Are you a decision-making deserter? A choice chicken? A resolve runaway? Do you obsess about every choice you have to make, annoying yourself and your friends? Do I ask too many questions? Could I go on longer?
But I won’t.
Okay, right now you need to know you always have a choice. You can always choose to:
Obviously some choices are easier than others. Obviously.
So where do we start? How do we become ninja decision-makers? Let’s start with the difference between making a decision based on instinct versus logic.
Women and men tend to view instinct differently. Women see this as the power of “intuition,” with men tending to view it as “trusting your gut.” Obviously, this is not a hard and fast rule, like anything we talk about here. How do we develop our intuition or gut, though? How do we learn to listen to our “inner voice,” telling us that something is up? One way to hone in on this skill is to start writing down situations and then following-up on the outcome. Here are some instances that might be helpful or that you might even remember happening to you that involve instinct:
A friend shares a story with you, and you know the ending before they get there
Someone introduces you to a new friend, and that person just doesn’t seem “right.” You share this information with your friend, and your instincts end up being right.
You’re watching or reading a mystery, and you know the ending or who the guilty person is before the end.
An old friend that you haven’t had contact with in a while keeps coming to mind. You reach out to them, and it turns out that they’re in some sort of crisis and could really use you right now.
You have “a feeling” about some travel plans. You express your fears to those close to you and then learn that the highway has been closed due to safety concerns (sinkhole, bridge, flooding, etc.)
I KNEW it!
By recording your thoughts and the outcomes, you can begin to see that you can trust your instincts and begin to see them as a “partner” in your decision-making process. This intuition can give you an edge in decisions, because the more life experience you have, the more expertise you have.
How, then, do we use analysis to inform our decision-making skills? Aside from the good old pros/cons list (my preferred method), how can we consciously make a strategic plan to take decisive action?
Gather information. Figure out the facts about the situation and decide what you actually know. Take the emotion out and try look at it from all the possible angles. This is a method that can definitely make you feel like you have more control over the decision-making process. Get out a pen and paper and just go for it.
Check yourself. You know, before you…wreck…your…self. But seriously, if you’re in serious – or even moderate – turmoil, you don’t want to make any decisions, especially serious ones. Just get reamed by your boss? Don’t up and quit. Just find out your kid was bullied? Don’t pick up the phone to call the other kid’s parents. Third in line at the grocery and the cashier can’t scan those pork chops? Take a breath and remember that waiting in line is part of being at the grocery. Don’t make decisions when you’re emotional. Better yet, don’t act when you’re emotional. Take a walk, get some space, remove yourself from the situation, re-strategize your game, whatever. Then approach your problem with a fresh head.
Whether your decision is right really only matters if it’s a huge life-altering decision, correct? Your life doesn’t hinge on whether you should choose white or ivory sheets for your bed.
No it doesn’t.
But the answer is always white.
Those life-altering decisions require a careful blend of logical, intuitive decision-making, which you already have the tools to do. Here’s my advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff, and be bold in your decision-making. The rest will fall into place.