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Mechanics of Making a Decision

Tips for making decisions

How to do it quickly, efficiently, and without regret

Here are some strategies to help you move past that fear and just decide already.

By Mimi Greenwood Knight

Paralysis by analysis. We’ve all been there. Whether we’re so afraid of making the wrong choice that it’s easier to continue gathering data and avoid the inevitable, or we’re just secretly hoping that if we stall for long enough someone else will step in and decide for us, fear is usually at the core of our hesitation.

Distinguish between big and small decisions, and think about whether you’re giving them proportional weight. What’s the worst thing that could happen as a result of a poor decision in a particular instance? What’s the best? Will the outcome matter in a year? Ten years?

Consider your end goal. Will this decision help you make progress on a project or fix a problem? Is this decision time sensitive?

Start small. Conclusively decide what you’ll have for dinner or what movie you’ll watch on TV, then do it without regrets or thinking about the other options. Do this daily building up to bigger and bigger decisions.

Remember, perfection isn’t mandatory. Unless it’s a hugely serious life-altering decision, it’s alright to make an “okay” choice that moves you a step in the right direction.

For a decision with equally good possible outcomes, give yourself a time limit.

Get the opinion of someone you trust. Seek council, advice, or mentoring from someone who understands what you’re trying to achieve. Listen to their fresh perspective. They may have experience or information you haven’t considered.

Don’t choose something just because it’s what you feel like you’re “supposed” to choose. If you’re feeling pressured to make a certain decision, step back and examine your reasoning. Is this really what you want, or just what you think you’re supposed to want?

  Pick a direction and go hard. If none of your choices would be result in harm or be detrimental to your objective, just give one a try.

You can always evaluate the outcome over time and approach it next time with more information.

Delegate. Is this really your decision to make? Or could it be done by someone else? You don’t want to get in the habit of passing the buck every time you meet with a decision. But if it’s a matter of having too much on your plate, maybe it’s time to (decide to) delegate some of the decisions to someone you trust.

Remember, nobody makes the right choice every time. But if you routinely delay deciding because you’re afraid of messing up, you’ll never get anywhere. Commit to be proactive, make decisions, and move forward.

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