7 steps to making a big decision
From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed there is one thing we simply can’t avoid: making decisions. From what you’re going to wear to work, to what time you’ll need to leave the office to pick up the kids, to weather or not you should floss. Decisions are everywhere.
If you’re like me, everyday decisions are routine — its just a part of life. But when it comes to making tough decisions like taking a risk, quitting a job, buying a new house, or asking that special guy to marry you….these decisions are often difficult, and require an entirely different set of decision making skills.
If only there was a system to help making big decisions more easy.
Ask no more, we’re here to help! Below we have detailed 7 steps to making a big decision.
7 step plan
1. What do you really want?
When making a big decision, the first place to really start is to ask yourself, “what do I really want?” Is it that you really do want a career change, or is it that your boss is a jerk and you can’t stand working with her anymore?
Having clarity on what exactly you’re after sets the ground work for actually making the decision.
2. Be mindful of how much information you actually need
When pressed with making a heavy decision, people often make the mistake of trying to ascertain as much information about the topic at hand as possible. In theory, this is a good step. But be careful: too much information can lead to paralysis. The brain is a finite resource, of course, and has a certain threshold. When assessing the information necessary to make your decision, ask yourself “do I trust this source? Do I value their opinion? And is this information really helpful?”
Let’s say, for example, you’re looking to buy a new camera. You’ve read and read, gone on line, talked with a variety of experts, but are still stuck. In this case, list the features you’ll actually use. Those cameras that have these features are the ones to look at. Any others, don’t make the cut.
3. You are your biggest critic
Decisions are highly personal affairs, and at the end of the day, there isn’t a “best” decision — simply the decision that is best for you. How you feel about your decision is usually far more important that the objective outcome of said decision.
4. Try not to rush
While this seems entirely obvious, taking time to make a decision often brings just the clarity we are seeking. If you find yourself paralyzed with a decision, force yourself to table the thoughts. Go for a run, meditate, don’t think about it until tomorrow. Its amazing how much easier a decision is when we don’t force ourselves to make one.
5. Be still, but still do something
Remember that taking a small step towards making a larger decision is in fact, a decision. If you are feeling afraid or hesitant, try breaking down the decision into smaller steps. This way, the task becomes less daunting and you can think in a more organized way.
6. Trust your gut
A lot of research has been done on the power of our intuition. Malcom Gladwell’s Blink comes immediately to mind. And while not conclusive, there is compelling evidence that suggests that when we are faced with a decision, our mind is naturally hardwired to make split second decisions better than longer, more thoughtful ones. So next time your gut tells you something, it probably is hundreds of thousands of years worth of our mind’s evolution telling you what to do. Pay attention
7. Do a postgame analysis
Of all the steps outlined here, we consider this the strongest. After each decision you make, ask yourself how you felt and what strategies you can employ next time you make a decision. Being self aware is one of your strongest assets when making a decision!
Remember that the vast majority of decisions you will make in your life are in fact reversible, meaning there is a safety net if you eventually change your mind. This is something that is really important to keep in mind, since oftentimes we over-analyze decisions and give them more attention than perhaps they truly deserve.