Decision-making is a critical skill that virtually all of us could use a little bit of improvement on.
Whether it’s in business, family, or strictly personal matters, we’re constantly faced with choices and moments in life that demand our attention… and a decision. And, in that moment, several factors come into play and hinder our ability to make a wise decision.
Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.
– Keri Russell
However, the way most of us live we actually end up inhibiting our decision-making ability. Not to mention that many of us don’t realize the treasure trove of resources we have at our disposal with which to help make better decisions.
Here are some of my own personal tips for improving this critical skill:
1. Pull from the experts
A decade ago, this would have meant something else entirely. Now, we have access to the wisdom and knowledge of the experts of our space (virtually no matter what that space is) with just a few clicks.
There is a more direct way to pull information from those who are experts on the topic at hand which is more specific to the decision that needs to be made, such as discussing the issue with your team or mentor. And these assets should be utilized fully – and frequently.
However, when this either isn’t an option or doesn’t work, taking the time to consume books and other media on a topic from the experts in the space is infinitely valuable. Even better if you’ve been doing this for some time already.
2. Have ways to gain clarity
When it comes to making big decisions, it’s critical that you develop a process that works for you which helps clear your mind of the usual clutter that overwhelms you so that you can put yourself into a more creative state of mind.
Examples of this can be several things, but they all involve you knowing when and how to step away before (or while) making a big decision:
- Have some fun doing something you enjoy for the sake of enjoyment and nothing else
- Read a fiction book
- Go for a walk in nature
Also, this doesn’t just help with making larger scale decisions. As I mentioned earlier, we need to learn how to take care of ourselves better and knowing how to clear our mind of the stresses of the day to open up our creative pathways is an invaluable skill in business and life.
3. Sleep on it
Want to know one of the easiest ways to improve your decision making? Go to sleep.
The way your subconscious mind works, all you need to do is place an idea into it and it will begin doing its thing. Imagine the idea rolling around in a big box as you rotate it forward and back, left and right. As it rolls around it hits different areas of your mind, tapping into the knowledge and creativity that lies dormant.
When we take an idea with us to sleep, this subconscious process does its magic. But it’s anything but magic. Remember that part earlier about our mind being too busy to think clearly? Your subconscious doesn’t have that problem.
It will mull around the ideas most prominently placed into it at the moment right before you go to sleep, so if you learn how to make use of this and focus on an idea right before going to bed, you’ll often wake up having gained the answer you need, or at least clarity that gets you closer.
4. Disconnect from past results and mistakes
Experience is infinitely useful, but sometimes, it can hold us back. Particularly when our experience of something was negative.
Past results and mistakes can hold us back because we become afraid of experiencing the same pain over again. At work, you’re afraid of being reprimanded or losing your job because you already made the mistake of investing too much in that department or creating something in that style before and it didn’t work. In our relationships, we placed our faith in someone before and they let us down, so we avoid similar situations because we’re afraid of feeling that same pain again.
However, by practicing letting go of these experiences just enough to look at the situation clearly with a more rational state of mind, you can immediately improve your decision making ability immensely.
5. Slow down to gain a better perspective and improve your ability to react
Sometimes, we’re just moving way too fast to make smart decisions. This happens both in our professional and personal life.
If you’re tired of your job and have been working towards building a business on the side, you might have the tendency to move faster than you have the ability to manage because you’re increasingly more fed up and desperate to get out of your current situation.
If you’re falling for someone hard, you’re likely to move so quickly that you can barely think clearly at all, let alone make smart decisions that take into consideration your professional and personal future.
And if you’re relentlessly growing your business or working yourself to death at your job, the pressure to get ahead and make progress can be so strong and the pace so fast that your entire team’s decision making ability is inhibited (often without you even noticing it).
Sometimes, faster isn’t better. Sometimes, faster isn’t more productive. It will be up to you to identify when this is happening, but if you notice that is what’s going in, it’s probably smart to slow down to a more sustainable pace that allows you to maximize your decision making ability. This will help you make faster progress than running around like a headless chicken.
Decision-making is a critical skill that applies to virtually everything we do in life. From our business or professional life to our health and relationships, taking the time to improve your decision-making ability has far-reaching benefits that are well worth the time and effort.