A three step process to making sure you make the best decisions every time.
“It’s the ability to choose which makes us human.” — Madeleine L’Engle
When you ask people who are dying about the regrets of their life, there are three consistent things they say. First, they wish they would have spent more time with family and friends and less time at work.
Second, they wish they would have spoken up more often about what mattered to them.
And third, they wish they would have had the courage to work hard toward what they cared about in life, rather than spending all of their energy trying to become what others wanted or needed them to be.
The decisions we make matter. So how do we make awesome ones?
Turns out the first key to making great decisions is actually being able to make one. Too many of us wait for some kind of tried-and-true answer, some writing in the sky promising us perfect results, and in the process, we let the window for decision making pass us by.
It might seem harmless enough to put off a decision for a period of time while you “think about it,” but too often, “thinking about it” turns into, “forgetting to think about it,” and failing to choose can be the worst decision of all. As Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism says:
“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”
In other words, if you don’t make a decision, someone else is going to make it for you. And you will run the risk of joining the ranks of those who reach the end of their life and regret letting everyone else choose their life for them.
On top of being at least a little bit decisive, good decision making — in business and in life — involves three key elements.
1. Determine what you want
One trick author Donald Miller uses for getting to the end of life with no regrets is imagining where you want to be a year from now, or five years from now, or even at the end of your life, and then backing up to think about what decisions you’ll need to make to get there.
In business, this means determining how big you want your company to be, what kind of profit you’d like to be making, what employees you want on your team and what clients you’d like to be working with.
In life, you could imagine the qualities you would like your spouse to have, or what career path you would like to follow, and this could help you decide who to date or were to go to college.
He calls the moments you’re imagining “climactic scenes” like in a movie; and says if you can imagine the climactic scenes of your life, you can much easier make the needed decisions to get there.
2. Make decisions for later, not for now
When making any decision, there are likely dozens of options. Some of the options give you pleasure immediately. And often, the exact opposite decisions will yield pleasure later. Make sure you take this into account when making your choice.
For example, ice cream yields pleasure now, while going for a run yields pleasure later. Buying that car or expensive electronic you can’t afford yields pleasure now, while investing your money yields pleasure later.
Make sure you’re not making all of your decisions for that “right now” pleasure.
3. Be willing to evaluate and adjust
Life is constantly changing and evolving. Be willing evaluate your decisions often and ask yourself if they’re yielding the results you want.
If not, be willing to adjust.
Failure to make the “right” decision right now is not the end of us. In fact, it can often be the best education we can get before we continue to move forward.
- Want to Make Better Decisions? Here’s A Mental Trick
- Don’t Overthink it: 5 Tips for Daily Decision Making
- How to Make A Damn Decision
If you have a hard time making decisions, or if you fear you’re making choices that are going to lead to regret, maybe this will help.
No Sidebar: At Work
Most people hold back when it comes to decision in business due to a fear of making a bad decision. Would you be surprised to know failures can actually be the greatest asset to us in our career? That is, if we know how to respond to it.
If you’re still worried about making a bad decision, check out these bad habits and ask yourself honestly if you practice any of them.
On a more positive note, there are also a list of habits you can follow when you’re looking to make a good decision in the present. Here are six secrets to making great business decisions.
No Sidebar: At Home
How do you know if your life is going in the right direction? You might not. You might just have to trust that if you’re making the best decisions you know how, they’ll all lead to something good over time.
But if you’re looking to make your decision making easier, minimizing your decisions might be key. There is such a thing as decision fatigue, where too many decisions makes you a bad decision-maker.
Finally, just changing the way you talk about things might have a big impact on the decisions you make. If you don’t take control over the decisions in your life, somebody else will.
No Sidebar: In Your Soul
Think you can’t change the past? Think again. Maybe you can’t change the events of the past, but you can change the story you tell yourself about them. And that might make all the difference.
And next time you have a decision to make, consider that the “gut” decision you were going to make might not be the best one. Stopping for two minutes to ask yourself a few questions might be the pause you need.
If you do get to a place where you’re dealing with regret — and we all do — the best strategy for moving forward and making great decisions is to let go of the regret, forgive yourself and make the best choices you know how moving forward.
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