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Did you ever wish you didn't have to make decisions? Learning to make decisions and solve problems is an important part of our mortal existence. The way we use our God-given freedom to make decisions is of eternal significance.
Eight styles of decision making were identified by researcher Lillian R. Dinklage. As you read through these styles, try to identify your own decision-making strategy.
Generally the Planning type of decision making is the most effective, but some people are able to effectively rely on the Intuitive type.
Roadblocks to making satisfying decisions can originate either within ourselves or from outside ourselves.
*Note the difference between societal stereotyping and self-stereotyping. In one, others do it to you; and in the other, you do it to yourself.
In Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9, the Lord told Oliver Cowdery that he should:
Guidance from the Holy Ghost doesn't always come in the form of a burning in the bosom or a stupor of thought. The Lord can guide us in other ways.
Depending on whether you are a planning decider or an intuitive decider, different decision-making processes will work better for you.
Intuitive deciders often just need to ask a lot of questions in order to make decisions. The follow questions may be helpful in this process.
Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, with his "on the other hand" strategy, is an example of an intuitive decider.
You can apply this strategy in the follow way:
Set up two chairs facing each other. Sit in one chair and discuss all the reasons for deciding in one way. Then move to the other chair and talk about the reasons for making a difference choice. Move back and forth between the two chairs, each time telling the "you" in the other chair why the option represented by this chair is the right one. Eventually you will find that this discussion helps you to clarify the issue and come to a conclusion that "feels right."
Planning deciders work well with a step-by-step process, such as the following:
The following slideshow demonstrates a value-based decision-making matrix.
Sometimes as we study out a question and pray about it, answers come but we do not recognize them until later. Sometimes it seems that we are not getting answers to our prayers. President Boyd K. Packer stated:
Sometimes you may struggle with a problem and not get an answer. What could be wrong? It may be that you are not doing anything wrong. It may be that you have not done the right things long enough. Remember, you cannot force spiritual things. Sometimes we are confused simply because we won't take no for an answer. . . . Put difficult questions in the back of your minds and go about your lives. Ponder and pray quietly and persistently about them. The answer may not come as a lightning bolt. It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there, "line upon line, precept upon precept." Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. The promptings will be clear and unmistakable.
Sometimes the Lord asks us to proceed without a clear confirmation. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:
Even in decisions we think very important, we sometimes receive no answer to our prayers. This does not mean that our prayers have not been heard. It only means that we have prayed about a decision which, for one reason or another, we should make without guidance by revelation. If we do not receive guidance, we should act upon our own best judgment.
Elder John Groberg suggested that sometimes we will find the right path only by "eliminating the wrong decisions." He advised:
Because [the Lord] knows we need the growth, he generally does not point and say, "Open that door and go twelve yards in that direction; then turn right and go two miles. . . ." But if [a decision] is wrong, he will let us know -- we will feel it for sure. I am positive of that. So rather than saying, "I will not move until I have this burning in my heart," let us turn it around and say, "I will move unless I feel it is wrong; and if it is wrong, then I will not do it." By eliminating all of these wrong courses, very quickly you will find yourself going in the direction that you ought to be going.
It takes time and effort to develop righteous decision-making and problem-solving skills. We don't need to feel discouraged when things are not immediately clear to us. It's important to go forward in faith, praying and fasting for the influence of the Holy Ghost in our daily lives.
If we learn to "counsel with the Lord in all [our] doings," having faith that "he will direct [us] for good" (Alma 37:37), our spiritual discernment and wisdom will increase.