How do you usually make a decision? Do you act impulsively, or overcomplicate? Knowing our personal quirks and decision drivers can help control irrationality and impulsiveness, which can then lead to better decisions in tough situations.
Let’s take a look at nine strategies for making better decisions in crucial moments.
1. Weigh the consequences.
If you start at the end first, it can help simplify a decision. For instance, think about what you CAN and CANNOT live with. This can help eliminate options and keep things in an appropriate perspective.
2. Think first.
This one is for the impulsive decision makers out there. When you’re caught up in the momentum of something, try to take a deep breath. Give yourself a few seconds to re-evaluate the choice. Even better to sleep on it or at least give yourself some space to process the decision with a walk or some quiet time.
3. Do what’s right.
As they say, “You can do what’s right or you can do what’s easy.” The whistleblowers throughout history (think Erin Brockovich, or those at Enron or Bernie Madoff’s office) had to choose. While their lives became tough for a while, they could look at themselves in the mirror and sleep at night knowing they’d done the right thing. We all deserve the same peace of mind. Choose right over easy.
4. Listen to your intuition.
Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book Blink publicized what most of us already knew—sometimes that gut feeling is the right feeling, even if we don’t know why. If perfectly logical choices—to take a job, date someone, or purchase something—have our stomachs in knots, we need to examine that red flag. Many times what we can’t consciously explain can be the difference between a good choice and something we’ll regret.
5. Understand emotions.
Understanding our feelings and how they motivate our behaviors can be the key to changing personal patterns. We may be surprised by how much of what we do is based on irrational emotions. Think about that intelligent girlfriend you know who always dates the wrong men. (Or, perhaps it’s you. ;))
6. Feel the pressure.
Knowing what is driving the people around us can make a big difference in the way decisions are made, and the outcomes down the road. Are things being driven by pride, desire to advance, greed or power trips? Or, is there a truly sensible reason that the pressure is on? Knowing the answer can help you move forward or stand clear of unnecessary stress and drama.
7. Know your motive.
Deciding something to keep up with the Joneses, because it’s what our parents want, or to prove something to somebody, can be the right course of action, but only if we understand what we are doing. Looking at our personal motives behind a decision can help us evaluate if it is a good choice. If the answer to “Why am I doing this?” isn’t a motive we’d be proud of, it is time to re-evaluate that decision.
8. Decide not to decide.
When it comes right down to A or B, sometimes the right decision is—C. Simply say, “I don’t care for either at this time” or suggest a third option to alleviate the pressure and get a better outcome. One thing I’ve realized over time is that one opportunity follows another, so there will always be another one coming. It just may not be as big or perfect as the one you see now.
9. Flip a coin!
Yes, really. I’ve done this myself. When you get down to A or B and flip a coin, it does more than give you a choice. It shows you how happy you are with that choice. If you get the outcome and your heart sinks, then you get an instant read on what your gut thought of the decision. Works every time!
© 2012 Ali International, LLC
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