information sources to be sure I have the right facts before deciding. 17. In coming to a decision about something, I usually use my imagination or fantasies to see how I would feel if I did it. 18. I put off making many decisions because thinking about them makes me uneasy. 19. Before I do anything important, I have a carefully worked out plan. 20. I don't have to have a rational reason for most decisions I make. 21. I seem to need a lot of encouragement and support from others when I make a decision. 22. I don't make decisions hastily because I want to be sure I make the right decisions. 23. I make decisions pretty creatively, following my own inner instincts. 24. There's not much sense in making a decision that is going to make me unpopular. 25. Often I see each of my decisions as stages in my progress toward a definite goal. 26. I usually make my decisions based on how things are for me right now rather than how they'll be in the future. 27. I don't have much confidence in my ability to make good decisions, so I usually rely on other's opinions. 28. I like to learn as much as I can about the possible consequences of a decision before I make it. 29. A decision is right for me if it is emotionally satisfying. 30. I usually don't have a lot of confidence in my decisions unless my friends give me support on them.

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ANSWER SHEET INSTRUCTIONS: Circle "A" for Agree and "D" for Disagree (A) (B) (C)

EFFECTIVE DECISION-MAKING
There are various ways to make decisions. You can, for example, do nothing. Then someone else will end up making a decision for you. You can wait until the perfect opportunity comes along. Of course, you could be waiting for a long time. You can decide to go after what looks best today, and worry about the consequences later. The problem with these styles of decision making is that they are based on a false assumption: They are based on the assumption that you don't have any control. If you make decisions in any of these ways, you're assuming that you can't think your way through a good choice. And that's wrong. It is possible to make reasonable decisions. You may not always make perfect decisions, but you can make decisions based on a clear understanding of what you need and what you can achieve. The purpose of this session is to show you some ways to make decisions. These decision-making methods can help you to weigh carefully the various career alternatives you're considering. According to Janis and Mann, you have a much better chance of making a good decision if you: 1. Look thoroughly for a wide range of choices. Don't limit yourself to just a few obvious choices. 2. Think carefully about what you want to achieve with your decision, and understand how your decision will affect your values. 3. Consider all the possible bad consequences of each choice, as well as its good consequences. 4. Search intensively for new information that will help you with your decision. 5. Pay attention to all new information even if it doesn't support the choice you want to make. 6. Re-examine the good and bad consequences of all the possible choices - even the one's you've already rejected - before you make a final decision. 7. Make careful plans for carrying out your decision and think through how you will cope when things go wrong.

Making Good Decisions


Everyone ends up regretting a few decisions. When you look back, you can probably see where you went wrong. These are some of the common traps that everyone falls into: You get so worn out worrying about things, that you make a decision just to get it over with. The "best" choice looks so good that you don't even bother considering some of its bad points. You start to fantasize about how good things will be once you've made choice A, and you get so caught up in this pleasant dream that you don't try to find out what choice B or C might bring. You go for the first choice you find that meets all your basic goals, without looking around to see if there's something better. You don't take into account the fact that any choice - even a good one is going to have some costs. And when the problems do appear, you're not prepared to handle them. Two psychologists, Irving Janis and Leon Mann, have studied how people make important life decisions. They have found that people who make effective decisions follow certain steps.

Plan Your WorkWork Your Plan


Based on their research, Janis and Mann developed a "balance sheet grid". The grid can help you to weigh all the consequencesboth good and badof each of the alternatives you are considering. On the balance sheet, Janis and Mann list four main types or consequences that you should look at whenever you make an important life decision: 1. Tangible gains and losses for the self (How will I benefit or lose by choosing this alternative?) 2. Tangible gains and losses for significant others (How will my family, friends, intimates benefit or lose if I choose this alternative?) 3. Self-approval or disapproval (How will other people react to my choice? Will I be respected or criticized?) 4. Social approval or disapproval (How will other people react to my choice? Will I be respected or criticized?)

DECSION-MAKING STRATEGIES
COMPLIANT This person prefers to let someone else decide for them. "Whatever you say, sir." DELAYING This person can't make up their mind to decide. "I'll do it later. What's the big rush? FATALISTIC This person thinks that what will be will be, so why decide. "It's all in the cards". IMPULSIVE The person decides and then thinks about the decision. AGONIZING This person searches for so much information that the decision gets so complex, he/she is "lost in the confusion." PLANNING This person is an organized decision maker who carefully weighs alternatives before deciding. He/she follows a definite strategy. INTUITIVE This person uses more feeling than thinking. "It feels right inside so I think I'll do it." This is a mystical choice. PARALYSIS This person knows he/she must decide but is so overwhelmed by the choices that he/she is unable to make any decision at all. Consider These Consequences When Making Important Life Decisions 1. How will I benefit or lose by choosing this alternative? 2. How will my family, friends, intimates benefit or lose if I choose this alternative? 3. How will I feel about myself if I choose this alternative? Does it fit with my values? 4. How will other people react to my choice? Will I be respected or criticized?

DECISION-MAKINGTHE CHOICE IS MINE!


When I Am Tuned Into My Chatterbox I try to control I don't notice my blessings I need I am sensitive I am in turmoil I am blocked I don't know how I repel I take I am bored I am empty I am filled with self-doubt I am dissatisfied I have tunnel vision I wait and wait I am helpless I never enjoy I am always disappointed I hold resentment I am tense I am a robot I am being passed by I am weak I am vulnerable I am off course I am poor I am lonely I am afraid When I Am Tuned Into My Higher Self I trust I appreciate I love I care I count I am at peace I am creative I count I attract I make a difference I give and receive I am involved I am filled up I am confident I am content I see big I live now I am helpful I am joyful I go with what is I forgive I am relaxed I am alive I am powerful I am protected I am on the path I let go I have so much