Making decisions can sometimes be a complex procedure that requires creative and intuitive thinking. Arranging one’s thoughts in an orderly manner helps one focus on the priority and eliminate redundancies which can mar the process and cloud the final decision with doubt.
An excerpt from a brilliant author tells us how we struggle through life even in the simplest scenarios.
Some decisions will be obvious— ‘‘no-brainers.’’ Your bank account is low, but you have a two-week vacation coming up and you want to get away to someplace warm to relax with your family. Will you accept your in-laws’ offer of free use of their Florida beachfront condo? Sure. You like your employer and feel ready to move forward in your career. Will you step in for your boss for three weeks while she attends a professional development course? Of course. But the no-brainers are the exceptions.
Most of the important decisions you’ll face in life are tough and complex, with no easy or obvious solutions. And they probably won’t affect you alone. They’ll affect your family, your friends, your coworkers, and many others known and unknown. Making good decisions is thus one of the most important determinants of how well you meet your responsibilities and achieve your personal and professional goals. In short, the ability to make smart choices is a fundamental life skill.
Most of us, however, dread making hard decisions. Tough choices have high stakes and serious consequences; they involve numerous and complex considerations, and they expose us to the judgments of others. The need to make a difficult decision puts us at risk of anxiety, confusion, doubt, error, regret, embarrassment, loss. No wonder we find it hard to settle down and choose. In living through a major decision, we suffer periods of alternating self-doubt and overconfidence, of procrastination, of wheel-spinning and flip-flopping, even of desperation.
Our discomfort often leads us to make decisions too quickly, too slowly, or too arbitrarily. We flip a coin, toss a dart, let someone else—or time—decide. The result: a mediocre choice, dependent on luck for success. It’s only afterward that we realize we could have made a smarter choice. And by then it’s too late.
Why do we have such trouble? It’s simple: we don’t know how to make decisions well. Despite the importance of decision-making to our lives, few of us ever receive any training in it. So, we are left to learn from experience. But experience is a costly, inefficient teacher that teaches us bad habits along with good ones. Because decision situations vary so markedly, the experience of making one important decision often seems of little use when facing the next.
How is deciding what job to take or what house to buy like deciding what school to send your children to, what medical treatment to pursue a serious illness, or what balance to strike among cost, aesthetics, and function in planning a new office park? It’s true: there’s often very little relationship between what you decide in one instance and what you decide in another. However, that does not mean that you can’t learn to make decisions more successfully. The connection among the decisions you make lies not in what you decide, but in how you decide. The only way to raise your odds of making a good decision is to learn to use a good decision-making process—one that gets you to the best.
With this knowledge, one can agree that a streamlined process is vital to success at the workplace and in everything we do in our daily lives.
The process will be discussed in our next blog post.