Monday, September 22, 2014

7 Ways to Become more Decisive

Not everyone is born decisive, able to make choices in life with little input of information or opinions from others.  Some...
  • agonize over the details
  • lose sleep over the potential impact of each alternative
  • get caught up in the analysis of the issues
and... lose time and energy to the process.  As a result, decisions get put off.  Sometimes this is a good thing while at other times it comes with a cost.

It's a fact that some habits come more easily to some of us than others.  We may find ourselves struggling to do something that seems to come naturally for others.  (those of you that can virtuously look at anything chocolate and say NO for instance!) However, there are ways and means for the rest of us to improve upon our more natural inclinations.  When it comes to Decisions, try using the following ideas to help you become more decisive in your life.
  1. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.  We all have a limited amount of willpower each day.  Drawing upon yours for things that don't matter depletes it.  Over the course of the day, it can serve to exhaust your reservoirs, leaving you short for the bigger decisions that are sure to follow. Save your energy and focus on the bigger issues, reserving your mental resources for those. When we allow ourselves to get  distracted by the little things we tend to lose sight of what is truly important to us and then get completely immobilized by anything bigger that hits our plate. Learning to let the smaller stuff go leaves you better prepared to face those larger issues more quickly and decisively.
  2. Will this Matter a Year from Now?  Let's face it, it is going to be far easier to say don't sweat the small stuff than it is to actually let go of things.  To help you determine 'what' to let go of sooner ask yourself... Will this matter a year from now?  If it won't, let it go.  If it isn't something that is going to have a long-term impact on your life, then it isn't a decision that should be taking up a lot of your brain space.
  3. Know Your Values.  Be clear about what is important to you.  Decisions are easier to make when you have something to measure them against.  If you are clear about your values then you can evaluate your decisions by determining which choice best supports your values and choose it.  As Roy Disney once said... "When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier".
  4. Use your Back Burner.  Not all of our decisions require our full attention NOW!  Shift some of your decisions to your back burner, allowing your unconscious mind to begin putting together facts and data, forming your decision for you.  Not every decision is urgent and requires an immediate response.  When it is not critical that you decide right away, allow your back burner to work for you while you focus on those issues simmering away on the front burner of your brain.   
  5. Give your Gut some Credit.  Sometimes, when faced with indecision, you should just go with your gut.  Your unconscious mind speaks to you through your gut.  You may not know why you are feeling what you are but if it is a strong feeling, and you need to make a decision now, go with your gut and figure it out later.  Our unconscious mind often knows things before our conscious mind is able to make sense of it.  If you must make a decision before the conscious brain has figured things out - go with your gut.
  6. Use a Decision Matrix.  You can use a structured approach to some of your decisions, though I suggest pulling out the matrix for the big ones you face, not when trying to decide what you want for breakfast!  For this you evaluate your decision choices against key criteria you have pre-established.  The criteria should include anything that is important to you, but likely is a list containing all your top values, major goals, family, physical, spiritual, emotional impacts, etc. Assign a value from 1-10 for each criteria, for each decision option, indicating how well each option meets/fulfills that criteria, 1 being not at all and 10 being fully.  Add up the scores, for each decision option, across all the criteria you established.  Highest score typically indicates your best option.
  7. Flip a coin. Yes, some people make their decisions this way, allowing fate to decide for them. This is not what I am suggesting however.  To gain insight from the coin toss proceed as you would normally, assigning each option to either head or tails and then toss the coin in the air.  Pay attention to what you are hoping the outcome will be, before the coin lands.  Typically our thoughts, while the coin is in the air, will reveal to us what our preferred decision is.  

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