Throughout the ups and downs of life, one thing is guaranteed – we will have lots of decisions to make along the way.
There are many elements that can stand in the way of making good decisions, however. These can include: not having enough information, anxiety about picking the wrong option or having too much choice, to name but a few examples.
You may even find yourself feeling overwhelmed and suffering from decision paralysis (or analysis paralysis). This is the state when weighing up the options has left you frozen in fear and disarray, unable to make a decision at all.
If you’re feeling stuck and unable to make a decision, check out our 10 decision-making techniques & tips below.
Discover our effective decision-making tips
Tip 1 – Weigh up the options, plus their pros & cons
If you’re struggling to make a decision, always start by putting pen to paper and drawing up the options, plus their positives and negatives.
Try to be as objective as possible, leaving all preconceived ideas at the door. Reviewing each option with an honest mindset and a blank slate can be hugely beneficial for decision making.
You may find that the scales are overwhelmingly tipped towards one choice.
Tip 2 – Practice positive self-talk
If a lack of confidence or negative thinking is an issue hindering the decision-making process, try practising some positive affirmations.
Positive affirmations can include statements such as “I am confident that whatever option I choose will be right for me” or “I have the skills and expertise to do a good job.” Ensure you choose a statement relevant to your situation.
The purpose of positive affirmations is to reframe a negative mindset, which if left unchecked can prove to be a major hindrance. Getting yourself into a positive mind frame can really influence your perception of the situation at hand, providing new insight towards a potential path forward.
Tip 3 – Think about the short vs long term gains
Tip 3 is all about assessing the long-term and short-term benefits of each option, helping to frame the potential possibilities over varying spans of time.
For example, if you’re torn between two job offers, think about how each offer may impact your career plan and aspirations in the long run, whilst considering the impact on you imminently.
Weighing up both short and long-term factors can help to put things into perspective and is a highly useful decision-making technique to employ.
Tip 4 – Do some research
A little bit of research goes a long way! An excellent tip for better decision making is to undertake some investigative work on the subject at hand.
There are lots of free resources online that can assist you in getting a well-rounded understanding of a seemingly infinite number of topics. Study all of the facts available to you and you may find a glaringly obvious answer to your decision.
Additionally, you may find strikingly similar case studies or examples that can help you to determine your next move.
Tip 5 – Speak to trusted friends, family or colleagues
When analysis paralysis gets the better of you, it’s well worth speaking to some of the most trusted people around you. With your best interests at heart, your nearest and dearest can be a handy tool to utilise as you try to uncover your next move.
Consider asking them to clarify some things for you; you may find that they provide a fresh perspective or have experienced a similar scenario themselves in the past.
Tip 6 – Be flexible
How fair-minded do you consider yourself? Can you put yourself in someone else’s shoes? If you struggle with both of these areas, it could mean you have a rigid way of thinking.
Shifting perspectives and looking at things from an alternative angle helps you to understand both sides of the coin. Without a flexible and open-minded attitude, decision making can be difficult.
Try to loosen your grip on the situation and let go of any preconceived ideas you may have; approaching decision making in a flexible manner will aid the process significantly.
Tip 7 – Learn & improve
Learning a new skill or updating existing skills can broaden your horizons, this can be especially helpful if you’re finding making decisions tricky due to a lack of options.
There are lots of ways to enhance your skillset. From developing your soft skills, such as practising critical thinking, to brushing up on hard skills like getting more familiar with Microsoft Office, there are lots of online resources available to help you sharpen up and broaden those horizons.
By learning and improving in several key areas, you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of making a firm decision for yourself.
Tip 8 – Speak to an expert
Getting feedback from an expert can be invaluable. With extensive experience, they can shine a light and provide insight that may have been previously hidden.
Whether struggling to make an important decision to do with your career, business or life in general, take the stress away from the decision making process with an expert. Explore our diverse range of coaches, mentors and wellbeing experts here.
A coach or mentor can provide an unbiased external view of your options which can help guide you to make better decisions.
Tip 9 – Remove emotion from the equation
Studies show that our mood can influence our choices. If you are in a worrisome or aggravated mood, you’re more likely to make a rash decision based on these negative emotions, so you should always hold off making any decisions whilst in a bad frame of mind.
Although easier said than done, remember to ensure you’re operating in a positive mindset at the point of making a decision.
Tip 10 – Listen to your gut
Finally, listen to your gut instinct, which is the underlying feeling you get about something (before your conscious mind has had chance to evaluate).
Can you recall a time when you had a funny feeling about something, only to find out at a later date that feeling was valid? That is your primal gut instinct in action!
To harness your gut instinct, simply quieten your emotions and mind, think about your query and go with that initial feeling. This can be an especially useful tool for those struggling with decision paralysis.
So there you have it – you now have several decision-making tools at hand to help you to get from A to B without feeling overwhelmed. We hope that with the above tips, you’ll be able to make effective decisions, that ultimately reward you with a positive outcome.
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