Throughout our lives we constantly make big decisions that shape our future circumstances. And these decisions determine the sort of person we become; for example, whether to start a family, the choice of a major in college, or a career. These choices involve dramatically new experiences that we can know very little in advance. So how do you make big decisions?
When was the last time you had to make a decision that could change the course of your life?
I had to make one of these decisions recently. It involved permanently changing my line of work and working with complete strangers.
It led me to think about how we make decisions such as these. What’s important is the following:
1.Whether you can reach a conclusion
2.How long it takes to make a decision
3.Whether it will be the right decision
The key to making a life-changing decision as stupid as it sounds is to actually make a decision. A decision can’t change your life if you never make it or take so long to make the decision that the opportunity passes and your chance is down the toilet.
1.Set aside some quiet time – Avoid working on important decisions when you’re tired, hungry, don’t feel well, or are emotionally upset, physically overworked or under a great deal of pressure and stress. Pick a time and a place where you can be undisturbed while you embark on the process of decision-making. Just be sure you’re in a place that’s quiet where you can devote your attention to the decision you must make.
2.Clarify your thoughts – Clear the noise by doing some meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, prayer or whatever helps you clarify your thoughts. A calm and centered mind is the best foundation for effective decision-making.
3.Be clear about your goals – Take some time to think about what it is you want, what you’re willing to work for and what result you want to achieve. Such goal clarity is necessary to arrive at a workable, sound decision.
4.Give yourself a timetable – The more difficult the decision, the greater the likelihood of it slipping away without a timetable to adhere to. At the very least, give yourself a progress check at regular intervals, so you can gauge how well you’re doing and adjust as needed.
5.Gather information – Not every decision can be made without further research, gathering information, checking sources, lining up resources and allies, as appropriate. Be sure information gathering is part of your decision-making process on important matters.
6.Strive to be objective – Objectivity is paramount when it comes to making crucial choices, some of which may be life-altering.
7.Consider what your instincts tell you – Some call it a sixth sense, while others say it’s relying on your gut. Listen to what your instincts tell you, for they’re often right when it comes to what’s best for you or what you should be paying attention to before making a key decision.
8.Lay out the facts – Put everything you know about the decision you need to make regarding your selected goal down on paper so you can look at it objectively. Don’t skip this step, because to do so will distort your decision. You need all the facts before you can go on.
9.Weigh pros and cons – Every decision has pluses and minuses to consider. Some are obvious, while others can only be discerned through a careful analysis of the facts, other knowledge gleaned from experience, the advice of trusted friends, loved ones or family members, co-workers and experts.
10.Envision the consequences of your actions – Look ahead and think about what will happen if you take this course of action you’re considering. See in your mind the consequences of this decision. If what you envision is acceptable, even desirable, this will help solidify your choice. If it’s negative, are you willing to go ahead anyway? Is the likely outcome worth the risk or fallout for the ultimate good?
11.Think how your decision will square with your values – If you go ahead and fall in line with what others say you should do, you’ll be dissatisfied with the result. Always be true to your values, since they’re the core of who you are. Any decisions you make should align with them.
12.Factor in follow-up – Remember that whatever decision you make isn’t the end of the process. Also important is taking the time to follow up on your chosen actions. Did they turn out as expected? Did you meet your objectives and arrive at your goal? If this is a decision you’ll likely make again, is there a way you can improve upon it? Can you revise the current action to make your choice better?
13.Make an informed choice – After going through each of these steps, you’re ready to make an informed choice. Proceed with resoluteness and select what you’re going to do. This is what the decision-making process entails and you’ve conducted yourself thoughtfully and thoroughly. Make your choice.
14.Act on your decision – You’ve selected your choice and are now ready to act on your decision. Keep in mind that thoughts without action are ineffective. You’ve come all this way and put in the due diligence to arrive at a decision. Now, it’s time to get to work and act on your decision.
So, if you are faced with a life-changing decision, consider some of these points. Go deeper with the experience and ask yourself the tough questions. At the same time, make sure you make a decision. You’ll regret the decisions you didn’t make more than the decisions you made and got wrong, but learned from in the process, and went on to bigger and better things because of them.