Decisions, decisions, decisions. It seems like every time we turn around, we have to make more decisions. Have you ever considered your decision-making style?
Are you a confident decision-maker or do you tend to put off decisions as long as possible? Do you painstakingly examine every option or pride yourself in making quick decisions? Are you a loner or prefer relying on the advice of others?
The ability to make consistently good decisions takes us far in life. People who are able to face challenges head-on gain invaluable skills from every type of situation. They learn how to handle problems more effectively, and are less likely to feel overwhelmed by unexpected changes in life.
Simply put, each decision you take shapes your future.
The good news is effective decision-making can be learned, and mastered over time, but it’s helpful to understand some of the more common mistakes to avoid.
Common Decision-Making Mistakes
Failure to Define the Decision
It can be tempting to focus on a single issue, failing to account for factors that will contribute to the consequences of a decision, particularly when it comes to life changes. For example, if you’ve been offered a great new job it would be tempting to focus on the position and make a decision based on the pay, perks and opportunity to advance your career and only later it sinks in that the job requires a move away from family and friends, selling your house and settling in a new, unfamiliar area, etc.
Define, as specifically as possible, what the decision is that needs to be made and the consequences of each option you are considering. Who will be affected by this decision? How does this decision affect your life priorities?
Waiting for Certainty
Some people, particularly those with perfectionist tendencies, have difficulty taking action until they have reached a point of certainty about the outcome. If unable to achieve this feeling of certainty, their minds go round and round in circles over analyzing the problem until they end up procrastinating or simply not taking action.
There are few things in life that come with a guarantee, and unless the problem you’re facing is one that is likely to solve itself, keep in mind that not taking action is also a form of decision-making. The best way to overcome this tendency is to set a time limit for making a decision. It will take discipline and practice, but as you begin to see results your decision-making skills will improve.
Making Knee-Jerk Decisions
Although such decisions are often quickly recognized as a mistake, it’s usually after the damage is done. This type of decision making is frequently associated with money and the need to just do whatever it takes to make the stress go away.
Keeping priorities in focus and taking the time to think through the consequences will help you to avoid decisions you’ll regret later.
Maintaining the Status Quo
Each of us is prone to making decisions that avoid risk and keep us firmly parked within our comfort zone; it’s an inherent part of our thinking. You don’t want to maintain the status quo unless it is genuinely the best choice. In this case, awareness is your best defense against making this mistake.
Keeping your objectives top of mind, examine if they would be served by maintaining the status quo, then identify other options and use them as a counterbalance in your decision-making process.
Waiting for Validation by other People
One of the biggest obstacles to personal growth and becoming an effective decision maker is the constant need for approval by others. This is often a self-esteem issue. The approval (and respect) you really need to find is within you.
The more decisions you make, the stronger and more confident you will become and the less you will need validation from others.
“Unsuccessful people make decisions based on their current situation; successful people make decisions based on where they want to be.” ~Author Unknown
Failure to Learn from the Past
Some people seem to suffer the same problems over and over. Instead of taking responsibility for the decisions they’ve made and learning from past experiences, they blame bad karma, fate, lack of support from family and friends, or any number of other reasons for their problems.
Again, this is often a self-esteem issue and the only way to effectively move forward is to accept one’s role in the process, identify what hasn’t worked in the past and why, and commit to making better choices in the future.
Beating Yourself Up for Making ‘Wrong’ Choices
There are no guarantees that every decision you make will always result in the perfect solution to a problem. Beating yourself up over making a wrong decision will only end up causing you to second guess future decisions and undermine your self-confidence.
Make a point of learning from the decisions you make. If it worked out well, celebrate but also consider whether or not there might be a way to experience even better results in the future. If a decision doesn’t work out, instead of beating yourself up over it learn from the experience and move on.
No one is perfect. If you knew you were about to make a wrong decision, would you go ahead with it? Of course not, but that should never prevent you from having the confidence to make future decisions.
Mastering decision-making and problem-solving skills is like building muscle; the more you do it, the stronger and more confident you will become.
Here’s to your success,
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