12 Tips to Become More Decisive

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Getting caught up in the “what ifs” of potential choices can leave us feeling paralyzed at life’s crossroads.

By Amelia Buckley for The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News

Do you find yourself getting hung up on even simple decisions? Getting caught up in the “what ifs” of potential choices can leave us feeling paralyzed at life’s crossroads. However, just like any other skill, practice and focus can help us become better decision makers. Here are 12 strategies for making confident choices and becoming more decisive. 

  1. Evaluate the impact of the decision. Think about the long term implications the decision holds for your happiness and wellness. Will the outcome of this decision matter in a month? In a year? Once you root out the true impact of a decision, you can decide how much energy you should put towards making it. 
  2. Conduct the “only option” test. Ask yourself what the outcome would be if one of your choices was the only option. If you’re choosing between two car brands, would you be satisfied if one of them was the only choice? This can help you decipher how you truly feel about each option in a given situation. 
  3. What are the comparative outcomes? What will be the result of each choice in the near and distant future? Would you be satisfied with that outcome? Thinking about how decisions affect us in the long run is often the most difficult part of decision making, but it helps us visualize the results of our choices. 
  4. Gather more information. If you’re having a tough time with a decision, maybe that’s because you don’t know enough to make an informed one. Seek out additional resources to clarify your choice. This can be the opinion of an informed expert, the advice of a trusted friend, or even, in our car example, just more research on specifics. 
  5. Determine if both options could coexist. Maybe you don’t have to choose between two options in a given situation. If there is not one clear route forward, think outside the box and get creative!
  6. Take note of your biases. Our biases, both conscious and unconscious, are rooted in our decision making. Be aware of these and their impact on your choices. This also means recognizing when your comfort zone is holding you back from the best outcome. 
  7. Notice repeat decisions. Does a certain choice keep popping up in your life? If you’re constantly re-evaluating the same situation, it may be time to take a new course of action. 
  8. Trust your gut. Our instincts are informed by years of learning and observing our place in the world. If you feel in your gut that one choice is right, trust yourself and your instincts. 
  9. Clarify your values. Reflecting on what and who truly matters to us is a great way to become more decisive because it gives us a clearer picture of what we want. When faced with a decision, think about how each choice connects with your broader goals. 
  10. Practice advanced planning. Decision making suddenly becomes so much harder when we’re put in a time crunch. Think ahead and plan in advance so you can anticipate tough decisions and reflect on your choices before the moment of action arrives. 
  11. Set a deadline. In the same way that a time crunch can stress our decision making abilities, endlessly mulling over options can leave us feeling more confused and conflicted than when we started. Set a reasonable deadline for your decision which allows you to take the time you need to reflect and research, but doesn’t leave you constantly rethinking and doubting your options. 
  12. Don’t sweat regret. We’ve all made decisions we later come to regret. Whether it’s in relationships, the workplace, or even just in what we want to order for lunch, regrets are a part of life. It’s important not to let these regrets get in the way of forward progress. Take what you’ve learned from that experience and use it to continue to make more informed and confident decisions in the future.

By Amelia Buckley for The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News

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