In in my previous article I explained Why You Should Be More Decisive. In this article I will give you my suggestions for just how to do that. They are:
- Make Fewer Decisions
- Identify a Single Owner for All Decisions
- Feel the Decision
- Create Decision-Making Guidelines
- Identify the Essential Factors
- Treat Most Decisions as Trivial Because They are Trivial
- Practice Near Instantaneous Decisions on Trivial Issues
- Use Your Unconscious Mind for Complex Decisions
- Set a Deadline for Important Decisions
Make Fewer Decisions
This almost feels like cheating, but let others make as many decisions as you possibly can. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate. There is something incredibly freeing about letting go of decisions. Mark Victor Hansen wrote:
I told my assistant, “Get me a cell phone.” She asked, “What type?” I said, “I really don’t care; you figure it out.”
Beautifully done. My wife hears “You decide”, “It’s up to you”, “Do whatever you want”, etc. all the time.
Identify a Single Owner for All Decisions
Avoid joint or group decisions whenever possible. There is no greater cause for indecisiveness than joint decisions. Even decisions most people think have to be made jointly don’t. Couples are notoriously invested in joint decision making about everything. This is our culture and many people have known no other way. I know many will disagree, but I promise you that if you somehow divide up decision making you will be better off. For really important decisions that involve another, one person can set a few basic requirements and let the other person make the decision as long as it satisfies those requirements.
Feel the Decision
Bright people who score well on IQ tests, but who have had brain damage that prevents them from feeling emotion, have a problem. They can’t make decisions. They are truly paralyzed by analysis and seem to never stop analyzing long enough to make a decision. Whether you admit it or not, you have to use your emotions to make decisions. So the best way to shorten the decision making process is to get to the feeling faster. Pull the trigger and go with your gut.
Create Decision-Making Guidelines
Creating guidelines for how you will make decisions is a great way to streamline the process. Have some rules in mind that you consistently follow. Maybe you are frugal so you can go with the least expensive choice that satisfies your requirements. Maybe you are a novelty seeker and so everything has to be different than the last time; a new experience. If you are indecisive you can choose the first option you see, you can flip a coin, you can go with your gut or whatever. If you are having a hard time deciding something because there is no obvious choice, then there is no obvious choice. Just pick one and decide to have no regrets.
Identify the Essential Factors
For decisions you deem more critical and that you want to spend more time analyzing, limit the number of factors to analyze to only the few that truly matter.
For example, when buying a car do I really need to consider the comparative value of all the bells and whistles? If I am going to buy a car, I’m going to assume they all have wheels that rotate forward and backward on demand and they have a steering wheel, a gas pedal, and a brake pedal that work. Aside from that all I truly care about is 1) reliability 2) comfort 3) sound system. I have all kinds of stuff on my loaded car, but as I drive it around I seldom use any of them. They really don’t matter. Comfort and reliability are what I care about and that is what I should base my decision on. The rest is noise that clutters the decision and creates post-decision second guessing.
Treat Most Decisions as Trivial Because They are Trivial
Identify up front the kinds of decisions that are of life-altering importance and then categorize everything else as trivial. This is where many people are going to have a problem. Almost everything is trivial to me and the older I get the bigger the trivial bucket gets. I’m sorry but those decisions you agonize over just don’t make any difference. The color you paint your house, whether you should let your child do x, where you go on vacation, etc.
When you analyze something to death you are being extremely arrogant. You are assuming that you can predict the future, that nothing will change to mess it up, and that you actually knew what you were doing in the first place. Sorry to burst your bubble, but none of that is true. Someday you are going to realize that micromanaging your child’s life drove them away and all that other stuff just didn’t amount to a hill of beans. You made yourself miserable trying to over decide yourself and your family to a perfect life.
Practice Near Instantaneous Decisions on Trivial Issues
Force yourself to just pull the trigger quickly on every decision you possibly can. Everyone will draw the line differently, but the more you can push over the trivial line, the more decisive and the happier you will be. Try to decide these trivial issues in seconds or a minute or two for the less trivial, but still trivial. Just pick the first thing that comes to mind or use an instant gut feeling. Practice the habit of not analyzing and whatever you do don’t consult someone else, even your partner. If you feel you must consult them, then just turn the decision over to them. Let them own it.
Use Your Unconscious Mind for Complex Decisions
For complex decisions with lots of important factors, feed your unconscious mind the data and than let it ponder the decision for a while. It’s very important you don’t consciously analyze or you will interfere with the more powerful parallel processor below. Think about something else and over a day or two you will start feeling the right answer.
Set a Deadline for Important Decisions
Finally, for important decisions when you are going to take more time, set a deadline for making it and stick to it.
I’ll repeat what I said in my previous article: A decisive person understands all this and takes charge making most decisions quickly and with clarity. A decisive person understands the difference between decisions that really make a difference and those that don’t. A decisive person has a lot more time for the important things in their lives and a lot more peace of mind.
What do YOU think? Leave a comment and join the conversation.
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