There’s few things that I hate more than making tough decisions. It’s usually a complete disaster.
Even comparatively trivial decisions such as spending $700 on a 3 week trip to Thailand took weeks.
I would think through all the alternatives, go round in circles and eventually end up frustrated, confused and depleted of willpower. Let’s better not talk about the time wasted. Complete and full-on disaster.
Ultimately, coming up with a streamlined decision making process became a necessity.
Making decisions is both a skill and an art.
You get better with practice and definitely once you’ve found your own process. In the end, that’s what everyone should aim for: finding what works for you.
The benefits are obvious – making quicker progress, less frustration and life becomes more of a smoother ride, rather than a bumpy road. Mistakes can quickly be turned into lessons learned.
Resolve Decisions In 2 Steps
All decision making is based on values and goals – this is something we do naturally anyway. However, without knowing your values or not having set goals, making a decision becomes significantly more difficult.
After all, what do you base your decisions on?
Decision making is value clarification. You decide which value or goal you pick over another.
I’ve struggled with this for so long because I haven’t set any goals at all. Nowadays, I’m able to do it in as little as 15 minutes.
An important ingredient for making good and quick decisions is the state of mind you’re in. I always put leverage on myself to resolve and decision I am facing. The best way of doing this is to focus on the potential consequences of NOT making timely decision.
- The time you waste by dabbling.
- The unresolved issue that you’ll always have in the back of your mind.
- The missed opportunities by neither deciding for, nor against any option.
Making no decision or putting it off indefinitely is also a decision. It’s the worst of all options and costs more mental energy and time than making a wrong decision, learning from the mistake and moving ahead.
Important decisions are best made on paper, otherwise going round in circles becomes an issue.
1. Brainstorming Options
The more alternatives you come up with, the better you are off. Brainstorming on paper is my favorite way of coming up with a series of options and sometimes even ideas that solve the problem entirely. At least 3 options are needed, otherwise you are facing a dilemma.
Furthermore, each option can be ranked based on certain criteria. This could be something like costs in terms of time, money, or simply the risks or potential rewards involved.
If the top choice doesn’t become stand out at this point, I’ll usually sleep over it and decide the next morning. The subconscious works in fascinating ways and sometimes taking a nap, or waiting until the next day brings more clarity to your thoughts.
2. Commitment & Action
Immediately – and I mean that – after making a decisions, action has to follow. That’s the ONLY way of locking yourself in and staying committed to the new decision. Right after I decided to visit Thailand, I cemented the decision by looking up flights and booking a ticket.
Taking action could be anything from making a phone call, to scheduling an appointment and even purchasing a specific item. This step is absolutely essential because without making a commitment, the decision won’t be and feel real.
A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action.
The action is where you burn the bridges – you leave yourself no way of going back.
Frankly, most decision don’t require this sort of process, but it’ll be even more valuable for the ones that do.