How to make decisions

What if I make the wrong decision?

Decisions can be difficult. Our fear of making a wrong decision can be paralysing but have you asked yourself what are you scared of and why? You won’t always make the best decision, but a decision and a plan of action is better than standing still. While ‘wrong’ decisions can feel awful when they happen, we learn and grow from them. They are part of our lessons in life.

How to make decisions

To make decision-making easier and faster, there are some steps you can take.

1.) What are the pros and cons?
Write down the advantages and disadvantages to the different aspects of the decision you want to make. Be realistic though. Often with a pros and cons list we are “nicer” to the decision we want and “harder” on the decision we don’t want. If you know you are likely to do your list this way, find someone objective and impartial to discuss your decision and list with.

2.) Work out the cost
Money isn’t the only cost to consider when making a decision. How much will each option cost you in time, sacrificing other things you want to do such as quality time with family and how much will it cost financially.

My friend Miranda wrote a great article on opportunity cost here, using the example of how a $200 pair of sneakers actually costs $75,000.

3.) Set a time limit for when the decision needs to be made
The longer you leave a decision, the more likely you are to avoid making a decision. Set a time limit in which to decide, make a choice and stick to it.

4.) Research, but within reason
It is easy to do a little research on whatever it is you are trying to decide. Search online, check out forums and be very specific about what it is you need to make a decision on to ensure you get accurate information. Don’t make the mistake of spending too much time researching though.

5.) Go with your initial gut feelings
Your initial instinct about something is usually right. For example, a few years ago we bought a car I did not want. I didn’t want to take it for a test drive and I was walking away from it to have nothing to do with it again. Someone else was adamant it would be great, the test drive was ok but it ended up being a dud and cost us a small fortune. Had I listened to my gut instinct and walked away I would not have wasted so much time and money on that car.

6.) Discuss it with someone you trust
Discussing decisions you need to make with someone you trust and respect can be helpful. Be extremely careful though as they need to be someone who will not judge, will listen, be objective and impartial. Those people are usually hard to find as most of our friends want to make us happy and not all decisions make us happy.

7.) Flip a coin
Shake a magic 8 ball or do any other game of chance thing to help make the decision. The reason behind this method is you make one choice heads, the other tails. When you flip the coin in the air, in a flash you generally hope for either heads or tails. The one you hope for is probably the decision you should go with.

Ultimately the decision is yours. You need to trust yourself and realise that even if the decision you end up making is not perfect, you will still learn something from it. Plus you will never know if you don’t take the chance, make the decision and go for it.

Remember, once you make the decision, do it with your whole body/mind. Not just half heartedly. You made the decision and it will only work best if you put your whole self to it!

How do you make decisions?


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