We are faced with choices every day. From the minute we wake up to the moment we go to sleep at night. While the ‘beef or chicken’ variety requires very little brainwork, the choices that pop up from 9 to 5 can make money or cost money, secure or lose clients, and make us famous or infamous.
This is not to say that there are no high-risk decisions in the hours we’re not at our desk; it’s just that those related to work make their appearance in our lives on a daily basis and thus more often.
While some of us are adept at dealing with these decisions, making choices swiftly and effectively, others agonise over the options in front of us for hours and even days. Being this indecisive creates stress and decreases efficiency, which is not an enviable state to be in.
But why do we struggle so much to make up our minds? There seems to be three main reasons:
You want to make the right decision
The thing you have to realise is that in most cases there is no way to know if the decision you’re about to make is the right one. You can anticipate or project an outcome, but until a decision is made, the actual outcome won’t be known.
Here is another fact you need to be cognisant of: it is inevitable that you will get it wrong from time to time. So instead of putting pressure on yourself to make the right decision, make the best decision you can.
Then evaluate the outcome in a month, two months or whatever timeframe is most appropriate. If the situation needs adjusting, make the necessary changes and learn from the experience. Continue to incorporate lessons learned into decisions you have to make and you’ll do better every time.
You’re in a state of analysis-paralysis
You have multiple solutions to a problem in front of you. Each solution has its own pros and cons, with possible outcomes. You’ve gone backwards and forwards more times than you care to remember. The more you think, the more confused and uncertain you become. This is analysis-paralysis.
To get out of this vortex, consult with someone else or, if it affects a team, get subordinates or colleagues together for a brainstorm. Always set a time limit – this will create a sense of urgency and deliver a result quicker.
You’re overwhelmed by the information at hand
If the problem is that you have plethora of information to work through, you have to approach the situation logically. The best way to do this is with a pros and cons list.
But first, simply read through the documents, presentations and all else that is at your disposal. Make notes as you go along of the most important points that will help you make a decision.
Now take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns; one for pros and one for cons. Start jotting down all the pros and cons you can think of. Allocate a value to each to simplify the process further. For instance, a score of 1 could mean that the specific point carries little weight, while a score of 5 means it carries a lot of weight. Then total the values to see which side comes out tops, indicating the choice to be made.
To hone your decision making skills before you actually have to make a decision, those in the know recommend sharpening your research skills, developing your problem-solving abilities, enrolling for business management training courses and, believe it or not, playing video games. The bottom line is that you don’t have to fear making important decisions. Face them head-on and before long you’ll relish in the challenges choices present.
Terrence is a reader, writer and researcher. He’s passionate about most thing in life, but has a special interest in business topics, as well as tech.