You are bombarded with choices. A survey of two thousand adults by Noom (a psychology-based weight loss app) found that you make 122 informed choices each day—and spend about three hours a day deciding what to eat, what time to go to bed, what to wear, and what to watch.
That many decisions feels overwhelming, so people combat decision fatigue by limiting the number of smaller choices. Mark Zuckerberg has a very basic wardrobe. I make a weekly menu each Sunday so I don’t have to decide each night. Some people just point to an item on a restaurant menu.
But what do you do when you’re faced with bigger choices, ones you probably shouldn’t make with a flip of a coin? These decisions leave you at a fork in the road—buying a house; deciding between the military, work force, or college; wondering if you should relocate; considering a retirement date; proposing marriage.
Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us to handle these decisions on our own. Thousands of years ago, he gave wisdom to King Solomon, who shared wise advice in a book called Proverbs. That wisdom guides us as we ask these five questions.*
- Do I have all the facts? It’s easy to find only facts that make us comfortable, so we make sure to hear both sides of a debate. Then we’ll have enough information to make a wise choice. Otherwise, if we “answer before listening—that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).
- Did I give the decision enough time? I’m the kind of decision-maker who loves to say yes immediately but sometimes later regrets it because I’ve overcommitted. So I take this caution to heart: “Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” (Proverbs 19:2). I’ve learned to say, “Let me think it over.” We can all use the time to take a deep breath and let emotions settle.
- What are my motives? If we’re honest, we can rationalize all the decisions we make. That’s why Solomon says, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord” (Proverbs 16:2). Are you listening to your ego, your pride, your bank account—or are you able to be objective?
- Have I received wise counsel? In the Bible’s Old Testament, Pharaoh didn’t listen to his advisors but instead refused to let the Israelites go worship God. Ultimately, he and his army drowned in the Red Sea, proving that “for lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers” (Proverbs 11:14). You might not be a king, but God has put people in your life—a teacher, grandparent, mature friend, mentor, parents—to help you consider these five questions.
- Have I considered my heuristics? I’m guessing we need to define heuristics first. These mental shortcuts allow you to make decisions efficiently. Whether you use your past experience, go with a rule of thumb, or make an educated guess, heuristics can be helpful. However, they don’t guarantee you will make the right decision. That’s why it’s good to take this caution from Proverbs 26:11 seriously, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Make sure you aren’t making efficient decisions that are just repeating bad choices.
*Full disclosure: My pastor shared these five questions in a sermon. He agreed to let me share them with you as long as I gave proper credit—not to him but to God and Solomon. So these questions come from God’s heart through Solomon’s pen to my pastor’s sermon.
Want to hear more about decision-making? Check out Pastor Mike’s message Trends vs. Truth: God Told Me.
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who never has to decide when to go to bed. Early is always the best choice.