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  • Only 36 percent of us can accurately identify our emotions when they happen.
  • Learning how to make decisions for yourself at home and work, instead of for others, is an important first step.
  • Your effectiveness in improving your decision-making process is predicated upon you being honest and authentic with yourself.
We’re off on yet another tumultuous year and encumbered by making crucial life decisions about our personal relationships, mental health, physical health, employment (e.g., hybrid vs remote), moving to locales that offer better opportunities, maintaining safety for families and those with young children in school, managing our level of social interaction—and that’s just a handful of important decisions people make. In fact, it’s estimated that the average adult makes more than 35,000 decisions per day.

Researchers at Cornell University estimate we make 226.7 decisions each day on food alone. TalentSmart assessed more than a million people and found that only 36 percent of us can accurately identify our emotions as they happen, which reinforces the fact that 64 percent of people aren’t good at managing or even recognizing their emotions. This is problematic because our emotions can trigger countless decisions, important and small.

Decision-making is one of my core techniques, and more than 80 percent of my clients struggle with deciding about the way they live, at home and at work, and whether their decisions are right or wrong. To help my clients navigate through the minefield of making authentic decisions, I developed a list of empowering tips and exercises that can make decision-making at home and work easier and more gratifying.

Decision-Making at Home

The first step is doing an exercise to help evaluate and determine the authenticity of how you make decisions at home. You’ll need a couple of pieces of notebook paper to do it. There are five questions. Each question requires you to define how you see things now and your idea for a more optimum situation. Imagine your dream scenario and that you must piece together a puzzle to realize it. Maintain open and transparent conversations about why certain changes must occur. Keep in mind your decisions will impact other family members, and it may take multiple discussions to reach an acceptable compromise.

  1. How can I balance my career and family obligations so I don’t feel ineffective at both? Be honest with yourself about areas you’re falling short. Conducting transparent conversations with family members and work advisors can help you improve.
  2. How can I make life choices that allow me to maintain more focus on my self-care rather than prioritizing what other family members want? Decide on a self-care method you can activate in your daily schedule. Adjust as necessary.
  3. How can I improve the way I prioritize and complete my tasks at home so I don’t feel overwhelmed and always behind? Be adept at saying “no.” Learn to be honest about your limitations and ask for help if you’re feeling under. Trying to comply with everyone’s requests will inevitably let yourself and others down.
  4. How can I maintain a healthy balance between my friend and family obligations without feeling like I’m paralyzed? Focus on developing a comfortable cadence that meets your needs and not the expectations of others.
  5. How can I separate and focus on what’s important to me from what others expect from me—and keep my mindset and decision-making distinct? Create mental space to reduce the outside noise. Stop listening to people who may be “telling” you what to do and how to be. Protecting your space will help you develop a more authentic understanding of what’s most important to you.

Once you have completed the exercise, review it in a week and assess whether your decision-making process has improved. Adjust wherever applicable to accomplish your desired goals.

Decision-Making at Work

Use the same guidelines to complete this at-work exercise.

  1. If your job is unfulfilling, ask yourself, should I stay because I have job security and pressing financial obligations? Or should I look for something else? Avoid being impulsive or emotional and make sure you have a strategy in place for either option. Knowing how long to stay or whether to leave a job is always a tough decision to make.
  2. If you’re conflicted about your commitment to your area of specialization, consider making a change. Carefully research all your short-term and long-term options before deciding whether it’s an opportune time to pivot to another field.
  3. If you’re bored and feel unchallenged by your daily work regimen, consider seeking self-fulfillment outside your employment. Explore volunteer opportunities to support a project or cause that you’re inspired by and enthusiastic about. It could help stimulate you and potentially improve your imposter syndrome.
  4. If you’re in college and COVID-19 complications have adversely affected and delayed your graduation strategy, carefully review your options. Determine whether you should take a gap year, go straight into the workforce, or finish college and go to graduate school. There is no right or wrong decision; make the decision you feel is best for you.

Daily journaling and crafting pros and cons lists will also help immensely. Keep a notebook audio option close by to capture sudden epiphanies. You know yourself better than anyone. So, make sure your decision-making process and options are authentic and in your best interest. And remember to weigh each option without noise from the outside world.


Zak, H. (January 21, 2020). “Adults Make More Than 35,000 Decisions A day. Here Are 4 Ways to Prevent Mental Burnout,”


“How Many Decisions Do We Make,” (February 17, 2018). UNC TV/Science.