We’ve all been there, standing at a crossroad between two hard decisions. What if I go this way? What if I go that way? Making decisions is hard, whether they’re big or small ones. It’s amazing that we do it every day. However, sometimes we spend unreasonable amounts of time trying to figure out what the best course would be. Sometimes there’s no “right” answer. Still, to overcome indecisiveness and improve decision making is a hard process.
Try to remember a decision you spent a lot of time making. What were your options? What was your thought process? How did you try to analyze your situation? What made your decision so hard to make? In the end, which one did you choose and why? These questions are easy to answer, but have complicated answers. Before we can improve your skills, let’s get to the bottom of it to overcome indecisiveness.
Why Are People Indecisive?
Imagine being asked something as simple as “Where do you want to go tonight?” While many people may have an immediate answer, others might spend minutes thinking about it. Sometimes people might not even be able to make a decision at all. Yet, it’s such a simple question. So, it would make sense to answer it within a few minutes at the most, right? Not really.
People are naturally indecisive. They ask themselves “Will I regret this decision?” whenever they’re have hard decisions to make. This kind of indecisiveness can cause problems in people’s own lives and their relationships. So why is it hard to choose simple things like where to go, what to eat, what to wear, or which color looks good on you?
There’s too many to choose from!
When the choices are vast, it can feel intimidating. We want to consider every choice, yet limit it to a few so that choosing doesn’t take so much time. Choosing somewhere to go or what to eat is hard because if you’re not the kind of person who craves certain things, you might spend too much time considering each option.
I’m not too sure…
There’s the matter of uncertainty. Not all situations are clear when we’re given options. Sometimes, not all the necessary information is immediately given or accessible. That makes decisions harder to make. When there’s uncertainty, there’s always risk involved and no one likes too much risk.
It didn’t work last time
Another reason is that there might be some anxiety or doubt related to the decision topic. For example, when the decision is something you made before and you regretted that decision, you might be worried you’d be making a mistake all over again. This can be a great cause of anxiety and some people would avoid having
I don’t know. What about you?
Another reason is because you might want to please the other person. No one wants to seem self-centered. So, a common response, even if you do have a choice in mind, would be to ask the person “I don’t know. Where would you like to go?” Then, it’ll end up becoming an endless game of exchanging the same question until a decision is made.
However, it doesn’t have tobe this way. There are always ways to improve decision making skills.
What Makes Good Decision Making?
Not all decisions are the “correct” ones. Sometimes you’ll find that any decision you make will have negative and positive consequences. As you weigh the benefits and risks of your options, you might wonder if it’s the “correct” one. However, you’re asking yourself the wrong question. Instead, try to think if you’re on the right direction in making a good decision. How do you know you’ll overcome indecisiveness? Here are the some signs to help improve decision making!
Know the circumstances surrounding the decision you’re about to make. When picking a place to eat, it’s best to know the likes and dislikes of the people you’re with. When choosing an outfit, be both practical and know what’s appropriate for wherever you’re going. As much as possible, don’t make decisions with only have the facts.
You’re not overthinking it
Sometimes the simplest thinking process is the best, especially in time-pressured circumstances. Know when you need to think fast versus when you need to take some time to consider your options.
You can and plan to follow-through
Commitment to your decision is important. However, in order to commit, it needs to be something feasible. Don’t make a decision without considered if you can actually do it. Consider your strengths and weaknesses when making decisions. Lastly, make sure it’s something you can take responsibility for.
You’re free of biases.
Always consider context when making decisions. While you can’t be completely free of biases when making them, you need to be aware of the ones that you often fall victim to. Try to clear your head before making decisions, but at the same time, don’t completely disregard how you feel or how others feel. Find that sweet balance between rationality and empathy.
You’re not dependent on the ideas of others
While getting a second or third opinion is useful, it’s better to mostly think for yourself. You might be prone to groupthink if you rely on people too much. Groupthink is when you make decisions to please others or to avoid confrontation with others. So don’t let the confirmation of others be the only defining factor. Being free from biases is one big step to improve decision making.
You feel slightly uncomfortable
Sometimes you might feel doubtful about your decision, especially when it’s a big decision. Many people feel this way, but they mistake it as making the wrong decision. Not all good decisions will make you feel comfortable. Usually, choices that feel uncomfortable are the ones that will help you grow.
The choice you made helps you in the long-run
You need to be able to look towards the future. Even if a decision sounds hard to make right now, you might want to consider if it has future benefits. Think of these choices as investments for the future despite the hardships it may cause in the short-run.
What Are Common Biases in Decision-Making?
Now that we’ve discussed how you could be doing it right, we need to talk about how you could be doing it wrong. Groupthink is one of the many biases that affect decision-making more often than it should. However, there are others that can also lead to bad decision making.
- Confirmation bias. This is when you want to make a decision and you ask others until you hear something that you want to hear. Even if there is evidence against your decision, you’ll only consider the ones that agree with what you want.
- Anchoring. This is the result of not knowing enough about your situation. It’s basing your decision on one piece of information. This is common with first impressions of people, but you need to acknowledge that there’s always more sides to a situation.
- Overconfidence. This is common in experts, especially self-proclaimed ones. While you may be an expert and confident in a specific topic, you still need to gather information. Overconfidence has been the downfall of many experts because it can give you a false sense of security and makes it harder for you to accept your shortcomings.
How Can We Overcome Indecisiveness?
Indecisiveness is more than a daily pet peeve. It can be something that has been a problem for a while. Are you someone who thinks they have trouble making decisions in general? Do you doubt your decisions often? Do you usually ask the opinions of others before you make a decision? How long does it take you to make minor decisions (what to eat, what to wear, etc.)? Many people have bad habits when they try to make decisions, so here are a few tools that might help you overcome indecisiveness.
Note that before you analyze your options, you need to get as much information as you can about the problem. It can seem tedious but it’s faster than going back and forth between your options. Remember than collecting info can significantly improve decision making
One of the fastest and simplest ways to make a decision is through this model. This is where you pick the most important aspect and make a decision based on that. For example, when you buy something, the most important thing you consider is price. In that case, you would simply end up buying the cheapest one, regardless of the packaging, quality, and other aspects of the product.
Additive Feature Model
This method is a bit lengthier than the previous one, but it’s more realistic. Not all decisions are simple enough to be judged by just one aspect. This tool considers the important features that you’re looking for in a choice. For example, when you’re buying something, instead of just considering the price, you also think of the brand, quality, and appearance of the packaging. List the important features, or goals, that you want. Then, rate your choices on a scale of 1 to 5. The choice with the highest rating is what you go with.
Process of Elimination
This one is relatively simple. If the option doesn’t fit into the criteria you want, you can immediately rule it out. The drawback of this method is that it doesn’t take into account that not all choices are perfect. Decisions in real life will have both good and bad outcomes, which makes eliminating choices a bit more complicated.
The Six Thinking Hats
If you have trouble viewing a problem from different angles, this method might be for you. Imagine you have six hats. When you put them on, you should start thinking about a specific perspective of the problem.
- The conductor’s hat: When you put this hat on, you’re trying to control your decision-making process. Ask yourself what your goals are. Organize the information you have. Plan your next steps from here.
- The creator’s hat: This hat represents brainstorming. Explore different ideas and the different outcomes from each one.
- The heart’s hat: When wearing this hat, you should focus on how you feel. Try not to rationalize your feelings, and think only about your emotions. Ask yourself how you feel now and what you want to feel after making a decision.
- The optimist’s hat: This hat focuses on the positive aspects of the problem. Think about the benefits your ideas have to offer. What can you gain from this situation and each decision you could make?
- The judge’s hat: When this hat is on, you need to be critical. Think about the risks and negative effects of your ideas. Where can things go wrong and how bad can it get?
- The detective’s hat: This hat represents the info-gathering process. Remember that the best decisions are the well-informed ones. Think about what info you need to make a decision and where to get it.
Pros and cons analysis
This is the most used form of analysis, and with good reason. It’s simple and easy for anyone to understand. The process may take time, but as you use this over time, you’ll learn to do it faster. First, write down your options. If there are too many, narrow it down to a few. Two to three should be fine.
Then, for each choice, write down its advantages and disadvantages. Rank each advantage on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being least important and 5 being the most important. Then, rank your disadvantages 1 to 5 with 1 being least acceptable and 5 being the most acceptable (meaning, you can live with that negative outcome).
Afterwards, you can subtract the scores of your cons and from the pros. Eliminate the choices with negative numbers, and keep those with positive ones. You can then either keep the positive choices, or simply choose the highest scoring option.
Despite all the calculations, make sure you consider emotional, social, and personal growth aspects to your pros and cons. While it may seem irrational to include feelings, the best decisions are those that consider the aspects that are important to you. That includes you in a holistic point of view.
You can mix and match these tools as you need to overcome indecisiveness and improve decision making. You can even tweak them to match your needs. Each tool works for specific kinds of situations. Some work for simple questions, while some are for more complex ones. What matters is that you keep an open mind when making decisions. It can seem difficult at first, but with enough practice, making decisions can be as easy as pie.