Want to make better decisions and overcome barriers to effective decision making? Here are eight powerful habits you can start implementing today!

Barriers to Effective Decision Making - 8 Powerful Habits To Help You Make Effective Decisions!

Aug 12, 2023

By Will Moore

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped” - Tony Robbins

It's no secret that making effective, productive decisions in work and life are critical to success. You have to make hundreds of decisions every day. From what you're going to wear in the morning to whether or not you should take that new job offer, your decisions can have a huge impact on your happiness and success in every area of life. 

So, what if you had simple but effective habits in place that enabled you to make better decisions? Would your life be different? Would you be happier? Would you have the desired momentum in life?

That's exactly what I wanted to talk about today: how to become an effective decision-maker so that you can live a happier, more fulfilled life. 

We'll start by looking at the 5 Cores that contribute to your overall happiness and why they're so important. 

Then we'll dive deep into 8 powerful habits that will help you become an effective decision-maker.

What Are The 5 Cores That Contribute To Happiness?

5 cores are essential to your overall happiness: Mindset, Career & Finance, Relationships, Physical Health and Emotional Health. We'll talk about how you can make effective decisions that will lead you to master, find balance, and continually grow in all five cores.

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But before we get into it, let's first address one thing: making the right decision is difficult. We all have our own biases that affect our decisions, whether we're aware of them or not.

We also tend to make decisions based on what feels good at the time rather than what is best for us in the long run. And the world around us (our friends, family, and society) exerts a lot of pressure on us to make certain choices, even though they may not be in our best interests.

So how do you overcome these obstacles? 

The answer lies in forming powerful habits that set you up for success. But first, let's take a look at why it's important to make good decisions in your 5 cores.

Why Is It Important To Make Good Decisions In Your 5 Cores?

The more good decisions you make, the better your life will be. But what are the consequences of not making good decisions?

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The answer is pretty simple: bad choices lead to bad results.

Let's look at each of the 5 cores and how to make decisions that set you up for success in each.


This is all about making choices that get your mind working for you instead of against you. Deciding to commit to feeding your mind by reading, meditating, or learning a new skill. 

It's also important to work on cultivating a growth owner mindset and gratitude mindset. You can decide to see failure differently. Move away from the idea that you're lacking in some way, and choose growth by recognizing that obstacles and setbacks are only temporary.

Career & Finance

The key to making good decisions around your career lies in self-knowledge. When you have a good understanding of who you are and what lights you up, you can make decisions that bring you more into alignment with that person. You'll stop making choices based only on money and seek real fulfillment.

Now, I'm not saying that money doesn't play a role in your overall happiness – because it most definitely does. How you decide to use your money will make the difference between you working for money and money working for you. Stop impulse buying before it is too late. Simple decisions like investing rather than splurging can shift your relationship with money and set you up for long-term financial success.


Believe it or not, how you show up in your relationships is also a choice. Meaningful relationships are a deeply rewarding experience, fulfilling your millennia-old mammalian need for belonging and companionship. 

But that level of connection comes with a price. There will be times when you need to make difficult decisions between prioritizing the relationship above your own needs and desires – and that's a double-edged sword.

Give too much, and you begin to harbor resentment; give too little, and the relationship begins to fade. The key to happiness in relationships is in making decisions that help to find a balance.

You can listen to the entire podcast episode on Personal Success

Physical Health

OK, this is probably the most obvious of the 5 cores when it comes to making good decisions: 

“Should I stay up and watch another episode of Stranger Things or get an extra hour of sleep?”

“Should I order the salad or the triple cheeseburger?”

“Should I stay home and watch TV or go out for a run in the woods?”

Your decisions about your physical health have a domino effect on all the cores. If you are eating too much junk food, then you should get back on track with diet to stay healthy. There's a strong connection between your mind and body, so your choices about physical activity, eating, and sleep habits will determine the amount of energy you have to achieve your goals in other areas of life too.

Emotional Health

This is possibly the most difficult of the 5 cores to focus on when it comes to making better decisions. Strong emotions can cloud your ability to think logically and make good decisions.

Slowing down, focusing on the moment, and living in gratitude can help you create a healthier relationship with your emotions. It will also help you to identify and do more of the things that light you up and make you… well, you!

So, it's not so much about making decisions FOR your emotional health – but taking care of your emotional wellbeing so that you CAN make healthy decisions based on what serves you best in work and life.

Making good decisions in each of the 5 cores will help you build a successful business or career, find true love and happiness in your relationships, keep yourself healthy and energized, and feel confident about who you are as a person. It will also help you in finding joy when life gets harder.

But how do we know if our choices are right or wrong? How do we make sure that we're making the best decision possible?

Well, there's no magic formula for success, but here are some habits that can help you make better choices in all areas of your life.

Read an Interesting Article on Multitasking Skills

8 Powerful Habits to Help You Become a More Effective Decision-Maker

1) The habit of keeping the bigger picture in mind

Get clear on where you want to go in life. Focus on where you want your life to look 1 year from now, 5 years from now, and even 10 years from now. What do you want out of your career? What do you want out of your relationships? What does success look like for you on a personal level?

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Once you have clarity on where you want your life to be going, it will help you to make decisions that are better aligned with your long and short-term goals, as well as give you a clear direction when faced with tough choices. Bring your big-picture vision into every decision. Making conscious choices rather than accepting the outcome of unconscious decisions

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and not letting fear stop you from making the choices that serve you best. Learn how to exit comfort zone to make tougher decision. Remember that there are no "right" or "perfect" choices in life, only choices that will take you closer to or further away from your goals.

2) The habit of being present in the moment and becoming mindful of your thoughts and emotions

One of the biggest threats to good decision-making is harmful emotions. You simply can't make good decisions when you're not in touch with what's happening around you. If you're worried about something, it's hard to think clearly. If you're upset about an argument you had with someone, it isn't easy to focus on anything else.

Being present in the moment helps prevent overthinking or worrying about future events so much that it hinders your ability to think clearly about what's happening right now. It also helps you avoid making impulsive decisions because it allows you to pause before acting to think things through instead of reacting immediately (especially if a lot is going on around you).

It's easy to get caught up in your thoughts or emotions, but try raising your awareness and letting your values guide you, not your emotions.

3) The habit of taking time to reflect on your past mistakes

Decision-making is a two-step process. The first step is learning, and the second step is deciding. It's easy to forget about your past mistakes, especially if they had no major consequences. But if you don't learn from your mistakes, you'll never be able to improve your decision-making skills.

Take time to reflect on your past mistakes. You can't learn from your mistakes if you don't think about them first. So make time every few weeks (or even months) to go back through your last few decisions and ask yourself if there was anything you could have done differently. You might be surprised by what you find!

It's important to do this from a place of empathy and curiosity. Don't berate yourself for doing things wrong but learn to forgive yourself and treat it like a lesson –  if you make a mistake, learn from it and then move on.

"You cannot learn anything from success; you only learn from failure." - Jim Dale (actor)

4) The habit of asking “why?” to identify the root cause of your problems

Identifying the root cause of problems helps you to understand why something happened so that you can prevent it from happening again (or, even better), fix it!

The 5 whys is a very simple but powerful problem-solving method that helps you dig deeper into why something happened or why you did something.

It's based on what we know about human psychology: it takes about five iterations for people to see patterns or connections in things they're presented with or asked about.

The idea behind this approach is that if you ask “why?” enough times, you'll eventually get to the root cause of whatever issue you're trying to solve.

It's based on what we know about human psychology: it takes about five iterations for people to see patterns or connections in things they're presented with or asked about.

The idea behind this approach is that if you ask “why?” enough times, you'll eventually get to the root cause of whatever issue you're trying to solve.

Now, although the Five Whys was originally developed by Toyota for business problems, it's applicable in both personal and professional settings. Of course, it can be more challenging to identify a root cause when emotions are involved. Your feelings don't often lead you to make logical decisions, but the 5 whys can help you single out the root of the matter in any situation – but it may take a little practice.

Here's an example. Let's say you want to start being better prepared for business meetings. You can start by asking: 

1 - “Why am I never prepared for meetings?”...

Because I always procrastinate and rush everything at the last minute.

2 - “Why do I always procrastinate and rush everything at the last minute?”... 

 Because I believe that I work better under pressure. 

3 - “Why do I feel more effective when I'm under pressure?”…

Because when I mess up, I can blame it on the lack of time. 

4 - “Why would I prepare an excuse for something going wrong before it's even happened?”…

Because it's a defense mechanism to manage my crippling fear of failure. 

5 - “Why am I afraid of failing?”… 

Because in the past, I connected my sense of self-worth to never fail. 

Now you know that to truly change this, you need to acknowledge that you're using procrastination as a defense mechanism – and reframe the belief that failing somehow reflects your worth. 

5) The habit of consulting people you trust

Ask for input from others before making any kind of decision. If possible, talk with people who have experience with what it is that you're trying to decide on — whether that be friends or family members or even professionals like doctors or lawyers (if they have relevant expertise). Ask them what they would do if they were in your shoes.

Another important thing to note is that it's also OK NOT to take someone's advice. In fact, one of the most important skills in life (and in business) is knowing when not to do something instead of doing it just because someone told you to do it.

Everyone has different values, beliefs, and priorities, so it's important not to get too hung up on what other people think about your decision but rather focus on what is best for you at this time in your life.

Choose your advisor carefully, and don't believe everything you hear.

6) The habit of trusting your instincts to make an intuitive decision

When making big decisions, whether it's about your career or your life in general, trust yourself first and foremost. I know this sounds like a cliche and something you've heard before, but it's true.

When you're confronted with a difficult decision, take some time to think about the pros and cons of each option so that you can be as informed as possible. Then, just go with your gut instinct. It may seem like an obvious solution, but sometimes it's easier said than done.

You can even ask yourself questions: When making big decisions, ask yourself questions like “Is this really what I want? Am I happy now? What would happen if I did nothing? How will I feel after? And when you get an answer that feels right, go after it wholeheartedly!

7) The habit of being aware of your biases

Your brain is wired with psychological biases that can make it difficult to make good decisions. For example, we tend to think that the future will be like the past — which leads us to believe that if something hasn't happened yet, it probably won't happen at all (even though this is usually untrue). 

We also tend to believe things are more likely than they actually are because they're easier to imagine or visualize (like winning the lottery). And we tend to make decisions based on how things appear rather than what they really are. 

These biases can affect every type of decision — from choosing a career path and buying a house to deciding whether or not someone is trustworthy and whether or not to get married.

8) The habit of weighing up the pros and cons

Imagine the best and worst-case scenarios. Before making a decision, imagine what it would be like if everything worked out perfectly and also if things went wrong. This helps you consider all possible outcomes of your decision before acting on it.

In the best-case scenario: You decide to start your own business. It's a little risky, but you've been thinking about it for months, and it seems like a great idea. You know that if you do it right, you'll succeed, and you'll be able to make all kinds of money. You think about how great it will be to get paid for doing something that makes you happy.

Now imagine the worst-case scenario: There's also a chance that things won't work out as planned — what if there are too many competitors? Or maybe they find someone better than you? What if no one wants what you're selling? What if everything goes wrong?

With this information, you can make a much more balanced decision.

5 Barriers to Effective Decision Making

Here are 5 barriers to effective decision making:

Barrier 1: Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is a significant barrier to effective decision-making. It involves favoring information confirming our beliefs while ignoring or downplaying contradictory data.

This bias can hinder a comprehensive assessment of all the possible alternatives and lead to decisions based on incomplete or skewed information.

Barrier 2: Process Conflict

Process conflict arises when there is disagreement among decision-makers about the best course of action or the decision-making process itself.

This conflict can lead to delays, inefficiencies, and a lack of consensus, making it challenging to reach a timely and effective decision.

Resolving process conflicts requires open communication and a willingness to collaborate to find common ground.

Barrier 3: Relationship Conflict

Relationship conflict points to interpersonal tensions among decision-makers.

When individuals involved in the decision-making process have unresolved personal conflicts or differing agendas, it can impede effective decision-making.

Relationship conflicts can result in substantial ongoing costs for an organization, as they hinder cooperation and hinder the ability to focus on the task at hand.

Barrier 4: Status Quo Bias

Status quo bias is the tendency to prefer the familiar and maintain the current situation, even when it may not be the best option.

This bias can lead to resistance to change and innovation, preventing decision-makers from exploring new possibilities.

Overcoming status quo bias requires a conscious effort to challenge existing norms and consider the potential benefits of embracing change.

Barrier 5: Negative Outcome Avoidance

Fear of negative outcomes can paralyze decision-makers and prevent them from taking necessary risks.

While it's natural to want to avoid failure, excessive aversion to negative outcomes can lead to missed opportunities and stagnation.

Decision-makers need to balance a careful assessment of potential risks with the willingness to take calculated chances that may lead to positive outcomes.

What are some psychological biases that act as barriers to effective decision-making?

Some common psychological biases that can act as barriers to effective decision-making include:

Anchoring Bias: The tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information received (the "anchor") when making decisions. This can lead to not fully adjusting for other important factors.

Availability Heuristic: Placing too much weight on readily available or memorable information rather than looking at all relevant data.

Framing Effect: How a choice is framed (as a gain or loss, for example) can significantly influence the decision, even if the objective outcome is the same.

Sunk Cost Fallacy: The tendency to justify further investment of money, time, or effort into something that has already cost a lot, even if it doesn't make objective sense going forward.

Overconfidence Bias: Overestimating the accuracy of one's beliefs, knowledge, or predictions, leading to faulty judgments.

Hindsight Bias: Having an inflated sense that one "knew it all along" after outcomes are known can distort evaluations of decision quality.

These cognitive biases underscore the importance of actively working to counteract their influence for more rational, impartial decision-making.


Hopefully, incorporating the above habits into your life will help you to overcome the barriers to effective decision making. They've definitely helped me in making better choices over the years, and I hope they will help you as well. To recap, here are the 8 habits again:

  1. The habit of keeping the bigger picture in mind

  2. The habit of being present in the moment and becoming mindful of your thoughts and emotions

  3. The habit of taking time to reflect on your past mistakes

  4. The habit of asking “why?” to identify the root cause of your problems

  5. The habit of consulting people you trust

  6. The habit of trusting your instincts to make an intuitive decision

  7. The habit of being aware of your biases

  8. The habit of weighing up the pros and cons

Want to know where you stand in the five values of life tied to happiness (Your 5 Cores)? Take this two-minute Core Values Quiz to get your core score in the five values of life.


Will Moore is a gamification, habits and happiness expert.

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