Decision-making is a robust thought process. Every moment of the day, we make tons of decisions. Some decisions we make are inconsequential, and some others life-changing. Whatever the outcome of our decisions is, our optimum target is for a positive result. Therefore, we always want to make sure that we come out top in all the decisions we make. That is the essence of this piece, to help us hone the art of our effective decision-making skills.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — Lao Tzu.
As powerful as decisions are, they are not always that easy to arrive at, which is why you want to make sure you go about it the right way. We want to make sure we get our decisions right; hence, the need for effective decision-making. Making effective decisions starts with taking the first step, just like Lao Tzu said in the quotation above.
Every inspiration, idea, achievement was born out of a decision. Every step you take towards making that decision counts. You must filter through alternatives, go through the smog of uncertainties, complexities, interpersonal issues, and high-risk consequences to get to the right decision. More so, the truth in itself is that not making the decision is a decision itself. So, would you rather choose not to make the decision or start from somewhere? Your guess is as good as mine; it is better to start somewhere. That is why I have listed thorough steps to take to ensure you make effective decisions.
11 Ways of Effective Decision-Making
It is important to note that we are accountable for the product of our decisions and so must bear the consequences that will come with it, hence why we mustn’t make hasty decisions. Making effective decisions requires tact. We can adopt various ways to ensure that we arrive at the right decision, for the right moment and the right occasion. Lets’ look at some of the ways to help you arrive at a practical conclusion. Let’s go:
#1. Think It Through
Most times, we make decisions without even thinking about what we are deciding on or the outcome, which is alright, all things being equal. But when it comes to a huge life-changing decision, you want to take your time to think about it. By thinking about it, you are weighing your options. You are deciding whether there are other alternatives or ways to go about the situation at hand. Also, you need to figure out the pros and cons and measure out which one has more benefits.
Thinking it through allows you to determine the impact your final decision will have on your future and in the life of those around you. Some people say decide on it quickly to get it over and done with and not lag on the decision process. However, I say that you should think about it thoroughly. Thinking it through so will lead to a more satisfactory outcome. The act of thinking it through an issue could evolve over days, weeks, months, or even through a couple of years.
#2. Sleep It Through
Hmm! Am pretty sure you are wondering why you must sleep through the thought before making that decision. I bet you are also wondering about the difference between this and thinking it through. The fact is that the beauty of sleeping it through lies in the quietness of your mind. We process information better when our mind is at its optimum silence. That era of peace allows our minds to search for answers by connecting deeply with our subconscious state.
Sleeping it through doesn’t have to last that long. It may be a night or two that does the deal in ushering you to the compelling solution you seek. It may even be for a couple of hours during a siesta—a moment during the day when you take a break, and your mind is in a perfect halcyon state. Then, you will wake up and find that you have an answer as to why you decide on ‘A’ over ‘B’ options. What I love most about this process is that your decision comes from a natural state.
#3. Seek Another Opinion
When you are not sure, always ask for other people’s opinions. Doing so will help affirm what your instinct is telling you and will surely help you to go ahead and make a firm decision. Sometimes, when we seek the proper counsel from the right people, we gain a cartload of wisdom from the tacit knowledge experience of the people we are consulting. Maybe, they have had the privilege of going through that particular situation that we are inquiring about and currently going through. Hence, we learn from their experience and then make an effective decision from there.
Seeking another opinion does not require you to call a crowd into the matter. It could be one or two persons that could help give you some insight into the issue. However, in some cases, three could help confirm your decision, especially if everything they are saying is in perfect synchrony. It could be a family member, friend, specialist, or higher authority in the area you seek insight into. The wisdom you gain seeking an opinion from others can allow you to make an effective decision.
#4. Your Value-Based
Sometimes, going with your gut instinct could be the key to making a practical decision. The fact is that your instincts align with your values and is most of the time correct. In “What Influences Your Decisions,” I mentioned that “What you highly believe in is what would drive your decisions and decisions built on your value system is very likely to be the best decisions you make.”
Sometimes you may not have the time to weigh the pros and cons or even have the time to sleep over it. In these instances, many concomitant actions may be hanging on you making that effective decision, especially if you are in a leadership role. Such a time is when you have a strong bias for action, and you are required to decide on the fly. So, let your value-based gut instinct do the work for you in such instances; you become a confident decision-maker by so doing.
The acronym stands for Do Your Own Research (DYOR). You’ve thought about it; you asked other people for their opinion on the matter; the next step is investing time and conducting some research. Yes, we said your value-based system/gut-feeling or intuition could be right most of the time. However, the fact is that we live in a world that is constantly evolving world and changing. There is a constant update to policies and laws regularly. You might land yourself in a wrong decision if you don’t take out time to do your own research.
Assuming you want to apply to a university to do a pharmacy course and perhaps your friend got into the same university the previous year. From then till now, things may have changed in the institution. So, without doing some of your current research, you may not be aware of some recent changes that the university has taken on that same course which may not favor you. So, it is essential to do your due diligence! Put in the time and do your research in other to make an effective decision.
#6. Digest It
“Digest it!” That’s right, “Digest it!” Ruminate over it. The digestion stage is the question or the waiting stage. After you’ve thought about it, slept through it, inquired from others, did your research, and you know what your instinct is telling you. Now, it is time to ask yourself if it feels right. If you are about to do the right thing? If it does feel right, then go ahead. Give yourself the green light to make an effective decision.
#7. Put Your Emotions Aside
Our emotions are an integral part of our decision-making process. The fact is that we don’t make the best decisions when our emotions are at play. Emotions affect our thinking and tend to motivate us to act quickly. However, in such a state, we may make rash decisions that don’t augur well at the end of the day. Have you ever decided on something in an emotional state of anger? If you have, I am sure you did later regret that decision, right?
As weird as it may sound, there are times that we also regret decisions that we make out of good emotions. For instance, if you bought that dress because you were feeling happy on that day. But later, due to buyer’s remorse, you now regret your actions because you now think that could put the money to better use on more critical needs. That’s how powerful our emotions come into play, so it is best to put them aside when you are about to decide on something big or small.
#8. Identify the Risks Involved
Acknowledging the risks involved before you decide will help you create a plan to mitigate those risks. One good factor about identifying the dangers is that it allows you to focus less on the consequences. Let’s face it—every decision you make will either make you happy or sad, but fearing those consequences will only push you farther away from making any decision at all. Nevertheless, you can mitigate the effects of ensuing risks via an effective risk management plan when you identify them earlier.
Developing a risk management plan consists of the following steps-identify, analyze, evaluate, and action. First, you must identify the risks involved. Second, analyze your options. Third, evaluate and plan out your strategy of attack. Fourth, act on your choices. By carrying out the steps of your risk management plan, you will make an effective decision in the long haul. Likewise, you can also eschew these risks with a creative project plan.
#9. Visualize Your Achievement Daily
There is power in visualization. Constantly picture in your mind how you will look once you’ve attained your set goal. For example, if you have ever dreamed of owning a coffee shop while putting in all the necessary efforts to set up your business or even still saving up some capital to commence the project, daily picture yourself in your shop. Picture yourself wearing your barista apron. Visualize yourself greeting your customers. Imagine yourself checking them out at the register. There is power in visualization.
The exercise may seem banal at best; however, in the words of Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze, “What you picture in your mind’s eye permeates the fabrics of the universe to become your reality.” This simple exercise increases your motivation and helps to keep you focused on your goal. The activity above also enables you to visualize pending decisions. It also allows you to weigh options on tackling those decisions when they become due. Imagining your achievements will let you make more effective decisions.
#10. Dedicated Effort
Decision-making without dedicating effort to achieve is a waste. Instead, do something every day that will bring you closer to your goal. For example, if you have decided to open a coffee shop, as I said earlier in an instance above, you need to take a step every day towards achieving that goal or dream. If the effort you are putting in is not working out the way you planned, then change your strategy until you reach the result you want. Every effort counts—so take action!
One more thing, in the process of putting effort to make effective decisions that will bring you closer to your goals, always remember Pareto’s Law. It states that “roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts.” As much as you can apply this law in a larger corporate setting, you can also apply it to yourself in the swat of your effective decision-making skills. Technically, via Pareto’s Law, “80% of your decision results come from 20% of the sum of all decisions you make that are effective.” Do you agree? I would like to hear your opinions in the comment section.
#11. Stay Committed
When you have finally arrived at a decision, you need to stay committed to it as you don’t want all your effort to waste. It is not enough to say, “I will lose ten pounds in three months.” Yet, you walk past the treadmill in your loft every day. Or you drink all the sodas that the store has to offer. You cannot say, ‘I will write a novel before I turn thirty,” and yet you cannot write the first line of your story plot. Or ‘I will own a coffee shop,” and yet you are doing nothing to actualize that dream.
For a decision to be effective and successful, there is a need for total commitment. Effective decision-making requires total commitment. It would be best if you were all in when you make that decision to see it through from the cradle to the grave. Total commitment is a requirement to ensure that decision-making becomes effectual. It is the carabiner that connects effective decision-making to the success that ensues from making such choices. But, then, you must stick with it, persevering while working to make sure it pans out to be successful.
We make a ton of decisions daily. The essence of this piece is to ensure that we hone our skills in the art of effective decision-making, which, to be honest, can be challenging at times. Effective decision-making is the sprockets that answer the questions of who, what, when, why, where, and why? For our decisions to be effective, what do we do? First, we saw that we need to think the process through. Second, we need to sleep it through and make our choices in a calm state of mind. Third, we can seek the opinion of others. Fourth, we can make effective decisions via our gut instincts. Fifth, we need to do our due diligence by doing our research.
“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.” — Maimonides.
Sixth, digest it—take your time to contemplate over it repetitively before committing to a choice. In the words of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, “Think 100 times before you take a decision, but once that decision is taken, stand by it as one man.” The “thinking” is the digestion process. Seventh, put your emotions aside and then decide. Eighth, identify the risks involved—develop a plan to mitigate or eschew them. Ninth, visualize your achievement daily—that will channel your decisions towards your dreams. Tenth, put in your very best effort when you commit to a choice. Finally, stay the course after you commit to a decision. Do these, and you will be on the right path towards making effective decisions.