From the moment we get up of a morning to when we turn the light off and go to sleep at night all of us have to make decisions. Many of these will be trivial and made subconsciously but they will be decisions we have taken nevertheless.
It becomes more serious when we are faced with a difficult decision over which we might have to ponder and think about for a while. We’ll all be able to recall many key decisions which we have made and which have had a huge impact upon our lives. Equally, many of the decisions you’ll have taken will be more vivid as they’ll have been the wrong decision in hindsight. However, that said, it’s important that we don’t beat ourselves up over a wrong decision but simply view it as a mistake we can learn from.
The Decision Making Process
When we are faced with a major decision, there is no guarantee that we are going to make the right one all the time. Some decisions will be much quicker to reach than others and these will tend to be those which are usually right but when faced with a tricky decision in which you’re not sure how your actions will affect the ultimate outcome, there is a process you can follow to help you try to make sense of things and to, hopefully, enable you to reach a decision you can be satisfied with at the time of making it.
Firstly, consider any long-term consequences that may arise from your decision. Quite often when we make wrong choices, these have come about as we have let our emotions take over and our focus has been narrowed to only consider the short-term benefits. It’s not a co-incidence that salespeople know this too and target their sales pitch aimed at appealing to our sense of instant gratification. So, writing down on paper a list of both the benefits and consequences, both short and long term is often very useful in the decision making process.
Take as much time as you can before reaching a decision if you need to. Sometimes, we’re not afforded the luxury of having all the time in the world to make a decision. Often, there are deadlines imposed upon us by which time we have to make up our mind one way or another. If you’re in doubt and the time is up, then it’s best to take the less risky option whatever that may be but if you do have time to think about things in order to reach a decision, use the time wisely. Don’t procrastinate about it just because you have more time as that will lessen your control and will prevent you from steering yourself towards the desired outcome.
Let your conscience have its say. Often we let our hearts rule our heads and end up making bad decisions. Try to impose your own set of values upon the decision you have to take and see whether or not your beliefs and values have an impact upon the choices you have to make.
Taking Others into Consideration
Consider your decision in terms of how it might affect others. Ultimately, you may, at some point, have to take a decision that’s in your best interests but one which is not necessarily going to be welcomed by people closest to you who could include a family member, a partner, friends or work colleagues or staff. There may be unfortunate repercussions but, ultimately, you should have reached your decision based upon it being the best course of action available to you and you should be able to justify why you’ve taken it. However, you should avoid deliberately making decisions when you know they are going to hurt others close to you, if there are other alternative suitable choices you could have made instead.
On this point, you should never be afraid to upset a loved one, a friend or business associate by making a decision you know they won’t approve of if you feel that the path or decision they would like you to take goes against any or all of your principles or values. Simply put, you must be true to yourself.
Seek out the opinions of others. It’s useful to gain a sense of what others might do when faced with a similar decision but it’s also true that people’s perceptions may be very different to your own so you need to temper any enthusiasm with a clear view of how you see the bigger picture. Look upon it as a useful way of simply gaining more information and quite often, it’s not the decision they’ve reached which will have any bearing on you but their thought processes as to how they reached that conclusion that could have an influence on your own decision. Remember, it’s OK to seek advice and opinion but the final decision lies with you and you have the responsibility of making it.
Its ok to Change Your Mind
Remember too that it’s OK to change your mind later if the circumstances allow. If new information comes to light, it may be that you now accept that your original decision was not the best option and it’s OK to alter your viewpoint. This is a sign of strength not weakness. Weakness is when you stick to a decision knowing that it’s intrinsically the wrong one.
Finally, be gentle on yourself and accept that nobody will make the right decision all of the time. If you do make a decision which you later to come to regret and that decision is irreversible, you’ve just made a mistake. Learn from that mistake then move on.