Success is not for the timid. It is for those who seek guidance, make decisions, and take decisive action.
It’s Time to Make a Decision
Decision-making is a cognitive process that helps you map out the consequences of your actions. It allows you to reach the best course of action that will help you achieve your goals and objectives — ultimately shaping your destiny. In other words, it’s in the moments of decision that you decide your fate.
So whether those decisions are big or small, significant or seemingly insignificant, does not make a difference. Every decision you make throughout the day shapes your life in innumerable and somewhat unpredictable ways. In fact, your life is how it is today because of all the decisions you’ve made in the past. And if any of those decisions were a little different, then you might be in a very different place at this very moment. Therefore, every decision you make is important, and every decision you make significantly influences the direction of your life.
Decisions can either be made intuitively or rationally. When you’re making decisions intuitively you are doing so from an internal sense of knowing. Externally you might not have all the facts and/or information required to make a rational decision, and you, therefore, turn inwards for your answers. However, intuition can certainly lead you astray because it’s built upon an internal psychological framework that might not be in-tune with the goals and objectives you would like to achieve.
For more information about the process of intuition, please have a read of How to Make Intuitive Decisions.
The Four Types of Decisions
The other typical way we make decisions is through a rational process that involves a great deal of thought and attention. This rational decision-making process rests on four types of decisions:
- Decisions only you can make.
- Decisions others can make for you.
- Decisions you cannot afford to make.
- Decisions you cannot afford not to make.
On the surface, these four decisions might not have much significance, however, if you put these decisions into the context of your life, you will find that they become of extreme importance. Let’s take a look at this in a little detail.
There are certain decisions that you must make by yourself throughout the day. Things like brushing your teeth, choosing what clothes to wear, taking a bathroom break, eating lunch, etc. These are decisions that you probably make alone without the need for consent. Then there are decisions that other people can make for you. These decisions will of course vary depending on your age, life, and circumstances. However, what’s significant here is that you are putting some decisions in the hands of other people, for better or worse. These other people are making these decisions for you, and they are therefore controlling the direction of your life.
Consider for a moment:
What decisions am I allowing other people to make for me?
What is the significance of these decisions?
How are these decisions affecting my life and circumstances?
Could I make these decisions myself?
Should I be making these decisions myself?
Would it be advantageous to make these decisions myself?
It’s perfectly okay for others to make decisions for you as long as it’s your choice and you’re happy with the direction your life is heading. However, it’s certainly not okay if your life is being controlled by other people — unless of course, it’s for your greater good. Either way, you must come to recognize areas of your life where you are not in control of the decision-making process and decide whether or not this is in your best interests or in the best interests of others.
The third type of decision you will typically make are the decisions that you cannot afford to make. These are decisions that take you off-track and might actually pull you away from the goals and objectives you are wanting to achieve. Ask yourself:
What typical decisions pull me away from my desired outcomes?
How do these decisions impact my life in a negative way?
Unfortunately, we all tend to make these types of decisions for one reason or another. At times you might over-commit to something or you might fall into instant gratification traps. These are all decisions that you cannot afford to make because they pull you away from the areas that you should be focusing on. However, we all do this. We all fall into the trap of making decisions that we simply cannot afford to make, and as a result, we become overwhelmed, miserable or unhappy in the long-run because we are not living in accordance with our highest priorities and values.
Then on the flip-side, there are the decisions that we cannot afford not to make. For instance, helping out a loved-one in need falls into this category of decision-making. It doesn’t really matter what other priorities we have at the time because helping out a loved-one is aligned with some of our highest values and it, therefore, becomes a major priority.
Reaching a Balance
These four types of decisions significantly influence your life each and every day, for better or worse. And it’s really all about reaching a balance between these four decision types. You must, for instance, understand what decisions only you must make; what decisions you will allow others to make for you; what decisions you cannot afford to make; and what decisions you cannot afford not to make.
If you fully understand the importance of each of these decisions and the impact they have on your life, you will then have the right balance necessary to move your life forward in an optimal direction. However, if the balance is not there and these decision types are completely removed from your core values, needs, and highest priorities, then your life will be erratic and probably full of stress, worry, anxiety, anger, frustration, and struggle. You will be miserable and your goals will always be out of reach. It’s all about balance, and it’s up to you to find that balance.
Reaching a state-of-balance will of course not happen overnight. However, by working through your core values, by clarifying your needs, wants, desires, priorities, goals, personal standards and expectations, you will have the necessary foundations in place to help improve your decision-making process. This, therefore, suggests that the journey toward improving your ability to make effective decisions begins internally. It begins with an understanding of the priority level of exactly what it is you want and then build your life around those things.
Factors that Shape Your Decisions
You might think that you often make decisions independently in the spur of the moment with a clear mind and intent. However, this is rarely, if ever the case.
The decisions you make throughout the day are highly dependent on your core values, beliefs, meta-programs, and psychological rules. What’s more, your decisions are influenced by the questions you habitually ask yourself, by your past memories, prior decisions, and experiences of pain and pleasure. Moreover, the decisions you make on a daily basis are heavily influenced by your desire to satisfy your six human needs, and by the current emotional state, you are experiencing. And then there are your peers; there’s the media, books, magazines, newspapers, the Internet, and society in general. All these people and sources of information influence you on an unconscious level of awareness and therefore have a significant impact on your decision-making process.
So as you can see, your decisions aren’t as straight-forward as they might seem. They are influenced by many different factors that come from a variety of sources. And all this is very significant because making changes to any of these “factors” can significantly influence the choices and decisions you make throughout the day.
For instance, let’s say that over the course of a month you started hanging out with a new group of friends with different interests, beliefs, and opinions. Over this period you also started on a new career path working in a different industry. You also began reading books about topics you’ve never read before and watching television programs that hadn’t previously sparked your curiosity.
Taking all the above into consideration, do you not think that over the course of a month your decision-making process would radically change? Of course, it would. It might of course not change drastically in all areas of your life, but starting in small ways, and then expanding onto others things, it might certainly become significant over time as you develop new beliefs, habits and restructure your core values and priorities. And as such, your life will change, and your destiny will now be different.
Given all this, it’s important to understand that everything is influencing your life and your psyche in immeasurable ways. Therefore, if you would like to alter your decisions, then you will need to begin by making the necessary adjustments to help encourage a new perspective of reality. However, taking the necessary steps to change your life requires an effective decision right now.
Making Effective Decisions
An effective decision is a decision that is flexible, that provides you with options, and that leads to new experiences that help you learn more about yourself and your current circumstances. It is a decision that encourages you to take massive action towards the attainment of your desired objectives. And over time, as you continue to make effective decisions, you begin to develop habits-of-mind that will increase the value of each action and therefore help you become even more aware of your surroundings. And as your awareness grows, you naturally become better at spotting potential opportunities that allow you to make even more effective decisions in the future.
In order to make an effective decision, you must, however, follow a four-step formula:
Step 1: Get Clear About What You Want
Your first step is to clearly understand your desired outcome and the things required to achieve this outcome. Ask yourself:
What would I like to do?
What is my desired outcome?
What specifically would I like to achieve?
What might be required to achieve this outcome?
How must I prioritize my efforts?
Knowing your outcome is important because it helps direct all your efforts towards one objective. And when all your efforts are aligned, you will naturally make more effective decisions throughout the day.
Step 2: Take Massive Action Toward Your Desired Outcome
Now comes time to take massive action moving towards your desired outcome.
When you don’t quite understand how to get to your desired destination, it’s easy to become a little indecisive. However, what’s important here is that you take the first step. In fact, take any step that will move you just a little closer to your destination. What you will find is that after taking that first step you will have greater clarity-of-mind about the next step after that, and then the step after that, etc. This clarity comes your way because as you “do” you “experience” and “learn”, and with experience and knowledge comes wisdom to know what to do next.
Step 3: Measure Your Results
As you take action towards your desired outcome, be sure to measure your results.
You must always be vigilant of what’s working and of what’s not working. There’s just no point doing something the wrong way for too long. You waste precious time and you might even have to go back and redo things all over again. However, in order to measure your progress, you must first clarify what exactly you will be measuring. Ask yourself:
How will I know if I am making progress towards my goal?
How will I specifically measure this progress?
How will I know when I have achieved my goal?
The more clarity you have about how you will measure things, the better decisions you will make along your journey towards your desired outcome.
Step 4: Stay Flexible in Decision and Action
As you work towards your goal, things will not always pan out as expected. You must, therefore, be flexible with your decisions and actions at all times. However, you must always keep the long-term results you would like to achieve in mind. Ask yourself:
What results am I trying to achieve?
What am I currently doing?
Is what I’m currently doing getting me closer to these results?
Is this the most resourceful and optimal way to do this?
What could I do instead to get the results I want faster?
Along this journey, your path may change and you might need to temporarily alter your course. However, your goal will probably always be the same. And it’s this goal that will keep you on track no matter how much you may drift off course. Furthermore, you must always be thinking and making small adjustments. Don’t rest on your laurels. Keep thinking about ways you can improve things and make more optimal decisions that will help you get your results in quicker succession.
Barriers to Effective Decision Making
Before exploring the decision-making process in detail, it’s important to keep in mind that making effective decisions isn’t always easy. There are so many traps that one could fall into, which can immediately undermine all your efforts and quickly lead you astray. For instance:
- Poor and/or miscalculated timing.
- Listening to one source for all your information.
- Over emotionalizing your experience.
- Overthinking the situation.
- Overlooking alternatives or opportunities.
- A lack of knowledge and clarity.
- Showing no commitment to follow-through.
- Overestimating the time it takes to get something done.
- Overestimating your experience, resources, knowledge or ability.
- Fear of making a wrong decision.
All of these things are barriers that can negatively impact the decisions you make throughout the day. However, they aren’t unavoidable. In fact, every barrier on this list can be successfully overcome.
Poor and/or Miscalculated Timing
Do your research to determine what is the best time to make a decision, or simply ask other people who already made this decision before you. Maybe they timed things correctly or maybe they didn’t. Either way, you will have the answers you need. Ask the other person:
When did you know was the right time to make this decision?
Was your timing off? Why? What did you learn from this?
What advice could you give me about what is the optimal time to make this decision?
Keep in mind that at times you won’t know when the timing is right. Sometimes you will simply need to just make a decision, and often making a decision today is better than putting things off until tomorrow. Action is better than no action because when you’re doing something you gain deeper insights into the situation, which can help you make even better decisions moving forward.
Listening to One Source for All Your Information
Listening to one source or one person’s opinion about what you should do, can most certainly lead you astray. This one source only provides you with one perspective, and that one perspective might not provide you with the necessary perspective you need to make an effective decision. And when you don’t have the necessary perspective, you might make poor decisions or mistakes that could cost you long-term.
You should always consider acquiring at least two or three sources of information. This will help you gain a deeper understanding about things, and will likewise help minimize any possible mistakes you might make. As such, talk to many different people and/or read more books or information about the topic. The more sources you have the more you will know about the best course of action moving forward.
Over Emotionalizing Your Experience
Don’t make any major life decisions when you are experiencing a strong emotion. This applies to positive as well as to negative emotions. For instance feeling over excited and enthusiastic about something can lead you astray just as much as feeling overly anxious or angry about something. Both decisions might guide you down a less than optimal path because when you’re emotional you are not very rational. And when you’re not rational, you fail to take all the consequences of your decision into consideration.
When you’re for instance experiencing a negative emotion, you will see your circumstances in a very gloomy way. And as a result, you will put more emphasis on the negatives of the situation, and fail to consider the positives. On the other hand, when you’re experiencing a positive emotion, you will overemphasize all the positives of the situation, and unfortunately, fail to take into consideration the negative consequences of your decision. And as such, you could be led astray in both cases.
Taking your emotions out of the decision-making process isn’t always easy. It’s particularly not easy if you’re in the spur of the moment involved in the situation. In such instances, separate yourself from the situation to clear your head; or better yet, if you have the time, choose to sleep on your decision. Only when your emotions have calmed down and settled to a comfortable baseline state, will you begin thinking rationally about the decision you are about to make.
Over Thinking the Situation
Giving a lot of thought and attention to major life decisions is worthwhile and highly recommended. However, over-thinking can often lead to procrastination and perfectionism. It can also create unnecessary confusion and doubt in your mind.
To overcome this decision-making barrier, set a reasonable time-limit for the amount of time you will spend thinking about the decision. Then when the time is up, make your decision without hesitation. However, this doesn’t mean that you should rush into making major life decisions. Sometimes, you just need to stop thinking about things for a while and go on with the rest of your life. Let things be, then come back to the decision at a later time when you’re in a different state-of-mind. That is the best way to assure you make the right decision moving forward.
Overlooking Alternatives or Opportunities
When you don’t spend enough time taking certain factors into consideration, that is when you will often overlook opportunities and alternate courses of action.
In such instances, take time to think and reflect on your circumstances and consider all the possibilities that lay before you. This essentially comes down to asking an effective set of questions that will help you better understand the circumstances under consideration. In fact, it’s critical that you adopt a curious approach to your situation by questioning the possibilities that might exist. Ask yourself:
What am I not seeing here?
What am I possibly overlooking?
What could be possible if…?
What if I do…?
What if this happens…?
Alternatively, it can also be helpful to gain other people’s perspective. Other people might not have all the answers you are after, however, they might have some of the answers that you need to help lead you down new paths and directions.
A Lack of Knowledge and Clarity
A lack of knowledge or clarity comes down to the fact that you simply don’t have enough information to make an effective decision. In such cases spend some time doing your research, speaking with people, and gaining the necessary knowledge and clarity you need to make an optimal decision. However, for this to work you must understand the outcome you are after. Ask yourself:
What exactly do I want?
What outcomes would I like to realize?
What am I uncertain about?
What do I need more information about?
What is required to bring this outcome into reality?
The more you know, the more you will realize that you are still yet to know. However, you obviously need to stop at some point. Therefore gain enough knowledge and clarity, and then make a decision. Don’t just keep collecting more and more knowledge. This will only lead to indecision.
In the end, it’s not about “planning” to make a decision, it’s rather about getting the outcome that comes from making an effective decision.
Showing No Commitment to Follow-through
When you’re lacking commitment you simply don’t have enough reasons to take action. You must, therefore, find the reasons within yourself to follow-through with your decision.
To find reasons to take action, you must determine why it’s important to make this decision. Ask yourself:
Why must I make this decision?
Why is it important?
What will making this decision mean to me in the short and long-term?
How could this decision positively impact my life?
How could not making this decision negatively impact my life?
This all comes down to the pain-pleasure principle. If you can generate enough pain and pleasure to make the decision, then you will have enough commitment behind you to follow-through with that decision.
Overestimating the Time it Takes to Get Something Done
Overestimating and/or underestimating the time it takes to get something done can significantly lead you astray.
When you overestimate you might rush decisions, and when you underestimate you might not have enough urgency behind your actions. As such, you will fail to make optimal decisions either way.
To overcome this, you must take time to clarify what is required to get your desired outcome. Ask yourself:
What will it take to achieve my desired outcome?
How much time will it take?
What resources might be required?
How easy and/or difficult will it be to acquire these resources?
There are really no written rules here. Every situation is different. You must, however, be very vigilant and willing to ask the right kinds of questions that will help you to gather a full understanding of the circumstances you are working with. Only once you have this clarity will you then have the knowledge required to know what to do moving forward.
Overestimating Your Experience, Resources, Knowledge or Ability
In much the same way as above, you might also overestimate or underestimate your experience, resources, knowledge or ability, and this could also lead you astray.
Working through this barrier effectively comes down to clearly understanding your situation, your role within the situation, and what will be required to make an optimal decision moving forward.
Fear of Making a Wrong Decision
The reality of life is that you will make mistakes. And making mistakes means making wrong decisions. This happens all of the time, and it’s in fact how we learn and grow from our experiences. However, when you fear to make a wrong decision, you often end up actually making a wrong decision or making no decision at all. This all comes back to the fact that you are over-emotionalizing your experience. You are making decisions out of fear, and when you make decisions out of fear you fail to take everything that’s necessary into consideration, and therefore this leads to mistakes and poor decisions.
It’s important to just accept the fact that mistakes will be made. As long as you learn from those mistakes and ensure that you don’t make those same mistakes again, then that is really all you can ask for.
Don’t be afraid to make decisions. A decision made is often much better than a decision not made at all.
The Decision Making Process
Let’s now take a look at the decision-making process you can use every day to ensure you’re always optimizing your efforts by making rational balanced decisions that serve your greater good.
As you work through this process, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to go into so much detail, especially when it comes to relatively minor decisions. In such cases, you might just quickly go through some of these steps and work through the areas that are most relevant for you. However, if you’re about to make a major life decision, or you’re dealing with a significant problem, then it is highly recommended you work through each of these steps in detail.
Step 1: Get Some Clarity
First of all, let’s get a good understanding of the importance of the decision you are about to make. Ask yourself:
What choices are in front of me?
What decision would I ideally want to make?
How would I like this decision to serve me?
Why is this important?
How important is this decision in relation to other decisions in my life?
How important is it to this particular situation?
Could this decision significantly alter my life?
Does this decision just involve me, or does it also involve other people?
Does knowing all this change the importance of this decision?
It is worth knowing the importance of the decision you are about to make in relation to other things because it will help shape how much effort you put into the remainder of the decision-making process.
Step 2: Get the Facts and Explore Possible Options
Your next task is to identify the facts of the situation and possible courses of action moving forward.
If for instance, you’re dealing with a problem, you will need to acquire all the relevant information about this problem including facts, figures, circumstances, people involved, etc. The more information you have about these things, the more you will have to work with as you move through the decision-making process.
Having gathered all this information, take time to consider possible courses of action moving forward. Ask yourself:
What decisions could I potentially make here?
What are the possible courses of action?
What options lay before me?
What will be required to take each course of action?
Consider for a moment that certain courses of action might require a specific set of resources, tools, skills, etc. As such, some of these courses of action will require more effort than others.
You must also take into consideration your values, strengths, weaknesses, priorities, perspectives, assumptions, etc. Have a think about how all these things may directly and/or indirectly influence the decision you are about to make. You might, for instance, have certain weaknesses that might rule-out specific courses of action. Or, you might need to re-prioritize things in order to create enough time in your schedule to undertake the things under consideration. Ask yourself:
What are my strengths? How might they help me in this situation?
What are my weaknesses? How might they hinder me?
How might I need to re-prioritize things to make this decision work long-term?
What must I believe about myself, about others, and about these circumstances in order to make this work?
Am I making any assumptions or jumping to any sort of conclusions about these circumstances?
Your goal here is to ensure that you don’t rush into making a decision that isn’t congruent with your life, abilities, priorities, and circumstances. Often, we all have a tendency to make decisions that we don’t think through thoroughly enough, and then down the track, we realize that we should have made an alternate choice — realizing we simply didn’t have the ability to manage the decision in the first place.
Having answered these questions, you should now have more clarity about what might be the best course of action moving forward. However, if you’re still lacking clarity, then move onto Step Three of this process.
Step 3: Assess the Pros and Cons
Having outlined your courses of action, it’s now time to look at the pros and cons of each decision you could potentially make. Ask yourself:
What are the advantages of taking this course of action?
What are the disadvantages of taking this course of action?
What are the advantages of doing this over that?
What are the disadvantages of doing this over that?
As you ask yourself these questions, consider the sacrifices you might now need to make to follow through with a certain course of action. These sacrifices could come in the form of giving up certain things or taking on more responsibilities that put added pressure on your shoulders. No matter what it is, you must fully understand what you are “giving up” and what you are potentially “gaining” by taking a certain course of action.
All this essentially boils down to an opportunity cost. Taking one course of action means you won’t be able to take another course of action, and there could be advantages and disadvantages to both decisions.
At the conclusion of this step, select two or three courses of action that you feel most comfortable with moving forward.
Step 4: Identify the Worst-Case Scenario
Let’s now delve into worst-case scenarios.
Consider for a moment Murphy’s Law, which states that everything that could go wrong, will go wrong, all of the time, at the worst possible time, when you least expect it.
Now, taking Murphy’s law into account, have a think about the worst-case scenarios for all your courses of action. Ask yourself:
What is the absolute worst that could happen if I make this decision?
What’s the worst-case scenario?
How will I handle these scenarios?
It’s of course very possible that worst-case scenarios will not eventuate. However, it’s always best to be prepared for the worst by developing alternative courses of action just in case things go wrong.
As you work through these scenarios you will get feelings and inklings that tell you that a certain course of action might not be in your best interests. Be sure to tune-in to those intuitive feelings as they might be hinting at something important that’s related to the decision you are about to make. Ask yourself:
If I choose this, will it allow me to achieve my desired outcome or not?
If I choose this, will it allow me to be who I want to be or not?
If I choose this over that, how will that make me feel? Does it feel right?
As you ask yourself these questions, tune-in to your intuition. Get a sense of each decision you are about to make. And above all else, remember that sometimes the easiest path moving forward isn’t always the best path to take. But other times it certainly is.
Step 5: Make a Definitive Decision
It’s now time to make a decision. Choose a course of action and take immediate steps moving forward. However, be sure to stay flexible and make necessary adjustments along your journey.
Remember that it’s not about “sticking” to your decision or your chosen course of action. It’s about having the courage and the awareness to alter your course whenever required. Oftentimes your destination will be a standing target, however at other times it will move, and you will need to move with it.
Step 6: Learn from Your Experience
Congratulations, you have made your decision, and you are now either reaping the rewards of your efforts or regretting the mistakes you made. Either way, it’s all a learning experience. And as such, it’s important to take some time to evaluate the outcomes you realized. To do this, ask yourself:
What have I learned from this experience?
What have I learned about how I make decisions?
Was this decision fully congruent with my life? Why? Why not?
Did I reach my desired outcome? If not, then what other outcome did I realize?
Did I make the right decisions along the way?
Did I adjust my course of action to changing conditions and circumstances? Why? Why not?
What consequences have resulted from this course of action?
Have I created more problems for myself?
Have I expanded my opportunities and perspective?
No matter what happened, is there a silver lining here? What is it?
What can I learn from all of this to help me make better decisions in the future?
There are a plethora of questions you could potentially ask yourself. Therefore, please don’t limit yourself to just these questions. Think of other questions you could ask, especially after a mistake, defeat or failure.
Decision-making is a skill that takes time to learn and master. You will get better over time, however, you will need to make mistakes. And even when you get good at making decisions in certain situations, they might not work out so well in other situations. That is because every circumstance presents you with a different set of criteria. As such, you must always be vigilant and keep an open mind. Don’t ever get complacent. After all, a decision that worked out well for you last week may not work so well this week. Likewise, what you failed to do yesterday you might succeed at today because you took the time to learn from your experience. And that is all you can realistically ask of yourself.
Finally, remind yourself that the answers you are searching for don’t lie at the end of your destination. They lie along your journey towards that destination. Therefore when things go wrong, take time to contemplate your journey. That is the best way I know of to improve your results.
Guidelines for Better Decision Making
To conclude our discussion, let’s take a look at some dos and donts of decision-making that are important to keep in mind.
When you make a decision it’s important to put 100 percent effort behind that decision. Don’t dare hesitate. Hesitation only brings with it uncertainty and doubt. You must either commit fully and wholeheartedly to that decision or refrain from making the decision in the first place. Furthermore, when you hesitate you might miss an opportunity or get the timing of your decision all wrong. Both scenarios can potentially lead to regret.
Don’t Change Decisions Quickly
The one thing worse than hesitation and/or unnecessarily delaying your decision is changing your decisions too quickly. Yes, of course, be vigilant of changing conditions and circumstances. When certain things arise you might very well need to alter your course of action. However, be wary that in the spur of the moment things might not be as they seem. You might not yet have the full picture in view, and therefore making a quick judgment-call at this very moment might be very irrational and impractical. Instead, wait it out, gain more knowledge, and find out for certain if things are as they appear to be. Only then will you be in a position to make an optimal decision.
Don’t Make Assumptions
It’s important that you never base your decisions on assumptions, past experience, or upon standard practices. What worked in the past might not work in the present moment. You can of course certainly learn from past experience and use it to help guide your current decision, however making the assumption that what worked in the past will also work in the present is very dangerous and can lead to mistakes.
Along the same lines, it’s important to never base your decisions on standard practices. Don’t assume that what’s widely accepted is either right or wrong. Instead, do some research and identify what works best for you in your particular circumstances.
We often make many assumptions throughout the day. Assumptions are important because they help us fill in the blanks without us needing to acquire more information. However, assumptions can be very misleading when it comes to making important life decisions. You might, for instance, assume one thing, and as a result, you take a certain course of action. However, little did you realize at the time that your assumption was false and that an alternate course of action was more optimal in your situation.
In scenarios such as this, it’s always important to question your circumstances and the decision you are about to make as thoroughly as possible. Question the facts, the people, and the circumstances. Also, question your beliefs and perspectives. Maybe you’re not quite seeing the full picture, and as a result, you might not have all the information required to make a rational decision. Ask yourself:
What am I potentially not seeing here?
What assumptions might I be making?
How could my assumptions hurt me?
What information do I need that will help me clarify my assumptions?
You may of course not have all the information at your disposal to make an optimal decision. In that case, you will need to base your decision on several assumptions. However, as you take action be vigilant and open-minded to new perspectives, ideas, and information that may very well shift how you think and feel about things.
Avoid Habitual Traps
The habitual traps I’m referring to here come in the form of perfectionism and instant gratification.
When you live your life as a perfectionist you absorb yourself in making many small and insignificant decisions, while avoiding the big decisions at all costs. This leads to stagnation and will certainly not help you get the results you are after. You must instead focus on doing things to a “good enough” level. When things are good enough, just move on.
Above all else, it’s important not to allow the small and insignificant decisions to interfere with the most important decisions in your life.
Instant gratification is another habitual trap that will prevent you from following through with the important decisions you want to make. This is a “pleasure” trap that diverts your attention away from doing the important and somewhat uncomfortable things. You think you’re on track, but then your attention is diverted for a moment and you instantly lose the momentum you’ve created.
For insights on how to overcome this trap, please read Escaping the Instant Gratification Trap.
Rephrase Your Questions
When you’re stuck and unable to make up your mind about something, then start by rephrasing the questions you ask yourself. This will immediately encourage you to think differently about your life and circumstances, and as a result, you will gain more clarity-of-mind.
Take Full Responsibility
No matter what happens, you must always commit yourself to your decision and take full responsibility for your actions.
With full responsibility comes accountability. You no longer make excuses or blame your outcomes on external sources or other people. You instead accept that you created these outcomes — for better or worse — and you must now learn from your mistakes and adjust your course of action accordingly.
Focus on What’s Right
When making any kind of decision, it’s important to always keep in mind “what’s right” not “who’s right”.
When you focus on what is right, you work from a position of integrity and honor. Furthermore, you make decisions based on what is best for you, best for others, and serves the greater good in the long-run. You subsequently experience no regrets and every decision you make is purposeful.
Make Bigger Decisions
The best way to improve your decision-making is to consistently make bigger and bolder decisions each and every day. Yes, of course, you will make mistakes, however, you will learn from those mistakes. And the more decisions you make the more you will learn, and the more you learn the better decisions you will make in the future.
Making more significant decisions on a consistent basis can dramatically alter the course of your life. Not only because you are making these decisions, but because you are taking bolder steps moving forward that will help boost your self-confidence; thereby inspiring the courage you need to live with more purpose.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 6 Science-Backed Ways to Make Better Decisions @ Huffington Post
- 6 Tips for Making Better Decisions @ Forbes
- 14 Ways to Make Better Decisions and Strengthen Your Willpower @ Business Insider
- Don’t Overthink it: 5 Tips for Daily Decision-Making @ 99u
- How Good is Your Decision Making? @ Mind Tools
- How to Make a Killer Decision in 10 Easy Steps @ Pick the Brain
- How to Make an Effective Decision in Business and Life @ Huffington Post
- How to Make Better Decisions in Your Life with 6 Helpful Tips @ Bustle
- How to Make Better Life-Changing Decisions @ Huffington Post
- How to Make a Tough and Emotional Decision @ Entrepreneur
- When You Fear Making the Wrong Decision @ Tiny Buddha
- Why Good People Make Bad Decision @ Dumb Little Man