We make a lot of decisions every day. They have a huge impact on our happiness and success. Yet most of us never question whether our decision-making process is flawed. It stands to reason that the only way to avoid the land mines is to know where they’re located. Here are 28 mistakes to avoid:

  1. Shoot from the hip. Failing to consider relevant information.
  2. Yesterday’s news. Basing decisions on outdated information.
  3. Define the problem. Losing sight of the key objectives.
  4. Learn your lesson. Failing to apply lessons learned from previous experiences.
  5. To-do versus must-do. Addressing low-priority activities just to check off items.
  6. Emotions get the better of you. Making important decisions in a poor frame of mind.
  7. False assumptions. Failing to consider personal bias or inexperience.
  8. Frame of reference. Making decisions in a vacuum.
  9. Analysis paralysis. Expecting everypiece of information before making a decision.
  10. Garbage in. Relying on sources with poor credibility.
  11. Fear the worst. Avoiding a decision out of fear of making a mistake.
  12. Band-aid solutions. Making a quick fix rather than addressing the root cause.
  13. Ego. Failing to request or consider input from people in the know.
  14. Take the good with the bad. Failing to view the downside as well as the upside.
  15. Jump the gun. Selecting the first option rather than exploring alternatives.
  16. Plunging in. Rushing to judgment without understanding the ramifications.
  17. Piecemeal. Optimizing a single component at the expense of the whole.
  18. Fixed focus. Failing to account for a changing landscape.
  19. It’s all in the details. Giving inadequate thought to implementation.
  20. Silver bullet. Doing what’s easy rather than what’s best.
  21. Overly complex. Making implementation overly complicated.
  22. Out of sight. Failing to consider opportunity costs.
  23. Deer in headlights. Postponing decisionsuntil tomorrow.
  24. Cover your behind. Making decisions merely to justify previous actions.
  25. Neglecting your values. Selling your soul rather than doing what’s right.
  26. Bury your head in the sand. Avoiding reality.
  27. Forest and trees. Getting caught up in the details while missing the big picture.
  28. Looking over your shoulder. Spending more time second-guessing decisions than moving forward.

This is adapted from BOOKSMART: Hundreds of real-world lessons for success and happinessby Frank Sonnenberg


Frank SonnenbergFrank Sonnenberg is an award-winning author. He has written seven books and over 300 articles. Frank was recently named one of “America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders” and one of “America’s Most Influential Small Business Experts.” Frank has served on several boards and has consulted to some of the largest and most respected companies in the world.

Additionally, FrankSonnenbergOnlinewas named among the “Best 21st Century Leadership Blogs”; among the “Top 100 Socially-Shared Leadership Blogs”; and one of the “Best Inspirational Blogs On the Planet.” Frank’s newest book, Soul Food: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, was released November 2018 (© 2018 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.)

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Common decision-making mistakes to avoid