Decide to Decide! Learn to Become a Master Decision Maker
Written by Lisa Montanaro | October 18, 2012

We make decisions every day — some trivial and some very important. Stop and ask yourself if you generally have issues with making these decisions. Do you fret over them? Does the idea or reality of making decisions freak you out? Well, if so, Decide to Decide!
Becoming adept at decision making is one of the most useful skills you can learn. It can purposefully influence your life and business. People that are quick and efficient decision makers appear more powerful and demand more respect. Constant wavering can make you look like a flake, or worse, can hold you back from achieving your own power or success, or stepping into a bigger place that you need to step into in order to be a true leader.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the term decide as “to arrive at a solution that ends uncertainty; to induce to come to a choice; to make a choice.” Thus, to decide embodies an active process of change. It requires that you take responsibility and own it. Not making a decision is inactive or passive, whereas making the wrong decision means you took action, but did not like the results or the results were not satisfactory, acceptable or successful.

People are so afraid of making a mistake that they allow inaction or passivity to take over. Yes, we need to do research or due diligence to make sure that we have done our “homework” but at some point, we have to trust that we have enough information to make an informed, intelligent decision. Here are some guidelines to help you Decide to Decide!

Find the Fear

Determine what your fears are around decision-making. Is it fear of what others think? Is it fear of making the wrong decision? It is fear of taking a certain path and owning it, as in fear of commitment? Ask yourself, what will happen if I make this decision and it winds up being the wrong one? Is it life or death (it almost never is!)? Can I course correct and change paths later on?

Start Small

Start exercising your decision-making muscles so you can experience what it feels like to make a decision and own it. To begin making decisions swiftly, practice with low risk choices and pare down either your options or your allotted time.

Change Your Perspective

Build confidence and trust, and know that if you don’t make a decision, you won’t be growing and moving forward. Put things in perspective. Don’t focus only on what you are running away from or losing, but also focus on what you are running towards or gaining.

Trust Your Gut

Intuition can play a big role in decision making! You have to trust your gut, and measure how your feelings play into the decision. Expert decision makers tend to trust their instincts in situations where past experience has proven that they make the right call. Experts call this “automated expertise” and it means that the areas in which you have a positive track record are the ones in which you’re likely to succeed. So, that would involve looking at your past accomplishments and trusting that you tend to steer yourself in the right direction. People who are successful decision makers typically align their reasoning with their ultimate life (or business) plan or vision. Does this decision fit into your purpose, passion, and overall vision? Does it match your values?

Test Your Decision

There are exercises that you can do to test if you are making a sound decision. Here are a few that may help you: envision yourself making the decision and see and how that feels; journal about the decision; create a Vision Board around the decision; make the decision a “pie” that you slice up based on all that goes into the decision and weigh each piece; make a pro and cons list; or choose a deadline to decide by. The way you test you decision is less important as the fact that you are testing it in the first place.

Seek Just Enough Advice

People that tend to obsess over things and over-analyze often have a hard time making decisions as they don’t know when is the “right” time to close the door on the analysis phase. Ask trusted family, friends, colleagues and coaches for their advice (as long as they don’t have their own agenda!). People with confidence enlist the help of others, but they’re also savvy enough to put a limit on their opinion seeking, since endless input isn’t likely to help them achieve their goals. People who make smart decisions don’t waste too much time worrying about making the absolute best choice. Done is better than perfect! At some point, good enough is good enough even if you have high standards.

Learning to feel comfortable with your decisions means accepting a measure of uncertainty — you can never know the full impact of a decision until after you’ve made it. So affirm for yourself: I did all of the research; I can’t think of anything I’ve overlooked; this is the best I can do with the information that I have. If you make a decision that turns out not to have been a good one, learn from it, grow, and move on!

Meet the Author

Helping others be the best versions of themselves gets me jazzed!

I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime—often at the same time—while enjoying fulfilling careers. I’ve been a performer, teacher, sign language instructor, lawyer, career counselor, law professor, coach, consultant, mediator, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, writer, and author. 

I’m an eternal optimist and life-long learner, constantly researching ways to improve personal and professional effectiveness. And it brings me great joy to then pass on the results of that persistent curiosity to my clients and audiences. 

Of all the career hats I’ve been privileged to wear, my favorite is owner of this business since 2002. Why? Because it provides me the opportunity to work with wonderful organizational and individual clients. On any given day, I get to connect deeply with audiences, work with dedicated teams, improve workplaces, watch clients have a-ha moments, and know I’ve made a difference in their lives and careers. And that is very satisfying.