When you own your decisions you own yourself. You live by your values and stop wavering back and forth over matters big and small, whether it’s buying a house or ordering breakfast. You take control of your future instead of turning the responsibility over to someone else.
Effective decision-making is a skill that you can polish even if you’ve had trouble making up your mind in the past.
If you want to say goodbye to feeling stymied, try these tips.
Mastering the Decision-Making Process
- Remember your purpose. Think about the essence of who you are and what you want to achieve. Align your choices with your values.
- Gather information. Having an accurate and up-to-date picture of your situation will help you to know what to do. However, research can drag on so long that it becomes a form of procrastination, so put a time limit on it.
- Clarify options. Take into account each of your possible choices. You usually have several reasonable alternatives.
- Weigh different factors. Some items are bound to be more important to you than others. For example, you might compare two job offers by writing down all the criteria, and assigning numbers to them so you can see the one with the highest score based on salary, commute time, and other considerations.
- Make a commitment. Select your favored option and let it sink in. Once you have a clear winner, let go of the temptation to keep rehashing other scenarios.
- Move forward. Put your decision into action. Do what you can to make it work.
- Evaluate your progress. Remember that most decisions are at least somewhat reversible. Analyzing the outcomes will help you enjoy your victory or make some modifications.
Overcoming Obstacles to Decision-Making
- Slow down. Avoid acting on impulse or creating unnecessary pressure on yourself to pick an option when you still feel unsure. You may see things more clearly when you sleep on a decision or talk it over with someone you trust.
- Listen to your feelings. Your emotions often tell you what you really value. Pay attention if an otherwise reasonable choice causes anxiety for you or a less conventional route makes you smile.
- Face your fears. Risks are a natural part of life. Acknowledging your fears allows you to sort through them.
- Limit the choices. It’s possible to have too many options and wind up overwhelmed. Narrow the field down before making a final decision.
- Distance yourself. Imagine what advice you’d give to someone else in the same circumstances. It’s often a quick way to persuade yourself to think more objectively.
- Accept trade-offs. What if several options offer different advantages? At some point, you may have to let something go to gain the things you want more.
- Achieve consensus. Some decisions affect more than one individual and need to be shared. For example, when you’re planning a family, you and your spouse will need to find an arrangement that satisfies both of you.
- Look inward. Confirm that you’re making decisions for yourself instead of following the crowd or trying to please someone else. Your happiness depends on listening to your heart. Your definition of fulfillment and success is what counts.
Indecisiveness can lead to frustration, wasted time, and lost opportunities. Free yourself from excessive doubts and second-guesses. Choose your course and move forward even when the stakes are high. Either the results will turn out in your favor, or you can learn from the experience and make the necessary adjustments.