Ever left a decision just that little bit too late, and regretted it?
I did. I was doing my driving test with a frowning assessor who had a clipboard in one hand and a red pen poised in the other. I was in the middle of a busy intersection, waiting to turn across traffic, and the light turned red before I could execute the turn. I should have hit the accelerator, but instead I froze. I even thought about backing up for a split second, then I quickly pressed the pedal to the metal and completed the turn as traffic started moving towards us from the opposite direction.
You might have guessed that the frowning assessor was not impressed. You might also have guessed that I did not get my driver’s license that day.
How often do we face decisions and hesitate? The answer, for most of us, is too often. Our strategies for making decisions are frequently faulty and instead of hurtling us towards success, they leave us stranded in the middle of an intersection.
Here are three ways we hamper our decision-making, and how to accelerate past them.
Not generating enough options
Ever think that there are only one or two options and you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place? That kind of thinking has you believing there’s no good choice to be made, so you don’t make the choice at all.
The reality is there are almost always a multitude of options in every situation. If you only have one or two things to choose from, brainstorm until you have at least 10. This isn’t about all 10 options being reasonable and doable. It’s about opening your mind to discovering – or creating – the options that you’re blind to at the moment.
Generating too many options
The other way we put off decisions is by coming up with too many options and not stopping to make a decision. Addicted to creating possibilities, we end up with an overwhelming number of scenarios that need to be evaluated. Too much choice ends up looking like too much hard work. So we never make the decision.
If you’re a creative type, you’ll need to limit the number of options or the time you’ll allow yourself to come up with those options. Once you have a reasonable number of options, decide what’s the most important criteria for making the decision, such as cost, human impact, or time, and then narrow the options down based on that prioritised criteria. Finally, make the best choice you can with the information you’ve got.
Overanalysing unimportant decisions
The third way we hamper our decisions is by wanting to get every single decision right, whether it’s a major decision, a moderate decision, or a minor decision.
The truth is, you’ll never get every decision right, but there are decisions that warrant more of your time and energy, like choosing what home to buy or who to marry. Stop spending the same amount of time and energy deciding on a $10 bet as on a $100,000 one. You’ve got better things to do, haven’t you? If the consequence of you getting a decision wrong is minor, or is easy to fix, just decide and move on.
Take it from Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, who said “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
It’s the moments of doing nothing – the hesitation at the intersection of decision – that we regret the most.
In this article Debbie admitted to failing her first driving test because she hesitated. Where do you hesitate when it comes to decisions, or where do you make quick decisions that serve you well? We’d love you to comment below and share your decision-making strategies and stories.