Even before we can speak, we start making decisions. When a baby reaches or points to a certain toy, he has “decided” that he wants to play with the green teddy bear and not the blue stuffed puppy. The older we get, the more decisions we make daily – and the more complicated these decisions become.
In fact, we make thousands of decisions daily, ranging from the insignificant to the life changing. Decisions are a fundamental part of our lives.
Decision-making comes easily for some people, but others struggle with deciding, especially important ones that will affect their future. These types of decisions are often quite stressful and therefore, may get delayed. But they will remain in the back of our minds, nagging us to take action, causing more stress and indecision.
Consider the following dos and don’ts of decision-making. They will empower you to make better decisions, big or small, with more confidence, less stress and the least possible delay.
The 5 Dos:
1. Determine why the decision needs to be made
Recognise why the decision needs to be made. Is it to solve a specific problem? Reverse or remedy an existing situation? Is it to improve a certain aspect of your life or business? Identifying the specific goal of your decision is the first step to tackling it efficiently.
2. Collect relevant information
Determine what information you will need to decide. Will it require a cost analysis or market study? Do you need certain specifications? Do you need a list of prices, catalogues or brochures?
Do collect all the relevant information that you need, but try to keep it to a minimum so that you don’t get overwhelmed with information overload.
3. Weigh up all the potential outcomes
Narrow down the likely outcomes until you have two or three that you see as the most beneficial. Out of those three, choose the one that can most effectively and successfully implement.
4. Consult others
It may be necessary to consult with other people through brainstorming sessions. These may be people who will be impacted by the decision or experts who can contribute valuable input.
Equally important is to ask others for feedback once the decision is implemented.
5. Refer to experience
Pattern recognition is the process through which we draw on experience to guide us. They relate many of the decisions we make to similar ones we made in the past. Although no two situations are identical, we can still draw on this experience to tackle the decision in hand, avoiding what worked and what didn’t.
The 5 Don’ts:
1. Don’t doubt yourself
Everybody makes poor decisions sometimes. But we also made brilliant decisions as well and will continue to do so.
Lack of self-confidence is the major obstacle to timely and effective decision-making. Always remind yourself that you have been diligent and thorough in collecting the relevant information and weighing outcomes. Know that you will make the best decision you can in the current situation. Short of being able to control the future, there’s nothing more you can do,
2. Don’t procrastinate
When a decision needs to be made, set a time to sit down and make it. Deciding to “sleep on it” for a few days will not make it disappear.
3. Don’t rely on gut feeling or emotion
Some decisions, like a preference for a certain colour or style, are emotionally based. But important decisions should never rely solely on emotions or gut feelings – unless you have concrete evidence or information that backs it up. If not, put your emotions aside and objectively work with the information you have.
4. Don’t compromise your values
Decisions that compromise your personal values or religious beliefs should be made with a resounding “no” or passed on to someone else, if possible. Never compromise your integrity because it’s you who have to live with your conscience.
5. Don’t drown yourself in detail
Don’t over-analyse or overburden yourself with minute details. This just causes confusion and prolongs the process. Keep the end outcome in mind and rely only on information that serves that outcome.
Some decisions that we make daily are so trivial that we make them without a second thought. But other decisions are more important and can affect our business and personal lives. It’s these types of decisions that we sometimes struggle with and delay out of fear.
It’s vital to understand that delaying a decision may sometimes make things worse in the long run. All important decisions involve an element of risk and not all of them will have the desired outcome – but they need to be made.
The simple dos and don’ts discussed here are the best risk-management tools you can use to ensure that you make the best possible decision in any situation.
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