In any business career there will be lots of decisions: good, bad and ugly. Kathy Caprino, writing for Forbes, asserts that good decisions have noticeable traits in common. And the reverse is also true.

“The decisions that fail us, that take us away from who we are and where we want to go, and cause unhappiness and regret, have the following five traits in common,” she says.

These decisions:

1)  Don’t support your intrinsic values
No decision can be a good one, if in making it, you’re going against what you value and respect.  When you make a decision that goes against your values, it almost never comes to a good end.

Lesson: Without exception, align your decisions with your values — honor what you hold dear, what you know to be true, and your highest standards of integrity.

2)  Are communicated poorly or without proper reflection
Even potentially good decisions can turn out badly if you fail to communicate them in a thoughtful, confident and clear way.

Lesson: A decision is only as good or positive as the way in which it’s shared and communicated.

3)  Come from a place of weakness and disempowerment
Decisions that emanate from weakness, fear, or running away from something, almost never move you forward.  You can’t get to the next level of success or fulfillment if you don’t do the inner and outer work of overcoming your fears and addressing what’s missing.

Lesson: If you run away from something (which is a decision, after all) or when you act from a sense of fear, powerlessness, or victimization, you’ll find that the decision you’ve made won’t resolve the problem — the same challenges will reappear in your next situation.

4)   Haven’t been properly vetted
One necessary ingredient to great decisions is that you’ve gathered all the necessary information from the most diverse and inclusive perspectives possible, and evaluated each alternative scenario before you choose one option.  Many terrible decisions come from an incomplete decision-making process.

Lesson: Develop sufficient boundaries so you’re not being overly reactive, emotional or analytical in your decision making.  Use an integrative style that incorporates as much feedback and data possible, and allows you to brainstorm all possible solutions, and vet them in an effective, integrative way.

5)      Are focused on the wrong problem
Numerous bad decisions people make in their professional lives emerge because they are looking at the “wrong” problem, writes Caprino.  Too often, people know they have to make a change, but instead of pinpointing exactly what isn’t working and taking a long, hard look at the root cause, they focus on an ancillary issue — one that isn’t as deeply challenging to explore and deal with.  Thus, the decisions made can’t possibly bring about the desired outcomes because they didn’t address the right problem.

Lesson: When you know you have to make a change, make sure you identify the deepest root of the problem, and address that. Don’t take the quick way out of the decision-making process by bypassing the most critical issues and problems you need to resolve.

Decision-making is a fundamental tool that helps you face life’s challenges, uncertainties and opportunities.   And the quality and efficacy of your decisions will determine how successful, fulfilled and productive you’ll be.  Take the time to explore and improve your decision-making process so you can make decisions that honor who you are and what you really want.