“The more you practice making small decisions, the better you’ll become and when it’s time to make the tough ones.”
You have a problem, but you’re indecisive. You can’t even buy a pair of jeans without agonizing—should you get the skinny, regular, or boot cut? Should you get faded or colored? Maybe you want the ones with the holes, or maybe not? Should you do low rider or high waist?
You’re driving yourself crazy, not to mention everyone else around you. Decision-making shouldn’t have to be that difficult, so if you’re ready to say goodbye to the “eenie, meenie, miney, moe” mentality you’ve allowed yourself to resort to, here are some concrete dos and don’ts you’ll want to pay attention to in order to make a solid decision.
Relax. If you’re stressed, you’re more likely to overlook something important. When you’re relaxed, you can think clearly, weigh your options and make a better choice. Make sure you’re on your “A” game when you make a call, and learn to relax by using deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques and exercise.
Be impulsive—making a quick decision is never the way to go. Weigh your options, and think things through, since impulsiveness leaves too much room for mistakes. If you have a general tendency toward being impulsive, take note of it and be intentional about slowing down and stilling your mind. Remember, you can’t change what you don’t notice.
Consider all the options. This is the old pros and cons approach: if you want to take the old-fashioned approach, get a pen and paper and list all the pros and cons, or, if you like a more high tech approach, get the Great Decisions app on iTunes for six bucks: it will help you analyze your options.
Make a decision under pressure. Pressures can come in subtle forms, so watch out for suggestions like this from well-meaning people:
- I need a decision by the end of the week
- Time’s running out
- If you don’t do this, someone else will
Seek wise counsel: this means consulting those whose opinions you value, or those who have faced similar circumstances. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, and be willing to listen.
Over-analyze. This is the part where you agonize needlessly over your decision. Once you make the call, have confidence in the fact that you did your research, thought things through and trusted your instincts. Then chill out.
Trust that even if you blow it, you’ll learn from your mistakes—growth happens when we’re challenged, not when we coast through life. Ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen if I make a wrong decision?”
Think you know it all, as that can lead to disaster. Adopt a humble attitude and a teachable spirit. Learning from others can provide you with valuable information to augment your decision making process.
Have an alternative plan. Remember that things don’t always go smoothly in life, and even our best attempts to make wise decisions can backfire through extenuating circumstances that are no fault of our own. Plan for obstacles, and learn to be flexible.
At the end of the day, there’s no guarantee that all your decisions will be home runs. However, if you’ve taken time and followed the steps outlined above, you can rest assured that you’ve done all you can to leave your “ennie, mennie, miney moe” strategy behind you.
The more you practice making small decisions, the better you’ll become when it’s time to make the tough ones. Personal growth and development will be a rewarding part of the process—now go get those jeans!
Back at You: What do you find is the most difficult thing about making a decision?
- Finding Nemo’s Productivity Secrets: Lifehacker Interviews Pixar’s Lee Unkrich (lifehacker.com.au)
- 3 Things to Keep in Mind When Making Decisions (lifehack.org)
- Words To Live By: Decisions and Decisiveness (onewebstrategy.wordpress.com)
- Decision Making (aumparasamgate.wordpress.com)