Why You Should Be More Decisive

by Stephen Mills on April 8, 2010

Confused

Technology should be making our lives easier, but life doesn’t seem easier.  I think that is because we unnecessarily complicate it.

I’ve been observing a ridiculous amount of self-inflicted over complication around me lately.  The solutions to this are generally simple.  I’m a big fan of simple.

One of the best overall ways to simplify your life and make it less complicated is to be much more decisive.  I read once that being decisive meant making decisions with speed and clarity.  I like that definition.

Decisiveness Died With Technology

I’m absolutely convinced that people are much less decisive than they used to be.  One of the culprits is our connected world.  It seems some people can’t decided to go to the bathroom anymore without calling or texting someone on their cell phone to discuss it first and make sure it is a good idea.

Teenagers used to have to be responsible (at least to some degree) and make some decisions for themselves.  Now they have to call mommy on their cell phone and get permission or advice for everything.  Employees who used to be responsible for decisions, now have to run it by their boss or their colleagues.  They have to do this 24 hours a day via technology like email or cell phones, even when they or their boss is on vacation.  Couples who used to make independent decisions now email, text, or call each other to discuss trivial decisions.  Don’t say it isn’t so because I can hear it going on around me all the time.  We are all talking to everyone about everything.  Individual decision making and decisiveness have taken a big hit.

Information is Killing Our Decisions

There is so much information available today that people feel like they have to consider it without realizing that it is usually not helping them.  All this information overload creates analysis paralysis.  When you spend too much time analyzing a decision, you are usually less satisfied with whatever decision you end up making.  People who consider more factors when making decisions are more likely to worry later that they didn’t make the right decisions.  So they agonize during the decision making process and then worry even after they’ve made a decision.

The overwhelming number of decisions people agonize over in small or large ways, are not that big of a deal.  We are massively overcomplicating our lives with all this nonsense.

I heard a couple discussing a Disney World trip in B&N the other day.  They had some travel guide to Disney World and they were trying to decide which Disney resort to stay in.  They were looking at a grid with all the options of all the different resorts and discussing the pros and cons.  I stuck around to see how long it would take, but they went on and on about it forever so I finally gave up and left.  I wanted to shoot myself.

Is the resort on the transportation system?  Check.  Do the rooms have beds and bathrooms? Check.  Does it have a swimming pool? Check.  Is it in our budget? Check.  That’s all you need to know.  How much of their life together are they wasting with all the unnecessary decision making discussions?  One of them could have decided the hotel in a couple of minutes.  While they are chasing all over the Disney World parks, they are going to find out all their kids want to do is go back to the hotel and play in the pool.  And in the end the kids mostly want water.  The fact that the pool is shaped like Donald Duck isn’t on their minds.

A Decisive Person

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.

Tomorrow I’ll make some suggestions for becoming a more decisive person.

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Positively Present April 8, 2010 at 10:46 am

Great post, Stephen! I really agree that we need to be decisive and, for many reasons, this is becoming harder to do. I consider myself a pretty decisive individual and I think, more often than not, it works to my benefit. There’s a lot that can be learned from this post of yours!
.-= Positively Present´s last blog ..5 benefits of awesome things (& an awesome giveaway!) =-.

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Stephen Mills April 11, 2010 at 8:31 am

Hello Dani, thank you! People are afraid to make a mistake, to not be perfect and that makes it difficult for them to pull the trigger.

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Tracy Todd April 9, 2010 at 7:18 am

I’ve learned that the quicker I make a decision the quicker I can make peace with it and move on. Every decision has pros and cons. Decisions (right or wrong) have the potential to provide the privilege of experience – to learn and grow as a human being. I’ve learned from personal experience that the worst “headspace” to be in is one of indecision. Indecision wastes positive energy and can be destructive and self consuming. Decide NOW!
.-= Tracy Todd´s last blog ..How Do I Walk? =-.

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Stephen Mills April 11, 2010 at 8:32 am

Hi Tracy, yes “Decide NOW!”. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

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Mike Dooley April 9, 2010 at 7:47 am

Stephen, I think you are spot on with this one. Have you read The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schultz? He has a lot of similar ideas in terms of how an overload of choice makes us less able to make decisions/be happy with the decisions we make. As we are given more choices, we become less satisfied with our current situation. One of his solutions is to get into a mindset of making a choice and sticking to it, whether or not there might be other options out there.

As for your post, I definately agree and I’m interested in seeing your suggestions on becoming more decisive. I think that being decisive across the board is easier said than done, though. Maybe choose certain areas of your life to be decisive about first, then steadily expand as you become comfortable with that state of mind. What do you think?

MikeDooley
.-= Mike Dooley´s last blog ..The Sentence =-.

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Stephen Mills April 11, 2010 at 8:35 am

Hello Mike, a long time ago I read part of the Paradox of Choice and really liked it, but for some reason got distracted and never got back to it. I need to read it all the way through. Thanks for the reminder.

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Dena April 9, 2010 at 11:30 am

Hey Stephen,

Great post! I just want to let you know that I featured it in my weekly Friday Carousel of links here: http://evolutionyou.net/blog/carousel-040910/. I think that my readers will really enjoy this.

Have a great weekend!

In love & light,
Dena
.-= Dena´s last blog ..Carousel — 04.09.10 =-.

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Stephen Mills April 11, 2010 at 8:40 am

Hello Dena, thank you so much. I’ll definitely check out your blog and post. Have a great weekend 🙂

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Fatibony April 9, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Awesome post Stephen, it’s interesting cuz our ability to make decisions is so one powerful and can obviously can enhance or debilitate our life. I generally don’t spend too much time beating around the bush, but then every situation is unique and some may require more thought put to it than others. 🙂
.-= Fatibony´s last blog ..Are Your Personal Beliefs and Values Still Serving You? =-.

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Stephen Mills April 11, 2010 at 8:56 am

Hi Fatibony. You are correct that every situation is unique and decision making is an art if you do it really well. However, I think it is better to err on the side of making quick deicions rather than pondering too long. Thanks for commenting.

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Kenji Crosland April 9, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Spot on Stephen. On the whole, I’ve found that I’ve always been happy with my snap decisions than those I’ve deliberated over. The major problem with too much deliberation is that one gives to much thought about the disadvantages of making a choice rather than the advantages.
.-= Kenji Crosland´s last blog ..The Greatest Lesson I Chose Not To Learn =-.

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Stephen Mills April 11, 2010 at 8:43 am

Hi there Kenji. I like the insight in your comment about deliberation over disadvantages. Too much thinking about decisions does make one miserable.

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Mike April 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Kenji,

This is it in a nutshell – at the very crux of decision making is the fact that we might screw up! Also of note, if we have two compelling options and BOTH look about equally good, we’ll often feel more anxiety over the lost decision than good about the benefits of the decision we did make.

I think there is a Devo song about this dilemma called “Freedom of Choice”
.-= Mike´s last blog ..New Workplace Trends: 9 to 5 is So Last Decade! =-.

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timethief April 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm

In these times retaining that focus and using the correct decision making models is challenging. You have hit the nail on the head. Information overload can confuse and confound us. Add to that the unrelated projections and preconceptions created by “clever” advertising and we can feel paralyzed with indecision.

This is what I do before making any major decision. I research first , write down all options and evaluate the pros and cons of each. Then I compare and contrast the alternatives in light of my short and long-term goals. I assess which option or options appear to be the ones that are most likely to assist me in achieving my goals. Lastly I select one option and I commit to it. However, if it proves that my choice has not been a good one along the way then I reevaluate and make another selection.
.-= timethief´s last blog ..The 9 Timeless Secrets to be Happy =-.

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Stephen Mills April 11, 2010 at 8:59 am

Hello timethief. “Then I compare and contrast the alternatives in light of my short and long-term goals.” That is an excellent suggestion. Making sure your actions and choices align with your values and goals is a principle that can lead to better decisions. The key is not to do this with every decision, only the important ones. The rest don’t really matter.

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Sandra Hendricks April 10, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I think that indecision contributes to our problems in a huge way. We can look at this from a couple of different views. One, in the Paradox of Choice, we discover that having too many options, is a drawback. However, feeling as if we have NO choice, is a larger problem. When we feel this way, creating a list of options (brainstorming possibilities) is what helps us. Ultimately, it is our own thinking that stands in our way.

Why do we have such difficulty making up our minds, and why are we reluctant to take action toward what we want? During a process of elimination, we use a line of reasoning that I call “I do, but I don’t thinking”. While attempting logic, we use this thinking procedure automatically – we use it while trying to make choices and to avoid making decisions. We can witness, “I do, but I don’t thinking” frequently throughout our day, if we are watchful. Have you ever caught yourself following this train of thought?

A dress hanging in the store window catches, your eye and you think, I want that dress, but I don’t need it, my closet is full of dresses that I never wear. You’re in Best Buy watching football on a big screen television and you think, I sure would like to have that in my living room, but I don’t want to pay that much money. Your odometer just hit 175,000 miles and you think, I need a new car, but I don’t want the payments. You’re watching T.V., a Dairy Queen commercial comes on, and you think, I want some ice cream, but I don’t feel like going uptown.

This reasoning can cause procrastination – when we are unable to make up our minds, we hesitate to take action. In addition, the odds-on making a poor choice is enormous when we are thinking, “I do, but I don’t”. Indifference, brought about by this kind of thinking, can cause us to dismiss what we want, and deny what we need – “I need a new car, but I don’t want the payments.”

“Opposing thoughts confuse the issue, and adversity is the outcome.”
.-= Sandra Hendricks´s last blog ..Think Positive – Your Body Language Follows =-.

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Stephen Mills April 11, 2010 at 9:14 am

Hello Sandra, thank you for such a thoughtful comment. Now that you mention it I do but I don’t quite frequently 🙂

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Sharmon Davidson April 13, 2010 at 7:18 am

Thank you for this. I follow your site, and agree with you 90% of the time. I have a hard time making decisions, then I procrastinate and then- oops! -it’s too late! I’m definitely going to work on this. Now all I need is a full time secretary!

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Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com April 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

Sometimes it pays to be simple. If I’ve been indecisive for more than 5 minutes about a decision I’ll just flip a coin on it and deal with the consequences. It beats going through every possible option for hours on end.
.-= Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com´s last blog ..Tabata Intervals : Day 30 (Post Mortem) =-.

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Nea | Self Improvement Saga April 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Interesting article. I think decisiveness is a wonderful trait that some lucky people embody naturally. For the rest of us, it isn’t all that easy. And I do agree that technology can add fuel to the fire of indecisiveness. With easy access to tons of information, those who want to sift through it all will find it hard to pass up the countless opportunities to ponder.
.-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..How to Take Your Power Back and Kiss the Victim Mentality Goodbye =-.

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