“Life is C (Choice) between B (Birth) and D (Death).” Jean-Paul Sartre
If you look carefully at your present state, you’ll realize whoever and wherever you are today is a result of the innumerable choices you faced and the decisions you made on your way up here. Your decisions reflect your situation most of the time, if not always. However, surprisingly enough, no one in our life emphasized the importance of decision-making skills, let alone teach them.
What to have for breakfast? What to wear today? Which movies to pick up? All these questions you answer are decisions that won’t impact you, in the long run, and hence are made by us without conscious effort. But when it comes to choosing a career, switching your location, or quitting a job, the decisions we make can make or break us at least for a considerable period. That’s when we face difficulty making the decision.
Indecisiveness negatively impacts our day-to-day life and the way we feel about the activities we engage in. Thus, we need to work on our decision-making skills as the ability to make good decisions can save a lot of time and also ensure we get expected results and success. The ability to make good decisions is the most important skill for living a successful life. And, you’ll be glad to know that anyone can learn how to make better decisions.
So, let’s look at a few strategies you can implement to become a better decision-maker.
Weigh the pros and cons
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious and confused when confronted with a tough decision. One obvious and helpful way to making good decisions is weighing up the pros and cons. When you analyse both the positive and negative aspects before deciding on something important, you get an idea of how your decision unfolds. You can start by taking a paper, making a column of pros and cons and mentioning every point you can think of under each heading. If the number of benefits exceeds the number of negative outcomes, then it confirms your decision. If not, then you are smart enough to guess it may not be worthwhile to go in the direction you initially planned and work a little more before acting on it.
Look at the decision or the problem as a new opportunity. Don’t stress about getting the right solution immediately and forgive yourself for the past decisions you have made that didn’t turn out well. To identify new alternatives you need to make creative thinking work for you. Oftentimes, putting too much strain on our brain clouds our creative ability and retards the process of effective decision making. This happens as a result of focusing on the perfect answer, especially when the decision is important. Therefore, try and manage stress to allow your mind to come up with rational and innovative ideas. Looking for the ideal choice is neither possible nor practical. So, don’t try to find the perfect option. Instead, utilize your time and energy to figure out which decisions might work for you supporting your values at the same time. This provides you with clarity and helps you focus on what really matters.
Search for alternatives
The importance of eliminating bias while making a decision is usually overlooked by most people. Decision-making gets stressful because we don’t allow ourselves to see various options available. You rarely have just one option, though. However, people tend to take the easy way out and make a decision based on the limited information that’s available to them. That might be an easy process but the end results in the process may be difficult to accept and handle. Therefore, make sure you generate as many alternatives as possible, gather enough information and data about each choice as well as evaluate these alternatives. The more time you spend on research, the better choice you’ll opt for. So, make sure you are giving enough time to find and weigh all the options you have and only then decide which option is the best.
Some tools can help you with this, one of which is brainstorming. Brainstorming is a creativity tool that helps to get and to review ideas collectively in a group. Since this forbids judging of ideas, it allows the generation of multiple ideas for a particular problem among which the best ideas can be picked up at the end. Brainstorming is an excellent tool to identify new alternatives and arriving at the right conclusion as it involves the perspective of different people with different experiences and knowledge. This approach of solving a problem is far better than taking the viewpoint of just one person.
Consider Various Scenarios
Avoid going with the first reaction or solution that comes to your mind as it reduces the chances of going with the right decision. Give yourself some time to see if your initial reaction is worth being the final one. Every decision definitely has some consequences. That’s indeed the only reason we are worried about making a perfect choice- to avoid undesired consequences. So we must consider all the possibilities and take into account different perspectives to address and solve the problem instead of having a tunnel vision regarding the matter at hand.
Take your time instead of rushing. After all, a little more time spent evaluating alternatives is better than a lot of time spent regretting the decision you made.
The moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, you are constantly bombarded with different choices that you need to make. However, most decisions are made unconsciously without demanding much effort from our side while some decisions are life-changing and need time and evaluation before arriving at a conclusion.
Now that you have the strategies to be decisive, let me get this clear. No matter how carefully you make a decision, the outcome you get can never be guaranteed. Because many things are responsible for bringing about the outcome. You may be wondering, then what’s the point of giving so much thought into something we can’t even guarantee. Well, there’s a point, of course, and it’s doing what’s on our hands and increasing the probability of getting favourable and desired outcomes.
So, next time you face difficulty making a tough choice, don’t get stressed. Rather, look at the problem from all perspectives- consider all the benefits, visualise the best-case scenario, the worst-case scenario, and then arrive at the judgment. Most importantly, trust yourself with whatever decision you make once the decision has been taken.
Because as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Self-trust is the first secret of success”