Making decisions is part of our everyday life. In fact, quick decision-making skills become a huge asset when one is going through stressful and pressing times.
However, at times you may struggle to make even the simplest decisions. Sometimes, circumstances may force you to seek more time or information to arrive at a definite conclusion. The bottom line is, you need to keep your decision-making skills polished to face any eventuality.
The following ten quirky methods will help improve your decision-making skills.
1. Check the Pros and Cons
Most people become victims of “analysis paralysis” because they are afraid of making a wrong decision. Others make quick, but inapt decisions as they fail to consider all the alternatives. Both situations are equally dangerous. However, you can easily get out of this dilemma by weighing the pros and cons of your decision.
When preparing the list of pros and cons, use a specific question or criteria. Make sure to consider the differences between your choices, not the similarities. Include only relevant points in your list. Discuss the possible outcomes of different scenarios with people who have a stake in the decision.
This method offers more benefits than you can imagine. Weighing pros and cons will speed up your decision-making process, avoiding delays and any losses occurring therein. Plus, you can make an informed decision as you have a better understanding of the situation, leading to the best possible outcome.
2. Don’t Dwell on Perfection
The fear of making the wrong decision often drives us towards making the perfect decision. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect decision. In fact, the mask of perfection will only delay your decision-making process, adding more confusion to a situation that is already complicated. Sometimes, people dwell on perfection to the point that it leads to indecisiveness.
Remember, no decision you ever make will be flawless, nor will it be completely awful. From my experience, I have learned that the issue is not about making perfect decisions, but making the most of your decisions. So, don’t dwell on perfection. Just make the best possible decision and keep moving forward.
3. Thorough Research Is Key
Though this seems obvious, performing thorough research can improve your decision-making process dramatically, particularly when making major decisions. Big decisions require careful analysis of tons of data, which in turn, requires in-depth research.
For example, buying a new car is a significant financial investment. So, before going ahead with the decision, you must collect as much information about cars as possible including the average maintenance cost, fuel economy, safety and other features, and the total cost. We live in the digital age, so you are more likely to use the internet to look for information. Just make sure you are collecting the information from a reliable source.
4. Seek Guidance from Reliable Sources
Sometimes you may have to make tough decisions that can leave you in a seemingly daunting situation. Fortunately, you don’t have to make such decisions on your own. You can seek advice from your friends, family members, and colleagues. Though seeking counsel will reassure you that you’re making the right decision, it should come from a reliable person.
The credible sources will never tell you what you want to hear or what they want you to hear. Instead, they will provide an unbiased version of the cold hard truth to help you make a well-informed decision. Make sure your source has no personal interests that can influence their advice.
However, avoid going overboard with seeking counsel. The more people you consult, the more confused you can get. So, you must decide how much counsel you are going to seek before reaching out to the concerned people.
5. Don’t Let Your Emotions Get the Best of You
Decision-making can be difficult if you let your emotions get the best of you. In fact, impulsive and rash decisions are often the outcomes of involving your emotions and ego in the decision-making process. Anger, fear, and ego are the most common emotions that can get in the way of rational decision making.
Most people will recommend solving your problems objectively, asking you to focus on the facts instead of your emotions. However, sometimes despite your best efforts, emotions will influence your decisions. The good news is emotions have tremendous action potential.
In other words, you can take advantage of your emotions in decision-making if you make proper use of them. So, when you are working with a team, it is important to reckon the emotional state of everyone on board.
6. Trust Your Common Sense
Common sense plays a critical role in the decision-making process, even though it is not a hundred percent of the equation. According to a recent study conducted by The Good Practice Exchange, in a ‘safe to fail’ context, people find it more helpful to use a combination of common sense and freedom to act to make their decisions, in preference to clear rules and a process.
So, you must learn to understand what your common sense says and use it to come up with a better decision. However, this was a limited analysis of a small set of data and deserves further examination and wider discussion. That’s why you should use your common sense to make small decisions. In the case of major decisions, trust your common sense if other options seem to fail.
7. Learn from Your Bad Decisions
No one is perfect. We all make poor choices, the ones that can haunt us for years to come. Most people never learn to accept the gut-wrenching choices they have made, affecting their decision-making ability. They rarely realize that bad decisions can lead to valuable life lessons.
No one is keeping score of the bad decisions you have made in the past except you. That’s why not dwelling on your past mistakes is entirely up to you. Focus your energy on turning those mistakes into your biggest strengths. Start thinking about the poor decisions you have made so far as learning opportunities. After all, it is not your failure that matters, but how you use that failure to get the most out of your life.
8. Get Exercising
Apart from achieving improved physical strength and a great shape, regular exercise offers various mental benefits that help improve your decision-making ability. According to a study conducted by Harvard psychology professor, Emily E. Bernstein, Ph.D., acute aerobic exercise helps overcome emotion regulation deficits. With distracting emotions out of the way, your mind becomes more productive, improving your decision-making ability.
Even a 30-minute run every morning can reduce your stress and boost the feeling of happiness as it releases endorphins. However, the biggest advantage of regular exercise is that it keeps your brain sharp in the long-term. In other words, exercise can slow down the cognitive decline of your mind, keeping it sharp into old age. So, whether it is figure skating or jogging, whichever physical activity suits you, do it regularly.
9. Don’t Procrastinate
Usually, people make simple decisions quickly. However, with complicated decisions comes the weakness of delaying the decision-making process. This is the beginning of a vicious cycle, commonly known as procrastination. However, just like your emotions, procrastination is not a bad thing if you use it to your advantage.
Sometimes, limited procrastination allows you to collect more information or data to driving your decision in the right direction. At other times, the situation resolves itself. Procrastination can also allow you to see facts clearly as it gives time for emotions to fade away.
However, if the root of your procrastination is the fear of the potential outcomes, it becomes corrosive and damaging. So, recognize if you are a negative procrastinator and fix it so you can become a better decision-maker.
10. Be Prepared for the Worst Possible Outcome
The expression, “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst” aptly describes how you should deal with the decisions you have taken. You are responsible for your decisions. However, sometimes despite your best efforts, circumstances may prevent the desired outcome because several unforeseen factors can influence the outcome of your decisions at any time. This can and does happen to millions of people across the globe every day.
That’s why it’s your responsibility to prepare for the worst possible outcome of your decisions. If possible, try to bring promising solutions to the table to resolve the situation. Identifying probable risks and ways to mitigate them well in advance can also help you deal with worst case scenarios. Own up the outcome, whatever it is, and figure out a way to avoid such situations in future.
We are faced with the need to make decisions every day. While some of the decisions are simple to make, others may seem difficult. The bottom line is, decision-making is a demanding but an inevitable process.
Fortunately, it is also a talent that can be learned and improved upon. These ten quirky methods can help you improve your decision-making skills, making your life comfortable and peaceful.