Making decisions can be difficult, stress inducing and create a sense of insecurity. Even the most confident individuals may occasionally suffer from a brief bout of decidophobia: the fear of making serious decisions.
When we fear something or are not sure whether or not to do something and we do nothing- put off making a decision or taking any action we are being passive and letting the passage of time make our decision for us.
Indecision is a silent enemy that steals many opportunities from us. You cannot decide what to say to a friend who has lost a relative – so you say nothing, loosing the opportunity to provide support to your friend in need. You put off deciding if you can afford to go to a conference, leave the information on your desk and by the next time you pick it up the event has already passed. Your lack of decision making means you miss an opportunity to meet with your colleagues and learn about your industry.
Not taking action is a decision. It is a passive decision and a decision none the less. When you make a decision you no longer have to carry around the distracting question of “what should I do?” Be pro-active about making decisions. Unresolved decisions take up energy in your body and thoughts in your head.
Unless you are using your intuition, challenging decisions are best made with a pencil and paper and a strategy. Otherwise you can spin yourself into concentric circles with all kinds of ideas going around and around in your head.
There are several different decision making strategies you can use, some strategies are more appropriate than others depending on your situation or the presenting challenge. Sometimes you may want to run a decision through two or more decision making methods to make sure you have looked at a problem from all angles. Here are three decision-making strategies that I encourage you to use. Try each one over the next few days for a different decision that has to be made.
Light Speed Decision Making
Making decisions is a tool for staying organized. According to Deborah Silverberg, a professional organizer, the clutter that resides in our home, office and even in the trunk of a car is largely the result of an inability to make decisions. People pick up the same piece of paper several times never deciding what to do with it which is why they have stacks and piles of paper and projects everywhere.
Making decisions is a also time management tool. We take too much time to make decisions because we are afraid of making the wrong decision. In most cases a wrong decision may not have significant consequences. Begin to make non-crucial decisions quickly.
For any skill we want to develop in life it is always a good idea to practice that new skill in ways that are not as significant at first in order to fine tune that skill and build a little confidence.
Try making 5 decisions quickly every day as an exercise in making decisions and notice the difference from how you are operating now.
This or That
Sometimes we do not make decisions because we have so much to do we feel overwhelmed with everything that has to get done. Instead of making decisions we procrastinate with television, or cleaning or other activities that give us more of a sense of control.
This or That is a great tool to employ when you are feeling overwhelmed and not sure what to do first.
Step one: Write down everything you want to complete or make a decision about today.
Step two: Ask yourself what you want to start with, consider what absolutely needs to be completed today. That item gets top priority.
Step three: Then look at the next item on your list and ask yourself if it is more important that this (the second item on your sheet) is completed before that (the third item on your sheet.) And then you do the same thing with the new item on down the sheet.
For example if you had ten calls to make, a house to clean, a report to write, invitations to send out and a jog to take. You would pick the report to start with because it has to be finished before tomorrow, the invitations would follow because you want to get them in the mail today. Next is the jog because it invigorates you, next comes the calls because they keep getting put off and finally the house gets clean. If the calls and the house does not happen until tomorrow there are few consequences and that works for you.
Heavy on the Intuition
Sometimes the best decision making tool is to take a deep breath, close your eyes and ask yourself what feels right in your body and your heart. This is the trust your gut method of decision making. If you are packing for a trip and you ask yourself “should I bring my bathing suit or leave it at home?” Do not consider every possible scenario. Instead take a deep breath, ask yourself what feels true and throw the suit in your suitcase or not and forget about it. The next time you want to have a meal delivered and you are thinking “should I call out for pizza or Chinese food?”, you do not have to run through in your mind everything on each menu, ask yourself when was the last time you ate each of these cuisines and estimate which one is more economical. Instead take a moment take a deep breath – ask your stomach what it is in the mood for and then dial the number for the selected cuisine.
Do not save your decision making for when you have a few night caps. Instead pull out a pencil and paper or simply take a deep breath and make your decision happen. The more you use these methods the better your decision making will become.