Effective decision making is one of the secrets to a more enjoyable and satisfying life. Here is a proven 11-step process for mastering the art of decision-making and thereby enhancing the quality of your life.
1. Decide what you are aiming to accomplish.
Getting a clarity on the desired outcome is the first step to a smoother decision making process. What is the end result that you are hoping for?
- Maximize your income?
- Strengthen your relationship?
- Minimize the financial or emotional cost?
- Advance your career?
2. Make a list of your resources.
What resources do you possess that are applicable to following through on your possible options? Imagine you had to undertake renovation for your house. You would determine which tools you have available for the job and then make a plan based upon those available resources.
3. Brainstorm possible choices.
Make a long list of all the choices or options available to you. A better way to do this would be using the technique of mind mapping. An important aspect to note at this stage is to avoid judging your options too quickly. This is the step of idea generation. Do not mix this with idea evaluation. You can evaluate these options later.
4. Consider the odds of success.
For each idea, choice or option generated above, consider the odds of success. At this stage, you can discard the solutions which stand a lower chance of success.
5. Consider the time and money involved.
In addition to the resources you have already identified, weigh the choices with the resources that would be needed. A quick mental cost-benefit exercise will help to evaluate the options better.
6. What are the risks?
Assess the possibilities of what could go wrong and what are the ramifications of each option.
7. Is the upside worth the risk?
Some options are riskier than others, but the greater potential rewards are often worth the extra risk. Assess how much do you stand to gain.
8. What are the long-term implications?
Consider the consequences of each option beyond just the short term obvious scenarios. Who will be affected by your decision? What does your decision mean 10 years from now? What will you gain and sacrifice in the long-term?
9. Can you trust yourself to follow through?
A good decision that you can’t complete is no better than a poor decision or no decision at all. Sometimes the solution with the best likely outcome is too challenging to implement. Do you have the skills and the stamina to follow through?
10. Keep your values in mind.
Many options could be unacceptable due to your values. Keep your values in mind and you’ll be less likely to regret your decision later. Know what’s important to you.
11. Avoid taking too much time to make a solution.
There have been several studies on the differences between “satisficers” and “maximizers”.
- A satisficer looks for the quickest, easiest solution that meets their criteria. That doesn’t mean they settle. It means that they accept the first solution that satisfies their needs and run with it.
- A maximizer continues searching until the best possible solution is found.
Studies consistently show that satisficers are more successful and happier than maximizers. Avoid spending more time than necessary searching for a solution.
The most successful people make wise decisions, decide quickly, and follow through. Improving the quality and speed of your decisions may be the fastest path to a more satisfying life.
Making good decisions is important. Most challenges in life could have been avoided with wiser decisions. Most people take too much time to make decisions and they make decisions poorly. And, even worse, the surest way to ensure that you never make any progress is to never make any decisions.
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