Do you find yourself unable to make up your mind about simple things?
Does it take you forever to choose a restaurant when you’re going out to eat or what to pick from the menu?
Like anything else, your process of making decisions can be perfected, or improved, with practice.
Let’s discuss the top 6 ways to become a better decision maker.
Get an Outside Perspective
When it comes to being a good decision maker, you must be able to look at a situation from multiple angles. Mistakes discovered in hindsight are never that clear while making the decision.
In Think Twice, written by Michael Mauboussin, on harnessing the power of counterintuition, he talks a lot about the power of decision making. He discusses the truth that the majority of decisions are not given the correct thought and often have negative outputs.
Michael’s Mauboussin says, in summary, that we tend to have an inside view of a situation instead of an outside view. Most people like to use the facts at hand rather than expanding their viewpoint to see how it could affect those around them.
Having an outside view requires finding situations that are comparable and researching their end results. It is not a natural way of thinking. It requires the decision maker to set aside all preconceived notions and emotions.
Generally, making poor decisions come down to ego. They are based on pure bias, not confusion.
When one has set aside all bias, they can truly analyze a decision from the outside. Looking at it from a third-person perspective gives you the opportunity to engage wise reasoning.
Writing Down the Consequences
Once you’re ready to look at a situation from the outside-in, it’s time to begin writing down all possible consequences of that decision. This includes positive and negative consequences.
Thinking about all of the ways the situation could unfold helps you to see from other perspectives. Who will your decisions impact? Is it just you?
Your decisions most always affect others around you. How will it affect them?
If it has a positive impact on them, then you’re closer to choosing the best decision. Or does it have a negative impact?
Will you take into account what your decision will affect a year from now? Allow yourself to see beyond your four walls and determine who and what it will impact.
Looking at the big picture, not just today or tomorrow, but one year or two years from now is what a good decision maker would do.
Figuring Out Alternative Options
Writing down alternative options to your decision is another way you can look from the outside-in. These options should be realistic and creative.
They may take a lot of brainstorming and effort to come up with. Having several choices will help improve your decision-making process. By applying the above ideas of analyzing from the outside-in and writing down the consequences, you will be able to determine which choice is best.
What information do you not know about the decision you will make? Is there an unknown that is keeping you from moving forward?
Think about the things that are unknown and write down all the possibilities of what could happen in that space. We almost always know a lot about our decisions and can be so distracted by what we know, that we do not take into account what we don’t know.
Consider Your Decision Maker Environment
Your environment could actually impact your decision making. What does the lighting look like the room you’re in?
A recent study shows that light can have an impact on your emotions, and thus, your decisions. The more intense the light, the more intense emotions a person feels.
This light could be artificial or natural light. They both affect the mood. The study reports that those who are experiencing a sunny day are happier and helpful to others. Gloomier days can make tired, sad and negative emotions come forth.
Find a room that is neutral to be your decision maker room. Rationale will be higher in rooms with less intense light. The same is true for sounds and smells.
Loud noises and harsh smells can be distracting when trying to choose what’s ahead of you. Keep the room environment as calm as it can be.
Setting Your Emotions Aside
What is your emotional intelligence? It’s the ability to recognize and take control of your emotions. The higher your emotional intelligence, the less it will affect your decisions.
When it comes to being a good decision maker, you must be able to set aside all and any emotions and stick to rational reasoning. If you have a low emotional intelligence, it may be difficult to make decisions when you’re experiencing stress or anxiety in your work life or home life.
Emotional intelligence can also help you filter out excitement or inspiration, things that will affect your decision maker skills.
How Can I Cultivate Emotional Intelligence?
Meditation is a key way to cultivating emotional intelligence. Meditating allows you to focus in on yourself and bring self-awareness. It develops an innate ability to keep your mind clear, whenever you want.
Mindfulness can help improve your decision-making process in your work life, home life, wellness and every area of your life.
Pause Before Making a Decision
Decisions are often made it haste. My mother always told me that if you’re thinking about a big purchase or making a big decision, to sleep on it and when you wake up in the morning, you’ll have more clarity.
This concept is true, according to Jack Grinband, a Ph.D. associate research scientist at the Taub Institute. He states “Postponing the onset of the decision process by as little as 50 to 100 milliseconds enables the brain to focus attention on the most relevant information and block out irrelevant distractors.”
Simply put, pause before any decision you make. Your brain will offer clarity on that decision if you allow it to focus.
Can I Really Change?
You can change your habits to become a great decision maker by following the steps above. Practice makes perfect, or at least better.
Decision making can be hard if you aren’t equipped with all of the information you need. By acquiring the right information you need to look at the situation from all angles, you can be successful at decision making.
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