I used to dread making decisions. Well, I’m still not super happy about making tough calls. But I am a lot better at it now, and better at making the right calls.
I have friends that always seem to act on impulse. They make snap decisions without giving it a second thought. This always used to impress me, and somewhat baffle me.
I used to think, well ‘they aren’t taking this seriously’. Or, ‘they are just taking a wild guess, I could do that’.
Often the truth is that some people are just better at making quicker decisions. Being decisive can be a valuable skill, so a few years ago I decided to study into how I could be more decisive.
I went through quite a lot of research and tried out various pieces of advice. But in summary, I can sum it up in a few steps that anyone can take themselves too.
So if you want to work at being more decisive, here are some steps for you to try.
4 Steps I Took to Become More Decisive
Stop Worrying over the Small Things
On this journey to become more decisive I discovered that I am actually quite the worrier. Making decisions becomes a much bigger task when you’re worrying about the result of the decision.
It’s easy to make a small decision into something a lot bigger than it needs to be by worrying about it. Think at some situations you have had yourself, when you look back don’t they seem a lot more trivial?
Obviously we do need to make educated decisions and be aware of the consequences. But worry about things that are out of our control is not productive.
One way to deal with this is to write down a list of the pros and cons. This way you have all the facts written down, and you will not be going over and over it in your head.
Another way to set yourself a time limit to make the decision. There is an argument that we can always make a decision fairly quickly. Yet we will talk ourselves out of it if we wait.
Either way, you need to actively set yourself a short goal to make a decision and stop worrying about things out of your control. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you try.
What Are Your Objectives and Goals?
Understanding what your goals and objectives are can make decision making a lot easier. If you have an end goal, you know the hurdles you need to jump through to get there.
This is best displayed in the workplace. There is normally a common goal that is best for a business. And, although there will be debates and indecision among a large team, everyone should be able to agree on the desired outcome.
The principle is the same when you’re making decisions for yourself. If you don’t feel you’re sure what your end goals are, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen.
We all have goals and objectives, even if we aren’t consciously aware of them. So when faced with decisions along the way, make decisions based on your goals.
For example, if you have a career in mind, making decisions that will help you work towards that career are easy to make. Go for it, follow your heart.
Start Confronting Your Fears
Fear is a huge immobilizing force on our decision making. I will start off by telling you right now, you will live to regret allowing fear to dictate your decisions.
Some fears are just illusions, seriously. They are trapped in our minds and cannot really have the consequences you fear from them.
But regardless of how real the fear is, ignoring it never helps. You will need to confront the fear at some point in your life. So now is the ideal time to start.
Again, as with a lot of exercises that help in decision making, make some notes on a piece of paper. This has always been extremely helpful for me, and works for a lot of people.
Write down what the worst case scenario is, then discuss it with a close friend if you can. Getting a second perspective is usually an eye-opener. Especially when they reassure you it’s nowhere near as bad as you think.
Become In-Tune with Your Gut Instinct
As mentioned earlier, some people are in-tune with their gut instinct. They get that ‘feeling’ when they need to make a decision.
Right or wrong, they followed what they felt were right, and it helped them make a decision. But what exactly is gut instinct, and does it work?
There is some debate on either side of the fence when it comes to instinct. But it is certainly to do with our primal instincts.
Much like how animals are able to make instinctual decision that’s best for their health and wellbeing.
It doesn’t always mean you can trust this instinct, and for some people it’s stronger than others. But we need to believe in ourselves sometimes. I tend to trust my gut instinct more often than not, and it hasn’t let me down too often.
This comes down to how comfortable you are with this feeling and the impending decision. But start listening to your inner self, and pay attention to how you feel about a decision.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.