“You can assess the quality of your decision by the quality of life resulting from the decision” (Anon)
No one makes the right decision every time, but by developing your decision-making skills, you can increase your success rate. We use our decision-making skills to solve problems by selecting one course of action from several possible alternatives. Decision-making is a key component of time management skills.
Almost any decision involves some conflicts or dissatisfaction. The difficult part is to pick a solution that will ensure a positive outcome. Avoiding decisions often seems easier. Yet, making your own decisions and accepting the consequences is the only way to stay in control of your time, your success, and your life.
A significant part of decision-making skills is in knowing and practicing good decision-making techniques. Follow these 9 simple decision-making steps:
- Identify the purpose of your decision. What exactly is the problem to be solved? Why should it be solved?
- Gather information. What are the facts?
- Identify the standards and criteria that the solution should meet.
- Brainstorm and list different possible choices. Generate ideas for possible solutions.
- Evaluate each choice in terms of its consequences. Use your standards and criteria to determine the pros and cons of each alternative.
- Determine the best alternative. This is much easier after you have gone through the above preparation steps.
- Put the decision into action. Transform your decision into specific plan-of-action steps.
- Execute your plan.
- Evaluate the outcome of your decision and action taken. What lessons can be learnt? This is an important step for further development of your decision-making skills.
We often have to make decisions fast, without enough time to systematically go through the above steps. In such situations the most effective decision-making strategy is to keep an eye on your goals and objectives and then let your intuition suggest the right choice.
Some Decision-Making Dos and Don’ts
- Be honest in identifying the problems, setting goals and priorities, evaluating information, etc.
- Accept the responsibility for making decisions, in your life and at work.
- Use time wisely when you make decisions. Take as much time as possible without procrastinating or creating more problems.
- Have confidence in your ability to make good decisions – and to learn from mistakes.
- Have unrealistic expectations for yourself – you’re bound to make the wrong decision sooner or later.
- Make “snap’ decisions unless absolutely necessary.
- Take unnecessary action when the best course of action is to do nothing.
- Fool yourself by choosing solutions that are easy and safe – but fail to address the problem.
Making a decision is easy – but making the right one requires skill and knowledge.
What if I make a wrong decision?
Mistakes can be the best teachers – use them to your advantage. Find out what went wrong, and put this information to work in your future decisions.
What if I must make a snap decision?
By using the above 9-step method when you have enough time, you’ll build the “feel” for decision-making that will help you make better snap decisions, too.
Why take the risk of making a tough decision?
Avoiding decisions may seem easier at times, but making your own decisions is the only way to take charge of your life – and your success.
By Elsabé Manning