Decision Making 101: How to Make the Right Decision with Confidence
By Vicki Voisin, ACP
How do you make a decision? Are you impulsive? Do you agonize and wring your hands? Do you make every decision complicated? Are you afraid of making any decision at all?
Does making decisions stress you out? Do you procrastinate so you don’t have to make any decision at all?
Recognizing what drives your decision making process can help you make better decisions, as well as control irrationality and impulsiveness.
Here are some strategies that will help you make those better decisions:
1. Understand Your Emotions. The first step toward making better decisions is to understand how your feelings and attitudes motivate your behavior. Those feelings are usually deep-rooted in your childhood and revolve around how you were raised. They might include attitudes toward money or work or possessions.
Identify these attitudes and work at changing them. You do not want to be the person who buys things you have no use for, or who changes jobs on a whim or forms relationships for the wrong reasons.
2. Think first. If you are an impulsive decision maker, you probably get caught up in the frenzy and can’t stop yourself. Instead of participating in the frenzy, step back, take a deep breath, and spend a few minutes re-evaluating your choices. Even better, sleep on it and make your decision the next day when you’re thinking rationally.
3. Is the decision worth the worry? Be honest…is this a momentous decision, one that will change your life, or one that really won’t matter much in the end? Will it really matter if you choose the pink sweater or the blue one? Insignificant decisions are simply not worth stressing over. Just make your decision and move on.
4. Consider the consequences. Think your options through to the end and consider the consequences you may suffer if you take the path you’re considering. This will help you eliminate the choices that would have poor consequences and help you keep your choices in perspective.
5. Do What’s Right. Always choose to make a decision based on what is right and what corresponds with your personal values. Consider what you can and cannot live with. Never base your decision on what is easy. Doing what is right may be a bumpy path for a while but you will sleep better and be happier with yourself in the long run. Consider this quote:
My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because they are easy; you don’t make them because they are cheap; you don’t make them because they’re popular; you make them because they’re right. ~ Theodore Hesburgh
6. Listen to your Intuition and Follow Your Instincts. Decisions can’t always be based on statistics and analysis. There are times when your “gut feeling” provides the right choices. If your options have your stomach tied in knots, know that your intuition sending a strong message. As Oprah Winfrey says, “Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.”
7. Is there pressure? If you are being pressured to make a decision immediately, consider what is driving the pressure. Perhaps you’re dealing with a salesperson who needs to make quota or by someone driven by competition, greed or power. If the reason for the pressure does not make sense, step away from the pressure and give your decision more thought.
8. Decide not to decide. Not making a decision is a decision in itself…and often the right decision. If you are trying to make a choice between Option One and Option Two, the right decision may be Option Three: neither One nor Two.
9. Heads or Tails? When you are faced with options that are really not very different and either would be a good choice, you can always flip a coin. The point is not to agonize over a simple decision. This is a waste of time and keeps you from taking care of really important life decisions.
10. Don’t look back. Once you have made a decision, don’t look back and don’t worry about “what might have been”. Your goal should be to do your best to make the decision work so you get the results you want.
Your Challenge: Think about why you stress out when it comes to decision making. Work on your attitudes and emotions that play into your decision making process. Always listen to your instincts and, once a decision is made, march forward toward your goal.