It’s no picnic dealing with the hundreds of decisions that must be made each day just to get by. From choosing whether to get up or hit ‘snooze’, to making professional and personal commitments with ambiguous long-term ramifications, making decisions is how we navigate our days – and it’s a particularly challenging part of existence when you’re having a hard time of things. We need to be able to nail the decision-making process.
Nail the decision making process
On the one hand, you may find that even the smallest decision seems to be of world-changing importance, and committing to one option or another feels like too weighty a responsibility to take. On the other, it’s easy to make a mess of decisions of any size by responding too quickly, too emotionally, or without taking an objective view of the issues involved.
Decision making strategy
In moments like this, it can be hugely beneficial to have a decision-making strategy in place. There are a number of great techniques you can try. For instance, try for a while to concentrate on the negatives rather than the positives. It’s all too easy to get hung up on the potential downfalls of your various options, but relying purely on these to guide you can be a mistake – because the negative emotions that they involve are disproportionately powerful compared to the positive possibilities. Slowing down to ask yourself about the positive aspects of a given decision can be a great way to see your options in a new light.
Likewise, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the latest information you’ve received on a given issue. When somebody hands you bad news about something you’re working on, your instinct is likely to be to allow it to over-weigh all proceeding considerations. Try giving yourself ten minutes – or even a day, or a week if the situation allows. Then make your decision. It can help you to put these new factors into perspective and make a more objective appraisal of the lay of the land.
Apply analytical techniques
You can spend this time applying distinct analytical techniques to your choice. (Okay, so here we’re more in the realm of big professional decisions rather than which tie to wear. But the principles are broadly transferable!). For example, applying the ‘Five Whys’ to an issue can help to reveal the underlying truth of the matter. With this technique, the idea is to ask ‘Why’ your issue exists. Then ask ‘Why’ that reason has come about. Keep on asking ‘why’ and settling only for objective, factual explanations until – you’ve guessed it – you’ve asked ‘Why?’ five times. By now, you should have a pretty deep understanding of what you’re dealing with – and be safe from making a snap, over-subjective decision.
Making the choice to slow down and consider your decision-making process may be the best decision you can make. While your gut instinct remains relevant and you should always listen to it. Interrogating that instinct and figuring out why you feel that way will help you to assess whether to trust your subjective feelings or to follow a more factually-informed path. This new visual guide to decision-making contains a range of techniques to help you do so; work through it today, and you’ll wake up tomorrow ready to take on the day’s trials just a little bit calmer and wiser.
About the Author
John Cole is a digital nomad and freelance writer. Specialising in leadership, digital media and personal growth, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move. He can most commonly be spotted in the UK, Norway, and the Balkans.