Whether it’s setting a course in your job or choosing the right dish on the menu: sometimes making a decision can be quick and spontaneous – and other times it can be very difficult. For the second case, we provide you here with 5 tips on how to make decisions easier in the future.
Why is it difficult to make decisions?
It’s not always a question of whether it’s mayonnaise or ketchup. Some decisions have a big impact on your life. An “Oh, that was nothing. I want my money back” after you invested in a bankrupt start-up doesn’t exist. It’s dealing with the fear of uncertainty that’s so difficult: What will the result really look like? The respect for the “wrong” decision and for regretting it is great for many.
Some scientists call the paralyzed state before a difficult decision “decidophobia” – the fear of the decision. Many people therefore flee into a passive and wait-and-see attitude, leaving the choice to the ominous “fate”. According to the motto: “What happens, happens.” This attitude is good when it affects things that you cannot change yourself. Serenity is right.
Actual decisions, however, which come with a choice – A or B, yes or no, make or leave – are better made consciously and according to a uniform method.
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What are the advantages of greater decision-making?
Look at it positively: If you have a choice, you have control – over yourself, your life, your desires. When you have made an important decision, you will feel better and live a happy life. Because indecision feels bad – for you and for everyone who has to wait for you. The more indecisive you are, the more uncertain you become. You will feel less and less confident. It is a vicious circle that leads to either not making any decisions at all or to becoming dependent on the decisions of others.
Until you end up losing the most important ability you have: trust in yourself.
Indecision is also a productivity killer. Just think: Every day you make hundreds, if not thousands, of micro-decisions: What you eat, whether you get up, when you answer your e-mails, whether you go to the gym today or tomorrow. Imagine if you collapsed before each of these decisions – your everyday life would collapse. When you make better and faster decisions, you take control of your life. Your daily productivity will go through the roof.
The best basis for a decision: being well informed, through research and discussions with people who may know better © Jakob Lund / Shutterstock.com
Which is better: Deciding from the head or from the gut?
Rational consideration or intuition? Scientists are still arguing about which is better. The researchers from the pro-belly camp say that humans can only consciously retrieve a small amount of information. In other words, they are juggling only a few aspects in the process of rational consideration. In contrast, the intuitive decision would have accumulated considerably more aspects. Therefore a gut decision is better.
The advocates of rational consideration see things differently: Those who rely on their intuition run the risk of being influenced by unimportant information. Moreover, those who do not have to make their decision quickly, i.e. those who have some time to spare, could eventually obtain more information. And weigh these rationally against each other.
Fortunately, there is a third point of view, which classifies gut feeling as an accumulation of experience in a particular field. For example, a policewoman who, in a supposedly critical situation, intuitively puts her drawn gun back in and thus prevents worse from happening. This is less sudden inspiration, say researchers. Rather, it is knowledge acquired based on years of experience in and for this field. It’s a kind of professional gut feeling.
To sum up: If you have enough time to make your decision, rely on a rational evaluation of pros and cons. If, on the other hand, you have to decide immediately, rely on your so-called gut feeling – provided the decision concerns an area in which you have already gained a great deal of experience. A very important tip for all situations: If you can, ask for advice, preferably from people who know their way around, who have more experience – and who judge independently.
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5 tips to make your decisions easier
The US -entrepreneur and author Mike Whitaker (“The Decision Makeover: An Intentional Approach To Living The Life You Want”, Greenleaf Book Group Press, about 20 Euro) provides you with a guide to decision making:
1. do I even have to make a decision?
They stand in front of the dental floss shelf in the drugstore and think “Which ones do I take?”, and they all cost the same amount. And then you go home and spend a lot of time researching the advantages and disadvantages of each brand. Not very useful, is it? So check: Is what I am doing here in proportion to the importance and the decision and its possible impact? Probably not. So, just take any one and go on. The next point takes a similar approach:
2. choose the satisfactory instead of the optimal solution!
Instead of an optimal solution, you decide on the satisfactory solution. What is the difference? When you choose the satisfactory solution, you decide as soon as your own criteria appear to be fulfilled. Example: You are looking for a hotel room in Barcelona for just one night, which is centrally located, not more than 90 euros and includes breakfast. As soon as you find an offer that meets these criteria, follow the approach of US -Sociologist Herbert Simon and book it.
Advantage: While the maximization-oriented person is still comparing and searching for the best possible solution, you have long since relaxed and packed your suitcase. As tempting as it is to discover the optimal package: Be satisfied with the satisfying solution.
When making serious decisions, it is best to draw up a plan beforehand to determine what goals you want to achieve. © Jakob Lund / Shutterstock.com
3. differentiate also the possible consequences!
Every decision has consequences, some small, some very big. Decisions with small consequences are like: What should I eat today? What should I wear? Which dental floss should I use? You floss several hundred times a day. However, their negative or positive effects often do not last even one day.
are decisions with medium consequences: Should I do a course in advanced training? Where do I study? For which roommate of my WG do I make up my mind? The consequences may affect your life, but they won’t decide this one. Successful people don’t dwell long on small and medium-sized decisions. In fact, they tend to play around with them and have fun, since the consequences are of little importance when viewed as a whole.
Big decisions like “buy a house or not?” are usually only made once or twice a year. So it’s worth thinking about and comparing. Compare it to what? That explains the next point.
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4. Always make a plan!
Define your main goals for career and partnership, what else you want to experience, where you want to travel. Then grade all goals according to importance from 1 to 5. yes, exactly: there is only one number 1! Make your decisions now so that they support your number 1 goal. You will of course have to make compromises regarding the other 4 goals. But: Either a new number 1 will crystallize or the compromises will decrease after some time and disappear completely.
Before making a decision, you can of course also simply ask your friends online for tips on how they would decide. © Jakob Lund / Shutterstock.com
5. do not regret bad decisions, learn from them!
We all make bad decisions now and then. Some have bad consequences, some less dramatic. But worst of all, they remain forever in regret over the decision. Better to reflect on the situation at the time. Analyze: Why did you make the decision this way and not another way? Which general conditions have had an influence on you? For example: Was I too emotional? Was I too proud? Was I drunk? Learn from this and next time make a decision that is appropriate for the situation.
Life is a sequence of forks and decisions. This means work and vigilance – but also the possibility to arrange your life the way you want it to be. You have the power! But don’t fall into absolute decision madness, sometimes it is also okay to simply choose something. Our 5 tips will help you to increase your decision-making power.