No matter what role we are in, leader, stakeholder, friend, sibling or parent we make multiple decisions on a day-to-day basis. When you factor in new experiences, challenges and relationships, the number of decisions increases along with an increased focus on the need to make those decisions well. So how do you do it, how do you make every decision as well as you can every time?
Making the right decision is a skill, and not an innate one. It has a method underlying it, one that must be learned and tried (and failed) in order for us to get good at it. Decision-making methodology doesn’t sit comfortably in only our professional or personal lives, we make good decisions about which contractors to hire to fix our homes in the same way that we make good personnel hires in our professional roles.
The method begins with an inquisition about our options:
Does this option meet the need it is selected to meet without unpredictable repercussions?
Asking ourselves this question allows us to not only contextualise each of our options for the present when we’re making our decision but how it is likely to play out in the future. Nobody expects you to be clairvoyant, the future life of a decision is not always predictable, but you can safeguard, to some extent, by mentally modelling possible outcomes.
By assessing each option based on whether it meets needs now and in the future helps to mitigate option paralysis. By focusing on each option as a potential solution the usual digressions into “But what if there’s something better than this?” avenues of thinking are bypassed. Does this option work now, will it continue to work in future?
Your decisions never really stop being measured. As time passes, decisions are revisited by those around us, and by us if we’re undertaking a degree of self-analysis, measuring actual results against the intended outcomes.
Once we have assessed our options, it is time to assess our part in this process:
Does my decision represent honesty, intuitive trust and a desire for better?
Where the initial option question is about logic and intellect, this one is about our internal lives. When we choose to act it’s not just from a logical standpoint but an emotional one; true of both our professional and personal decisions. We are holding our decision to the same standards that we hold ourselves.
As with the options question, it also encapsulates a sense of linearity, but instead of forward-thinking, it asks us to look backwards. Is this decision an improvement over what we have now or had before?
If we are acting dishonestly, without trusting our intuition and settling for declining value, by what measure can this decision ever be considered a good one, let alone the right one?
Following this method is not guaranteed to perfect your decision making. There will always be factors that you can’t predict, events that were unexpected and sometimes you will have based your decision on somebody else’s bad decision. When you periodically evaluate your decisions, emotional honesty is as important as intellectual fact. You will learn more from consideration and interpolation of the decisions you made that went awry, than those that went according to plan.
Following this method consistently, evaluating the results with honesty and attentiveness will allow you to make the best decision possible each time and to better understand the times when your decisions do not turn out as you expected.
If you’d like to know more please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.