Making decisions, both seemingly easy ones and tough ones is an integral part of everyday life, and hence it is important to know how to decide.
Whether they are decisions on your personal life or professional ones as a business owner, all are very important.
And knowing how to decide and do it right is a skill you need to have.
Every day, we make decisions that direct our path in life and dictate where we end up along the way.
Everything we are and what we will become is and will be a result of the decisions we make or fail to make.
It begins with the little things such as when you decide to wake up each day, what you choose to eat, and what you wear.
All of these decisions can set the tone for how your day is going to be and whether or not you will find fulfillment in your day.
Aside from these little decisions, there are bigger and more important ones too that everyone has to make, especially in the business world.
As a business owner or entrepreneur, or manager, you have to know how to decide for you to be effective.
Leadership comes with great responsibility, and your decisions go a long way in determining your success in this endeavor.
Sometimes, we might struggle with making decisions and even procrastinate because of this.
Also, as important as the timing of decisions making is, so also is the quality of decisions you make.
Therefore, knowing how to decide would help you make decisions quickly and also make the right ones.
As you read on, you will learn some of the reasons why it might be difficult for us to make decisions.
You will also see how to decide.
What Does it Mean to Decide?
In the context of this article, we will define “to decide” as a resolution that someone makes in his/her mind after careful considerations.
To decide means to come to a personal conclusion on something once you have considered the facts about it and become convinced of the right way to go.
Sometimes, making a decision is necessary when there are several alternatives or options and one has to be chosen.
Take, for instance, you are at a supermarket and need to shop for groceries.
If you need to buy a beverage, for example, you might find a lot of options available in the store, given the competition for this food product in today’s market.
Two or more of these brands might appeal to you, but you have to select one as was your plan.
In this situation, you have to decide on which one to pick out of the many options that are available to you.
This is just a scenario to help you understand what it means to decide especially when there are different alternatives available.
These are the kind of choices that you have to make as an entrepreneur every day.
No, you are not deciding on what groceries to shop for (or maybe you are), but making serious decisions that affect your business and personal growth.
These decisions are everything as they can make or mar your business/organization.
Therefore, it is very important to learn how to decide.
How to Decide – Factors That Influence Decision Making
Deciding on something or anything at all is not the simplest of tasks you can embark on.
Every decision is an important one, ranging from what to wear every day to tougher ones like when to retire or what investments to undergo.
For every decision you make, there are certain factors that directly or indirectly influence those decisions.
These factors act as pointers so to speak, directing you on what path to follow and what choices to make among different options and alternatives.
Here are some of the factors that readily affect or influence decision making:
This is one of the main factors that always influence your decision-making and affect how you decide.
For many of the situations that we find ourselves where we have to make decisions, we’ve been in similar situations before.
Usually, when you have to decide on something and you have an experience with another thing similar to that, it might affect your decision.
Having a positive experience with a choice for example might influence you into making the same choice when a similar situation presents itself.
On the other hand, bad experiences in an area in the past can make you decide against those choices to avoid the same mistakes.
It is worth noting though that making decision based on past experiences do not necessarily help you make the best decisions.
That doesn’t remove the fact though that past experiences greatly influence the decision-making process.
Another factor that readily affects or influences decision-making in humans is our differences.
One example of this individual difference is age.
There are certain things we need to decide on that our age would play a key role in what choice we make.
For example, older people might have more difficulties making swift decisions as cognitive abilities decline with age.
Also, they might be prone to being more overconfident when making decisions as opposed to younger adults who might be more strategic.
Additionally, while youths might be open to many options and choices, older people would usually prefer fewer alternatives to make decisions easier.
Another individual difference that might influence decision-making is our socioeconomic status.
Socioeconomic status includes income level, education, and occupation.
This also has a way of influencing you when you make decisions and directing where your decision goes.
Personal relevance is all about believing that you matter and whatever decision you make is relevant.
When this belief is strong, then making decisions come more naturally, and deciding is easy.
However, when you feel that your decision is irrelevant or doesn’t matter, then there might be a more withdrawn approach to making decisions.
This is another factor that affects decision-making.
How to Decide – Factors That Make Deciding Difficult
If you are currently reading on how to decide, chances are you sometimes struggle with making decisions.
It might be that you delay in making decisions and end up missing out on opportunities because of this.
Also, the problem could be that you struggle to get your decisions right, as when you finally do make decisions they end up as poor choices.
Whatever the case may be, it is not easy to make decisions and you can take solace in knowing you are not alone.
Find below some of the reasons why it might be hard for you to decide, as this will set the pace on what to do about it:
Having Too Many Options/Choices
This is a major reason why you might struggle with making decisions sometimes, i.e having too many options, choices, or alternatives.
Granted, having alternatives or options to choose from can be very helpful when making certain decisions.
This is because it gives you enough areas and subjects to consider and makes your scope of decision-making wider.
However, this can also affect the process of decision making negatively in that it increase thought process and delays decisions.
Especially if the options or choices available to you all have pronounced benefits and advantages, then decision-making might be even harder.
Unavailability of Enough Information or Facts
Usually, when you have enough information or facts about a subject or something, deciding on it is easier.
One thing that facts do for us is to open our eyes wide to the pros and cons of choices, which is one of the things to consider when making decisions.
However, when you do not have the facts you need on a certain subject or decision you have to make, it can cause difficulties.
Without the information and facts, you might be left with no other option but to take subjective risks and guesses, which affect decision-making negatively.
Status Quo Bias
Another factor that might make it hard for us to decide is what we call status quo bias.
This refers to a particular way in which our mind has been programmed to think without us even realizing it.
It is also referred to as cognitive bias sometimes.
This makes us stick with what we already know or are comfortable with, instead of choosing something different.
Even if the alternative option or choice is better, we tend to stick with what we already know rather than change.
This rather psychological factor is also another reason why we might find it difficult to make decisions.
Psychologists have identified decision fatigue as yet another reason why we might have a hard time making decisions.
This occurs when we have to make multiple decisions one after the other over and over again in a day.
This can affect us in our ability to choose, such that we might either have a hard time saying no when presented with an offer or saying yes.
We might not even be disposed to thinking about making decisions in the first place.
And this can impede our decision-making process.
The Process of Deciding is Stressful
Unless you are making simple decisions where you can just take a guess or follow your guts, decision-making is stressful, especially the tough ones.
Every important decision that you have to make would involve a deep thought process and careful examination of facts and available information.
This will expend your time and energy.
You will also have to face moments of indecisiveness and constantly second-guessing your choices.
There might be a lot of back and forth in the process before the eventual decision.
The stakes involved in the decision you want to make might also make the process a daunting one.
This is thus one of the factors that make the ability to decide a hard one.
How to Decide – Suggestions That Help
If allowed, a lot of people would prefer not to have to make decisions anymore every day of their lives.
Instead, they should have someone making the decisions for them as long as it is guaranteed to be the best decision.
Perhaps you also fall among this category of people who dread the task of making decisions, especially tough, important or life-altering ones.
Well, decision-making is hard obviously, but it is something you would have to do.
The most important decisions you have to make in life must be taken by you.
And you should take responsibility for them.
No matter how scary the thought of making decisions is though, the good news is that there are suggestions on how to decide and do it well.
Here are some things you can do on how to decide and also consistently make the right decisions:
Identify the Problem
The first thing to do when you have to decide is to know what the problem is exactly.
That means you need to figure out what you need to decide on.
You also need to know why you need to decide on that.
Sometimes, the decision you have to make might be choosing out of different options or alternatives before you.
That is the problem that you have and you need to decide on.
Some persons might take a guess in this situation, follow their guts or even act impulsively.
However, if your goal is to make the right decision and a wise one, then it would be good to apply the other suggestions that follow.
Identify The Goal Behind The Decision
Identifying the goal is determining what it is you want to achieve with the decision you have before you.
This will help you to avoid making decisions on impulse or rushing the decision-making process.
It involves taking an open and objective look at the decision you have before you.
Also, you need to reflect on the underlying reason behind it.
If you do this, it will help you to avoid making bad decisions.
For example, an employee who is undergoing challenges at work and is not satisfied might decide to quit his job.
It sounds like the obvious choice and a simple decision to make.
However, before jumping into this decision, the person needs to reiterate the goal behind the decision.
It could be that the problem the employee is having is with a toxic or overdemanding boss.
If that is the case, then the best decision might not be to leave the job entirely.
This is especially if it’s a job he/she loves and enjoys.
This is an example of how knowing the goal can help you decide and rightly at that.
Make a Comparision of the Options Available
This is necessary if you want to make a decision that involves choosing between two or more available options.
It helps to do a proper comparison between the options available to you.
Knowing what your goal is and what you want to get out of the process, you can look at the factors surrounding each of the options.
Then consider which one has the things that matter most to you.
That way, you can see the option that comes top and this can aid you to decide.
When you have to decide to choose between two or more available options, it helps to consider the pros and cons of each.
Try to be as open as possible while considering these, and it also helps to write them down.
For each choice, see if the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa.
This can help you decide on the best line of action to take when making your choice.
Apply an Elimination Method to Streamline Choices Using Standards
When there are lots of options to choose from, making decisions can be quite difficult.
One thing that can help in simplifying the decision making therefore is limiting the options or choices before you.
To do this, you can eliminate some of the ones that are not close to what you want using set standards.
That means for every decision you have to take, there are certain standards that you should use as a benchmark.
Let’s say for instance you want to buy a mobile phone.
Given the many options available in the market for this product, making a choice might be hard.
However, you can make it a standard that whatever mobile phone you have must have good battery power and storage before other things.
That way, you can successfully eliminate so many options that do not fall within these standards.
You can always use this method to make your decision-making easy especially when presented with many options.
Don’t Let Your Biases Get in The Way
Sometimes our human bias can get in the way of our decision-making and cause us to make wrong or unwise decisions.
These biases are usually in the way we think and how our minds have been programmed to accept and interpret information.
For example, we might remember past experiences more than we do facts that are ready before us.
If we allow these biases to affect us, it can lead to us taking rash decisions and making bad choices.
Therefore, it is important that we consciously open our minds to the biases that we have by nature.
Then, when we have to make decisions on something, we do not let these biases get in the way.
Avoid Making Decisions When You are Emotionally Stressed or Stretched
Making decisions, especially important ones when you are stressed emotionally is a bad option.
More often than not, the decisions made in this state end up being poor or bad.
Therefore, when you are in a bad or angry mood, try not to make key decisions at such times.
Instead, allow time to pass and use take your time to calm down and relax.
Consider all the facts and information you need to help you in making the right decision.
Use Rules Where Appropriate to Reduce the Need to Make Decisions
There are some little stuff and everyday activities whereby you shouldn’t need to stress on it by making a decision always.
For such things, you can simply just make rules around them and discipline yourself to work by the rules.
That way, it is not all the time you have to carry out those activities that you go through a decision-making process.
Once there are rules guiding those small activities, it makes decision-making a whole lot easier.
Think About the Consequences
When making important decisions, it is good to always think about the short-term and long-term consequences.
While you might not be so certain about what the outcome of your decision might be, you can look at possible outcomes.
Try to expand the consequences of your actions as widely as you can to give you a proper perspective of it.
A consideration of these consequences can help make your decision easier and help you make the right ones.
Final Thoughts on How to Decide
Decisions are a necessity every day, and we cannot avoid them or shift the responsibility to others.
While you might ask for assistance from professionals or experts to give you guidelines to make your decisions easier sometimes, the sole responsibility rest on you.
Whether they are seemingly little decisions like what to eat, drink or wear, or bigger ones like what to invest in or what sales strategy to deploy, you need to learn the skill of how to decide.
Consider some of the factors that make your decision-making process hard, and also know what influences your decisions for the worse and avoid them.
If you do all these including other suggestions given thus far, you can learn the secret of how to decide, and keep making the best decisions.