How will you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that any decision you make is the right one? Sometimes, we can all guilty of decision paralysis by over-analysis. Some things in life are black or white, and so are easy to make decisions about. A juggernaut is speeding towards you. You want to live. You jump out of the way and you know unequivocally you have made the right decision. But should you buy a car in silver or blue? Hire more staff? And if so, who?
So much of life is ambiguous. Sometimes both decisions would have been right or wrong… to some extent. If we wait for absolute certainty before acting then we may never act. Sometimes there are no ‘right’ decisions, only different or alternate decisions. Some people wreak havoc by worrying about what to do. The four most common traps are:
- Wanting too much certainty before acting. Perfectionist types with simplistic ideas of right and wrong frequently go for this one. They don’t feel it is reasonable to act on a decision while still having doubts about it. They want a certificate to come through the letterbox telling them the right decision has been reached and officially approved. As this doesn’t happen, their minds go round and round in circles and they actually think too much.
- Making emotional decisions based on a whim. Although such decisions are often easily recognised as mistaken, the emotional decider will rarely admit this and instead seek to ‘back up’ their dodgy decision with emotional rationalisations – kidding themselves and sometimes other people.
- Believing a decision can only be valid if ratified by other people. This approach often comes out of fear of making an entirely independent decision.
- Constantly making the same mistakes because of failure to learn from the past. Of course, people rarely admit that they have ‘failed to learn’. Instead they blame lack of decent ‘karma’, poor equipment, conjoined star signs, lack of support from other team members and any number of other ‘reasons’ for their problems and poor decision making.
When decision making gets tough – trust your gut instincts. Research published in ‘Current Biology’ shows that in some instances snap decisions are better than endless pedantic pondering and logical weighing up. Test subjects were asked to pick the odd one out on a screen covered with more than 650 identical symbols, including one rotated version of the same symbol. They performed better when they were given no time to linger and were forced to rely on their subconscious to select the correct answer.
So to make good decisions you need to learn to trust your instincts. Don’t always insist on ‘logical’ reasons for everything, such as why to get the silver rather than blue car. Learn to say ‘Because it feels right.’ When you do base decision making on weighing up the pros and cons, use your imagination. Really sit down and envisage living with the decision. How does that feel?
Remember, some decisions won’t make sense to other people and that may be OK. Most medical advances (open heart surgery, for one) were instigated by people who decided to follow what seemed like crazy ideas to others at the time. And finally, don’t beat yourself up if you do make a ‘wrong’ decision. You can learn from it and hey; you are only human!
We can help you with your decision making. Give us a call on 01736 339 384 or email HelloThere@sapiencehr.co.uk