How to Be More Decisive
This article will teach you how to be more decisive and is the second article of a 3 part series that includes setting goals, making decisions, and taking action. These are the 3 keys to achieve just about anything in life and should not be missed.
This article will cover the several steps and tricks on how to be more decisive and teach you to become the leader you always wanted to be.
It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of a large company or just looking to take charge of your own life. Having the ability to make decisions and follow them through is critical to every type of success.
Trinity of Success
Every successful person knows the trinity of Success: Setting Goals, Making Decisions, and Taking Action. With these 3 skills ingrained in your character, you will be able to accomplish anything and you will be living the life of your dreams in no time.
The first part is setting the right goals. You need to know what you want in life if you will have any hope in making the right decisions in reaching your dreams.
This requires making really important decisions and often is the number one reason why people get stuck in one place. They fail to make simple decisions on what goals they want to set in life.
Most people get stuck in second guessing if their goals are the right ones and never make past phase 1. I created a separate article just on this topic and hope you take the time to read it.
The second key to the trinity of success is making the right decisions.
That is what this article is about and will teach you the difference between good and great decisions.
It will help you get unstuck in analysis and show you tricks to make decisions that will improve your life.
The third part of the trinity of success is taking action. This is probably the hardest pat of the 3 but all are equally important. I discuss how to take action in my articles called Top 8 Rules for Driving Action into Success .
Why are Some People Prone to Indecision?
The most common reason most people are indecisive is simply they have a fear of failure.
No one wants to fail at anything but failure is a critical part of success. Everyone fails most of the time, its what you do after a failure that truly determines the results.
I personally feel a persons lack of purpose is another extremely high reason for not having the ability to make decisions.
Your purpose provides the motivation for your goals in life. When you have goals, you have direction, and direction is the main ingredient in making good decisions.
Here is my list of several other reasons why people are indecisive. How many relate to your life?
- Lack of purpose
- Fear of Taking Responsibility
- Distracted and lack of focus
- Over analyzing looking for the perfect solution
- Lack of Experience
- Having Countless Choices
Great news, you can overcome being indecisive and start making good decisions today. Lets talk about how.
How to be More Decisive
Before making any decision, you need to have some guiding principles in place first. These principles are your compass or guiding light in making every decision in your life.
- Understand Your Core Values
- Know Your Life Purpose
- Set Your SMART Goals
- Decide Your Priorities
Some of these are major life questions and most people give up right here. They get stuck wondering what they want to do with their life.
This is why most people remain indecisive their whole life. It is because they fail to understand themselves and what they want in life.
Please understand that these principles change over time and you should revisit your list to make sure it still reflects who you are as often as needed.
As you grow, your purpose and values will change. When they change, so will your goals and priorities.
This is normal and as you mature, your purpose and values constantly change. Become more agile and adapt as you move through life.
Lets take a look at each principle in detail.
Your Core Values
Your core values are closely tied to your life purpose. This is simply a list of things you value most in life. Do you value family, honesty, integrity, discipline?
Create a list of what you value most in life and order them in importance. Be honest with yourself and learn what makes you tick.
“Clarity is king. When you know who you are, what your values are, what you stand for and where you’re headed, being decisive is simple, even easy.” Chad Howse
This is simply a general direction for your life and what you want to accomplish in the limited time we have.
Everyone is different. Some people want to have wealth, some want to serve, some want glory, others respect, and some want to constantly grow and learn.
Picture yourself at the end of your life and what accomplishments would you value the most. Fine tune it until it feels right and this is the direction you want your life to take.
Once you know what you want in life, we need to set specific SMART goals to achieve them.
You goals need to be specific. Very specific!
We never say we want to lose weight or be healthy. We say we want to weigh 150 pounds or have our body fat below 13%.
What are SMART goals? Here is a simple summary.
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Assignable – specify who will do it.
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Life is crazy and there are constantly new things always competing for your time and energy. This is where your priority list comes in.
When you are getting multiple goals competing for your attention, you compare them to your priority list and make decisions based on what you already decided is most important.
Priorities change all the time and you need to make adjustments constantly but always know ahead of time what your priorities are in a given day, week, month, or year.
This makes deciding between competing goals much easier. You are just deciding right now, one priority is more important then the other, and acting accordingly.
Good decision making is a skill that can be learned and improved through practice and knowledge. Set yourself up for success by creating your priorities and displaying them somewhere to make sure you stay on track.
Tips on How to be More Decisive
The skill to making decisions is not something people are born with. It is a skill learned throughout life and can easily be developed and tuned.
Here are some tips to help you develop your decision making skill.
These are easy to do and simply put, the more you can incorporate into your life, the better you will get at making decisions.
Convert Decisions into Habits
This one is backed by science. We have a limited amount of willpower and know that making decisions towards the end of our day is harder then decisions early in the day.
Simply make your most important decisions early in the day.
You can also take the decision making out of decisions.
It is very easy to build habits around everyday decisions to automate actions.
If task B always follows task A, then you never have to decide when or if to do task B.
This is where a lot of diets break down. After dinner, we often reach for that tasty desert or glass of wine because we no longer have the will power to stick to our diet.
If you convert simple decisions into habits, then you take the possibility of failure out of your action.
If you want to avoid that glass of wine after dinner, then every night after dinner (task A), drive to the park to take a walk (Task B). Make this a habit and avoid having to make the decision of if you should have wine after dinner. This bad habit (wine drinking) will soon be replaced with a healthy habit (walking in the park).
Begin with the End in Mind
Knowing what you want the outcome to be is critical to any decision. Picture the outcome.
Set and review your long-term vision and goals when faced with any decision and simply pick the one that best supports the outcome you pictured. The picture of you achieving your goals and life purpose.
Also consider the importance of the outcome. If you are wondering what flavor of tea to drink, the outcome doesn’t matter towards your life goals and is irrelevant to your long term plans.
These decisions should not require any thought and a quick pick is all that is needed.
Realize that No Decision is also a Decision
Most people know this but you also need to know that sometimes no decision could very well be the right decision.
We are all overwhelmed with too many decisions everyday and should only focus on the ones that matter to our life purpose and goals.
Any decision that doesn’t support those goals get thrown away. No decision needed.
If a decision is needed on something that does impact your goals and purpose but you are stuck and cannot decide, then realize by not making a clear decision, you are in fact not making any decision.
This could very well take the control of the situation out of your hands and push you further way from your dreams.
Decide and take action.
Give Yourself a Deadline
Decisions are all about collecting information, analyzing possible solutions, and choosing the best answer to support your desired outcome.
Researching each option and working out possible outcomes will take a bunch of time and rarely provide useful data to making the correct decision.
This is why you need to set a time limit for a decision. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis.
For most decisions, you should be able to make your decision in under 10 minutes. Set a deadline that makes sense and honor it.
Get All the Information You Need to Make a Good (but not Perfect) Decision
In order to make good decisions, you need information on the inputs and possible outcomes.
It’s unlikely you’ll get enough meaningful information to make the perfect decision. This is very normal. Using information is one important way to view a problem, but on its own, it isn’t sufficient.
Take the information you have today and make a decision.
If you have time before you need to take action, then you can change your decision if you get additional information but you must make the best decision with the information you have on hand today.
Respect your deadline.
Create a Pro and Con List
Creating a pro/con list is very common and done by a lot of people when trying to decide between 2 options.
Write down the pros and cons for each option and decide which fit better into your goals and desired outcome best.
The important thing to do here is write the list down somewhere.
When you write and then review the list, your mind usually takes your emotions out of the decision and you can deal with just the facts.
Good facts make better decisions.
A pros-and-cons list is useful only as a very high-level preliminary thinking aid.
In other words, its great for the first step of narrowing down an answer but not usually helpful for life’s major questions. For those, I use the 8/8/8 rule.
Warren Buffet 8/8/8 Rule
I love the Warren Buffet 8/8/8 rule. To use it, you simply ask yourself 3 simple questions when deciding on something.
How will I feel about this decision in 8 minutes.
How will I feel about this decision in 8 months.
How will I feel about this decision in 8 years.
This rule alone has increase my ability to make great decisions very quickly by understanding the true impact of my decision.
Questions that need an answer can quickly be determined if they are relevant to my long term happiness or short term happiness.
All decisions have costs and you need to balance both your long and short term happiness when making everyday decisions.
You need to make sure you are able to reach your long term goals without sacrificing too much of your short term happiness.
This rule helps tremendously with this desire to balance happiness today with happiness tomorrow..
Trust Your Gut and Learn to Listen to Your Instincts
This is probably the most important tool you have to making decisions. Trust in your gut when making decisions.
Many times your instinct will nudge you one way over another and you need to be mindful to yourself when this happens.
Be careful! You must be able to distinguish the differences between the 2 main parts of your brain when trusting your gut. The pleasure and reasoning sections.
You must be able to tell the difference between your instinct or gut feeling vs your desire or logic impulses. If not, you could be easily listening to the wrong thing.
The Science of Decision Making
When making decisions, your brain is applying 3 different controls to your thoughts.
Robot, unconscious programming due to past experiences.
Motor, emotional decision making based on present feelings.
Thinker, this has the reasoning and foresight be the basis of our choices.
Here is a cool TEDx talk about the different parts of your brain and how it debates decisions in your life.
The video simply summarize the science behind your brain in the decision process.
Your brain is always debating between taking pleasure now or planning for pleasure later.
In addition, your robot brain is always applying an interpretation to your current view of any situation and often doesn’t let you see it as it truly is.
This is why decisions are often very difficult for some people. Decisions are simple when you need to apply personal feelings, emotional filters, past experiences, and different future outcomes to every decision you make.
The best way to resolve this is simply to cut out all that extra processing when its not needed.
Some decisions require emotional input, some logic, and some require your past experiences to weigh in the most.
Its up to you to apply the right reasoning for the right questions and decisions.
After Decision, Take Action
No decision is made until action is taken.
The decision to start is often the biggest key for any success, so never waste a great decision by not taking action after.
I created a separate article about how to take action after a decision and you can read the article here.
Review, Learn, and Improve: Never Regret
Take an agile approach to your decision. Agile is simply a way to apply constant improvements to anything in life by always reviewing, learning, and improving.
What does this really mean for your decisions. Decisions can very often be adjusted over time and improved along the way.
This is why decisions do not need to be perfect from the start.
Good enough is a great start.
Over time, you can make as many adjustments to your decisions as you need to focus on your goals and long term desired outcomes.
This is the way great goals are achieved.
If you make a bad decision (which happens a lot), learn from it and never repeat it. This is a great way to learn to make better decisions. Personal experiences play a he role in your ability to choose better decisions over time.
Also, never regret any decision you make. No matter how bad it was.
The only regrets you can have are the decisions and chances you didn’t take.
Those are your true failures, and you need to learn from them too.
In the past decade or so, researchers have begun to notice something they’re calling decision fatigue. This simply means the more decisions we have to make in a day, the less likely we are to do a good job of making them.
This is due to many reasons like too many choices and too much information being delivered and processed by us everyday.
It is clear in the modern world, to be successful, we need to learn how to be more decisive.
“Success isn’t something you can pursue, it must ensue. It must happen. You do not pursue that man you want to become, you become him. You do not pursue decisiveness, you become more decisive.” Chad Howse
Make the decision right now to be more decisive and take action to improve this skill. Make decisions, no procrastinating, just do it, and take action on your decisions.
Do this and you can watch your world quickly change around you.