Have you ever had to make a decision so monumental that you were nearly paralyzed with fear? It could be buying a house, having another child, changing jobs or even deciding to get out of debt.
If yes, don’t feel bad. You are definitely not alone. Making those tough calls, especially when you know that whatever you decide affects others around you, is never easy.
So how do you make those hard choices? Start with these five elements of good decision making.
1. Set a Deadline
Come on. You know you’ve done it. You put off making that tough decision by simply justifying your procrastination. I can’t decide until my office is clean. Who can think in a dirty office? Combat the “put-off” syndrome by giving yourself a deadline and placing it on your calendar. It will force you to deal with whatever is happening.
Combat the “put-off” syndrome by giving yourself a deadline and placing it on your calendar.
2. Take Your Time
This may seem odd since we just told you not to procrastinate, but part of making good choices is taking your time on monumental decisions. How do you know if the decision is big? Measure it by:
- The amount of money involved
- The amount of time involved as the result of the decision
- The number of people involved
The more of the above, the more you should reflect on your decision. What about the small choices? Those decisions should be almost instantaneous. Don’t waste time on the inconsequential.
Part of making good choices is taking your time on monumental decisions.
3. Gather Options
By giving yourself a number of options, you aren’t forced into a corner. Options take away a lot of the fear of making the wrong choices. If something doesn’t work, plan B is always available.
Options take away a lot of the fear of making the wrong choices.
4. Gather Information
The late British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.” And when it comes to decision making, we agree. The more information you have, the easier it is to recognize the best choice. Information removes fear.
The more information you have, the easier it is to recognize the best choice.
5. Write a Report
Remember the old movies where a girl is trying to decide if she’ll marry her sweetheart, and she lists his pros and cons on a piece of paper? Sure, it’s hokey, but it is also an excellent idea. When they’re really stuck, decision-makers write a report on the issue. Putting anything down on paper helps clarify the situation and makes you think on a different level.
When they’re really stuck, decision-makers write a report on the issue.
Part of making decisions, whether easy or tough, involves screwing up sometimes. That’s just life. Make the calls. Taking action sets you free. Passivity ends up qualifying you for the stressed-out-person-of-the-year award. Which do you choose?
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