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5 kinds of decisions (and how to skillfully navigate them!)

Phillip Moffitt
March 22, 2023
 min read

Did you know that naming the type of decision you’re trying to make will help bring clarity to the process? Our Lead Strategist, Phillip Moffitt, guides us through the five different kinds of decisions we’re faced with (often every day!), and how we can skillfully handle a decision whether it brings up joyful anticipation or uncertainty.

Five Kinds of Decisions

1. Benevolent 

All of your options are good, for instance choosing between two good job offers or between spending time with your family vs. taking a personal retreat. 

What seems like a benevolent decision can sometimes indicate a deeper, hidden conflict you’re avoiding acknowledging because it’s too unpleasant. Ask yourself, “Am I creating options for myself in order to escape facing a deeper issue?”

2. Neutral

You don’t have a preference for any of your choices, yet you can’t make the decision. This paralysis is usually a sign of a hidden conflict that’s trying to express itself through the decision. Sometimes the conflict is with another person. 

The skillful way to handle a neutral decision is to be compassionate with yourself and be mindful of how the decision feels in your body right now. Oftentimes, the answer will reveal itself.

3. Mixed


There are gains and losses inherent in all of your options, and it’s not clear which is the wisest course, such as the choice between committing to a relationship vs. keeping your independence; whichever choice you make, you have to give up something you desire. 

Beware of trying to have your cake and eat it too. Likewise be careful of fantasy decision-making, such as telling yourself that although the person you’re dating isn’t really right for you, making a commitment will change him into a new person.

4. Undesirable

All of your options have unpleasant consequences, for example deciding whether to keep silent or speak out about a lie one of your co-workers has told, which will affect workplace morale. There’s not a good outcome no matter what you decide, so it’s a really hard choice to make. 

In this circumstance, listen to your heart: Which choice will be the easiest for you to live with, despite what’s likely to be unpleasant external conditions?

5. Unknowable

The consequences of the decision are unclear, such as whether to have a risky operation or an experimental medical procedure. It’s a tough decision to make because you really don’t know how it’s going to play out. 

It’s best not to make such a decision until you absolutely have to, and then clearly state to yourself the full consequences of making the choice vs. staying with your current situation. People often underestimate the risks and downside of the unknown and exaggerate the negative aspects of the status quo.

Need more guidance?

Learn how to make skillful decisions