On any given day, whether you’re a CEO, manager or employee, you make hundreds of decisions. Some are inconsequential like choosing between a burger or salad for lunch. Others are life-changing like deciding whether to switch jobs, make a risky investment or pitch a challenging idea outside your comfort zone to your team. 

According to Drs. Jim Loehr and Sheila Ohlsson Walker, authors of Wise Decisions: A Science-Based Approach to Making Better Choices, most of us are oblivious to what truly goes into making the best decisions at work, home or play. Loehr, a world-renown performance psychologist and Walker, a behavioral geneticist, shine a light on how your mental, emotional and spiritual health impact every decision you make.

Get Your Y.O.D.A. On

In their new book, Loehr and Walker introduce the concept of Y.O.D.A. which stands for Your Own Decision Advisor—that inner voice that guides your decision-making. “When the stories crafted by your inner voice are faulty or ill-conceived, the advice or decisions that emanate from those faulty interpretations will likely be flawed as well,” say Loehr and Walker. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, hopelessness and fatigue are all capable of sabotaging your Y.O.D.A.” 

The good news is that you can build and strengthen your Y.O.D.A. skills, just like those of any other muscle. It’s possible to develop strategies to rise abovethe demands and stresses of the moment in order to make decisions that are grounded in transcendent values, core beliefs and high ethical standards. Success in life, career and relationships depends on knowing what derails your decision-making process and the steps you can take to consistently make the best choices with the information you have. With the guidance of  your wise Y.O.D.A., you can learn to fortify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual literacy muscles with every decision you make. 

Four Components For Wise Decision-Making

  1. The Key Characteristics of Good Decision-Making. “Our holistic health– mental, physical, emotional and spiritual—is the vital starting point for thoughtful and measured decision-making,” the authors explain. “We simply cannot take in, consider and thoughtfully process multiple streams of relevant information, both tangible and intangible, when we are anxious, depressed, sleep-deprived, sedentary, isolated and self-medicating with wine and M&M’s.” Thus, when facing a major decision—such as a potential new job—an effective Y.O.D.A. would advise, “No impulsive drive-through dinner for me tonight, I’ll go home and prepare a healthy dinner and get a good night’s sleep. I’ll ask for the time I need to think it through and get as much input as I can to clarify the risk-reward. I will make the decision when I am calm, rested and mentally prepared.” 
  2. Aligning Decision-Making with Values and Purpose.An effective Y.O.D.A. must be equipped with navigational coordinates—and those come from a person’s core purpose, values and beliefs. The authors explain how using such interrelated reference points as a personal credo and “tombstone legacy” should become second nature. They suggest people ask themselves such questions as: What are the indisputable facts surrounding this decision? What does my heart say is right? How does data from my emotions and feelings inform the choice I’m making? What does my gut say is the right thing to do? When I listen to my body, what is it telling me about the decision I’m trying to make?
  3. Helping Children and Teens Develop Their Own Y.O.D.A.s “One of the greatest gifts you can give to your children is a strong and wise inner voice, a measured and thoughtful decision advisor that will be their superpower throughout their lifetime,” according to Loehr and Walker. “By living one’s message and modeling good judgment, particularly in times laden with stress or conflict, adults can begin to embed a trusted and reliable inner coach in their children that will help them make good choices and also protect them from the downside of life-altering bad decisions.”
  4. Y.O.D.A. in the Broader Arena of Life.A person’s inner voice controls their energy investment, the authors point out, adding that energy can be positive (joyful, motivated or peaceful) or negative (fearful, angry or depressed). “A state of negative energy can seriously compromise your decision-making process, while wise, timeless decisions are best made in a state of positive energy,” they state. Get to the positive side of your energy valence before making important life decisions. Get the energy balance right before big choices are made.” 

Once you understand that your physical, mental and emotional health influence every decision you make, it’s possible to turn 2023 into your own year of wise decisions.


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to Forbes.com, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: https://bryanrobinsonphd.com.