5 Steps to More Confident Decision-Making
How are your decision-making skills? Without a strategy, decision-making can be stressful.
What Is A Decision?
Some people contend, that in its simplest form, life is a series of choices. This is, in some sense, true. Except that it’s not that simple, because life itself is not that simple.
The complexity of life or, rather, living a life, means that the choices the average individual faces over the course of a lifetime are equally complex. These choices range from simple survival decisions (Should I eat that mushroom?), to difficult moral personal choices (Should I speak out against this injustice and incur increased personal risk?)
Obviously, the one thing that all these decisions have in common is the option of choosing action and outcome. However, because the nature of these various actions, and their potential outcomes, vary wildly, no one strategy can encompass the process of deciding between them This is where an understanding of what a decision is becomes important.
A decision is, of course, the action of deciding something. A person faced with a choice, makes a choice. The most basic example of this is the proverbial fork in the road. When facing a fork in the road, you have the choice of going left or going right. You stop for a period of time while you think, then you decide to go either left or right. Once the decision has been made you take the path you’ve chosen.
That’s straightforward and obvious, right? To some extent, the answer to that question is yes. To a greater extent, however, the answer is no. To become a more efficient and more focused decision maker, you need to understand all the processes that went into making the simple decision above.
- First, there was a problem. The path you were walking on divided into two.
- Second, there was the nature of the problem. Because the path divided, you were forced to go either left or right to reach your destination.
- Third, you needed to choose between these two options in order to continue.
- Fourth, you utilized your experience, knowledge and intuition to decide which option was best suited to your needs.
- Fifth, you actually made the decision.
- Finally, you, once again, began moving forward towards your destination based on that decision.
As you can see, the simplest of decisions entails a number of steps. In most cases, we handle these steps subconsciously, without really being aware of what it is we are doing. When the decision we are faced with is simple, this “autopilot” method of choosing isn’t a problem. However, when more complex decisions need to be made, not understanding the process can give rise to difficulties.
If you’re having trouble feeling confident in your actions and wish you had an unwavering self-belief in your decisions, maybe it’s time to look at your decision-making process. Decisions made impulsively or without careful thought might not always turn out the way you hope they will.
Of course, there’s something to be said for instinct and even dumb luck. But what if good decisions were inevitable rather than occasional? Imagine for a moment how it would feel to know you’re right before you even act.
5 Steps to Decision-Making
The following steps will raise your confidence, lower your stress levels, and improve your odds of success.
#1 Start With an Open Mind
Do you automatically have all the answers? Probably not. Some of your beliefs might be biased, faulty, or illogical. Accepting you might have things to learn is the first and most crucial step to making decisions. Take a step back from everything but the raw facts regarding what you’re trying to decide.
#2 Get the Facts
Do you have all the information you need to make an informed decision? Are there things you need to learn? What about examining the options? Have you considered multiple solutions? Take time to put the work in to gather what you need to proceed with confidence. Make a list of all the possible alternatives based on the current information.
Often, you won’t get all the facts you need for one reason or another. In this case, you will need to take a leap of faith and rely on your confidence when making decisions. That’s an unfortunate part of the process and one that makes people choose wrong directions sometimes. But, as long as you decide using the information you have available, you can defend your choice.
#3 Predict the Future
Once you have some choices in mind, try to imagine how they’re going to play out. Sometimes what looks good might be a great temporary solution, but you’re going to need to do something different in the long run. If you make a certain decision right now, ask yourself if this will still be a good decision in the morning? What about next week? Or next year?
Consider the pros and the cons of each option. To do this, take out a blank piece of paper and write a dividing line in the center. Create the heading “Pros” on the left, and “Cons” on the right. Then, list out the pros and the cons. You can use this to guide you with your decision. Try not to make this process too mechanical as the list may contain several subjective items.
Alternatively, create a scale of your choosing and rate each of the alternatives. This rating scale can help you when making the decision.
#4 Get Another Opinion
Do you have a mentor or someone you can trust whom you could talk to about this? While you might skip this step on the small stuff, it’s worth having someone you trust weigh in with their opinion whenever you make a big decision. They might see something you’re missing.
Sometimes the hardest part of making decisions lies in making the actual decision. It’s tempting to go back over the research a few more times or keep looking for other alternatives. At some point, you’re going to need to act. Take your best solution and move forward with it with confidence. You’ve done all the work. Now comes the part where you put this newfound trust in yourself into action.
How to Overcome Bad Decisions
There is nobody on earth who can lay claim to never making a bad decision. People make too many decisions for them not to make bad decisions once-in-a-while. Hopefully, those decisions have little impact. However, there will be occasions where you make some that have big consequences.
It’s going to happen.
You try to do everything in your power to avoid these bad decisions. Perhaps, the information you needed was not available at the time of decision-making. Or, someone gave you the wrong data, whether intentionally or not. It’s possible you made a rash decision without giving much thought to the consequences of the decision. Whatever the case, the result may turn into an unpleasant and stressful situation.
You need to face up to the consequences.
Take ownership of the decision-making process and don’t pass the blame. It’s possible you will have to deal with someone if they didn’t give you the right information or they deceived you in some manner. Their action may be the cause of the wrong decision, and you have to choose if you should let that person go as a result. However, if you were the one that was responsible for making the final decision, then the consequences of that decision rests with you.
Stay confident and don’t panic.
Learn about what happened and why. Then, try to find ways to reduce the impact of your decision-making process. If it is a business decision that costs your company some money, make sure you let your management know about it right away. Don’t try to ignore the problem thinking that management may not notice. They will be upset when a mistake costs the company money. But, they will be even more upset if you don’t make it known in a timely fashion.
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone who may be able to help with the situation.
It could be your boss or a mentor. They may be able to shed some insight into the situation. In fact, you could be blowing the situation out of proportion, and they will know how to get you out of it. But, they can only help if you give them timely information about it.
If the situation requires presenting your case to higher-level management, try to prepare alternatives on how to reverse the situation or reduce the impact. If these managers see that you have taken control of the situation, they may decide to let you run with the alternatives, although probably with a watchful eye of your manager.
In summary, the more you run through these processes, the more confident you’ll feel about your decision-making skills.