9/2/2022 – How Do You Make Tough Decisions?

Are you in a situation where you don’t know what the right decision is? Do you have a whirlwind of information in your head that you can’t seem to structure and ultimately causing you to be indecisive? We’ve all been there and understanding how difficult it feels to make a decision. With the right approach, methodology and questions, even the toughest of decisions can be logically and rationally deconstructed and addressed, thus giving you with the confidence to pull the trigger and the trust that you made the right decision.

Decision making methodology

Step 1: Get clear on what you truly want, not what you’re supposed to do

Step 2: Determine the cost of indecision. How much or what is it costing me by not making a decision?

Step 3: Conduct scenario analysis by playing the if-then game. If I choose an option, then x, y, z will happen.

Step 4: Make a list of pro’s and con’s for each scenario you played out. Organise these pro’s in order of importance and con’s in 2 buckets; acceptable and non-negotiables.

Step 5: Decide. Each possible decision you make will have pro’s and con’s. Pick the one with the best pro’s and con’s that you can live with.

If you’re still having trouble making a decision, it helps to understand exactly why decisions can be so difficult. Keep reading to develop the confidence to make the right decision.

Why decisions can be so difficult

A hard decision is hard not because of the difficulty of the making the decision itself but rather how the decision maker perceives it. This happens for a number of reasons, they feel as if the decision has high stakes, two or more options hold similar weights in their minds or a decision brings up previous unhelpful memories from childhood or otherwise. Additionally, when we look at the word ‘decision’, it comes from the the latin word ‘caedere’ which means ‘to cut off’. When making a decision, the decision maker might consider the choice a self-inflicting wound because the choice they make could lead to a worse outcome than they are currently experiencing.

Not making a decision is a decision

Usually when people consider a decision, they kick the can down the road and procrastinate on making a choice. A study from the 1990’s by Thomas Gilovich, a US psychologist has shown that in the short term, decision makers experience feelings of regret from ‘errors of commission’ or the regret of taking an action that leads to a disappointing outcome, however, in the long term, this develops into a feeling of regret from ‘errors of omission’ or the regret of disappointing outcomes that arise from not taking an action.

This is a long winded way of saying, postponing your decision to make a decision is a decision and in the short-term you might feel better but in the long-term will result in greater feelings of regret. In addition to this feeling, there is usually a cost associated with delaying decisions, whether that be financial, emotional or otherwise. The reason for this is because the world is a dynamic place and when you don’t move there are others moving meaning if you stand still, you are actually, relative to everything else, moving backwards (assuming everyone is moving forward). This is an oversimplified metaphor but I believe the point holds.

At the end of the day, the decision is yours. No one can you tell you what the right thing to do is, not your friends, not a stranger on your internet and not even your best friend in the whole world. I’ll leave you with a quote from Ralph Keeney, a decision maker professor, “Your decisions offer you the only way t o purposefully influence anything in your life. Everything else just happens.”.

Thank you for reading.

Cheers,

Richard

Are you in a situation where you don’t know what the right decision is? Do you have a whirlwind of information in your head that you can’t seem to structure and ultimately causing you to be indecisive? We’ve all been there and understanding how difficult it feels to make a decision. With the right approach, methodology and questions, even the toughest of decisions can be logically and rationally deconstructed and addressed, thus giving you with the confidence to pull the trigger and the trust that you made the right decision.

Decision making methodology

Step 1: Get clear on what you truly want, not what you’re supposed to do

Step 2: Determine the cost of indecision. How much or what is it costing me by not making a decision?

Step 3: Conduct scenario analysis by playing the if-then game. If I choose an option, then x, y, z will happen.

Step 4: Make a list of pro’s and con’s for each scenario you played out. Organise these pro’s in order of importance and con’s in 2 buckets; acceptable and non-negotiables.

Step 5: Decide. Each possible decision you make will have pro’s and con’s. Pick the one with the best pro’s and con’s that you can live with.

If you’re still having trouble making a decision, it helps to understand exactly why decisions can be so difficult. Keep reading to develop the confidence to make the right decision.

Why decisions can be so difficult

A hard decision is hard not because of the difficulty of the making the decision itself but rather how the decision maker perceives it. This happens for a number of reasons, they feel as if the decision has high stakes, two or more options hold similar weights in their minds or a decision brings up previous unhelpful memories from childhood or otherwise. Additionally, when we look at the word ‘decision’, it comes from the the latin word ‘caedere’ which means ‘to cut off’. When making a decision, the decision maker might consider the choice a self-inflicting wound because the choice they make could lead to a worse outcome than they are currently experiencing.

Not making a decision is a decision

Usually when people consider a decision, they kick the can down the road and procrastinate on making a choice. A study from the 1990’s by Thomas Gilovich, a US psychologist has shown that in the short term, decision makers experience feelings of regret from ‘errors of commission’ or the regret of taking an action that leads to a disappointing outcome, however, in the long term, this develops into a feeling of regret from ‘errors of omission’ or the regret of disappointing outcomes that arise from not taking an action.

This is a long winded way of saying, postponing your decision to make a decision is a decision and in the short-term you might feel better but in the long-term will result in greater feelings of regret. In addition to this feeling, there is usually a cost associated with delaying decisions, whether that be financial, emotional or otherwise. The reason for this is because the world is a dynamic place and when you don’t move there are others moving meaning if you stand still, you are actually, relative to everything else, moving backwards (assuming everyone is moving forward). This is an oversimplified metaphor but I believe the point holds.

At the end of the day, the decision is yours. No one can you tell you what the right thing to do is, not your friends, not a stranger on your internet and not even your best friend in the whole world. I’ll leave you with a quote from Ralph Keeney, a decision maker professor, “Your decisions offer you the only way t o purposefully influence anything in your life. Everything else just happens.”.

Thank you for reading.

Cheers,

Richard

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