Make Decisions Like A Pro
Los Cabos, Mexico just happens to be a favorite spot for me and my husband. Several months ago, we booked the corner room that overlooks the water at a favorite hotel…again! Then recently we learned that there would be some major construction going on right outside our door during the time we’d be there. Not exactly the relaxing vacation we had in mind. We attempted to switch the timing in hopes of arriving after all the improvements were made, but were unable to because the work will be ongoing for the rest of the year. Ugh!
Rather than skip a week of fun in the sun, we decided to explore other options and discovered an overwhelming number of choices! So many choices we nearly gave up!
According to research, the average adult makes 35,000 decisions in the course of a day compared to a child who makes about 3,000 decisions in a day (Sahakian & Labuzetta, 2013). You might be surprised to learn that 226.7 of those decisions are food related decisions (Cornell University (Wansink and Sobal, 2007)! In her work as a decision researcher at Columbia University, Sheena Iyengar, suggests that the average American makes approximately 70 conscious decisions every day.
If you are a leader, I would argue you make more decisions than the average adult!
The bottom line…we make a whole lot of decisions! What if there was a way to be more intentional in your decision making process?
Do you ever find yourself getting caught up in analysis paralysis – overthinking a decision or avoiding making a decision? Believe it or not, that’s actually making a decision!
Putting off decisions or spending too much time on making a decision is an energy drainer. The more decisive you can be, the better…even if you don’t make the best decision.
So how can you not only speed up your ability to make decisions, but also make superior decisions?
Here are seven tricks to help you make decisions:
1. Develop Routines
Having a morning routine, an evening routine, even a decision making routine eliminates a whole lot of decisions every day, allowing you to invest your energy in more important decisions. It doesn’t mean you are locked into that routine forever. You can adjust your routine when needed. And you can speed up or slow down your routines depending on the amount of time you have each day. Then what’s involved in the flow of your routine is something you won’t have to contemplate daily.
What routines can you incorporate into your life that will free up energy for more critical decisions?
2. Eliminate Options
Another way to narrow down the number of decisions to be made in a day is to eliminate options. Rather than having to decide what to wear every day, settle on a “uniform” like Steve Job’s black turtle neck or Mark Zuckerberg’s gray t-shirt. Keep things simple.
What other choices can you eliminate? How can you simplify what you eat for breakfast or lunch, when you respond to emails, or how often you choose to look at your phone?
3. Expand Your Options
Adding more options seems counter-intuitive, but typically when making a decision you are deciding between two options like writing a book or not writing a book. There may be other creative options you have not even considered such as making a video, collaborating on a book, hiring a writing coach, or what else you might use your time for to accomplish what writing a book would do for you.
How can you intentionally expand your options?
4. View In Light Of Your Values
Evaluating the pros and cons of a decision is nothing new. However, have you ever tried considering your options in light of your values? Decisions that honor your values are likely to be excellent choices!
How well do the various options available align with your values? What adjustments would make the options line up with your values?
5. Set A Time Limit
The majority of the time, agonizing over a decision doesn’t lead you to superior decisions. Now, clearly it depends on the significance of the decision you face, but limiting your decision to a set amount of time: 5 minutes, 20 minutes, or 1 hour, forces you to go with your gut. The more you go with your gut the more you learn to trust your gut. No matter how you go about making decisions, you might not make the best decision every time, but you can learn from every decision you make.
How much time will you allow yourself to make a decision? (I know – that’s a decision!)
6. Utilize A Structure
There are several structures you can choose from depending on the decision you have to make.
Option #1: Test out the “If/Then” structure. If I buy the red SUV, then…. If I buy the blue truck, then…. This is a good way to unearth beliefs that you didn’t even know you had.
Option #2: SCORE! This structure combines #4 (View In Light Of Your Values) and a scoring system. For each of your top five values, rate the options using this scoring method: 1 = minimally lends to my values and 7 = maximizes my values. It’s critical that your decisions be in alignment with your values.
Option #3: Explore your options by applying HBDI thinking preferences to your options. You might use one of these templates to flesh out your options. This will help you branch out and explore areas that you don’t normally consider because of your thinking preferences.
Option #4: RIGHT! No one likes pain! In an attempt to avoid pain, we evaluate decisions by what could go wrong. What if you considered your options in light of all that could go RIGHT? Not perfect, but right!
Option #5: Hats – consider your decision from a variety of perspectives as you figuratively put on these six hats:
1) The White Hat represents information – What information do you already have? What information do you need to gather?
2) The Black Hat represents everything that could go wrong – Explore the options from a pessimistic angle. What are the weaknesses, potential problems, etc.
3) The Red Hat represents intuition, your gut – how you really feel – What are your emotions telling you to do? What do you feel like you should do? What will others think?
4) The Green Hat represents creativity – What are the creative solutions/options you’ve not yet uncovered? Brainstorm those possibilities.
5) The Yellow Hat represents positivity – Explore the options from an optimistic angel. What are all the benefits of this option; the value? Identify the opportunities that might arise out of this option.
6) The Blue Hat represents quality control – This is the final hat. Did you give suitable attention to the other five hats? Sum up everything you’ve discovered while wearing the other five hats. Then make your decision.
7. Seek God’s Wisdom
Prayerfully considering your critical options is always a smart choice! If He has a leaning, He will make that clear. If He doesn’t make it clear, odds are that any of your options will do!
In the end, my husband and I set a time limit, narrowed the choices down based on our criteria and values, and took a leap of faith booking our time in Cabo at a property we’ve never been to before. It’s a risk for sure, but I know the time away will do us well, and it will be free of the construction distraction!
There really are no “perfect” decisions – just “good enough” decisions. When you know what you want and then set out to make the most of your decision, you really can’t lose!
And the tricks I’ve shared aren’t just for you – use them as a team too!
What keeps you from making decisions?
My 24-year-old daughter is of a personality that struggles with making decisions, even small ones, and she is currently at a crossroads where she has to make a few biggies. I was thrilled to see your post that spells out a wise and practical methodology for making decisions. I forwarded it on to her, sure she will find it helpful. Thanks for your insights!
It is true that some personalities struggle with making decisions more than others (typically S & C personalities for different reasons). I trust she finds a method that allows her to quickly and easily sort through her options April.