Every day, every person makes close to 20,000 decisions - in most cases without giving them much thought. What do I wear to work today? Do I drink my coffee with or without milk? Such small decisions shape our entire daily routine. You make them purely intuitively.
When it comes to decision-making, however, this usually refers to the big questions of life, such as the choice of career and partner or financial investments. The more far-reaching the possible consequences for our lives, the more difficult it is for us to make a decision. After all, making a decision always involves a certain amount of risk.
There's nothing wrong with considering difficult issues thoroughly and taking your time before making a choice. However, many people tend to spend too long mulling over the various options. You may miss important opportunities. In the following, we would like to give you a guide on how you can make faster and better decisions.
Making decisions can be learned
Making decisions is a matter of practice: the more often you do it, the more routine you become. Instead of avoiding difficult topics, you should consciously put yourself in situations where a decision is required. You could also call it confrontation therapy. From decision to decision, you will become more self-confident, so that at some point it will no longer be difficult for you.
It is also important to know that there are no universal right and wrong decisions. It always depends on the personal perspective. So instead of asking yourself whether the decision is right, you should clarify whether it is for you is correct. That's what matters in the end! This aspect is essential if you want to learn to make decisions.
An insightful scientific paper on the topic of value-based decisions can be found at here.
In addition, a common cause of indecisiveness is a lack of Self-confidence. Those who don't trust themselves to make decisions are right. Keyword: self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don't Strengthens self-confidence (e.g. with the help of therapy), you will automatically find it easier to make choices in life. You have the ability to make the right choice for you.
Why is it so hard for me to make decisions?
We are often spoiled for choice and therefore cannot decide. Nowadays, numerous options are open to us in almost every area of life: For example, there are diverse job profiles and career opportunities. It's also no longer necessary to start a family in the traditional way. As great as all the different choices are, they make it difficult for us to make a decision.
A commitment to one option ultimately means a rejection of all other options. This stirs up fears of loss and failure: What if I have made the wrong decision after all? This question can be very stressful and also paralyzing. The fear of doing something wrong ultimately prevents you from taking action.
This inevitably leads to your self-determination slipping away. Because no decision is also a decision: At some point, time or other people will take the choice away from you. By procrastinating too long, you lose your influence over the situation. Depending on what the situation is, this may certainly not be in your best interest.
Empirical values play a role
Some decisions are harder for you than others. This phenomenon is familiar to everyone. The reason for this is quite simple: When we make decisions, we refer to accumulated experience values that are stored in our memory. Of course, these experiences vary from person to person.
A decision that is easy for you can drive your neighbor to the proverbial brink of despair. The more similar decisions you have already had to make in the past, the less problems it causes you. A kind of "decision self-awareness" develops. We've mentioned it before: the best way to learn to make decisions is to do it several times.
Of course, it is also crucial whether the result of your decisions was positive or negative. Positive results encourage you to continue on your course. Negative consequences of a decision, however, also have an important learning effect: next time, you will know which mistakes to avoid.
Making decisions: 5 important basic rules
Being able to make confident decisions is a learning process. The following tips can support you in this process:
Define your goals: What do you want to achieve with this decision?
Call decisions changes out. In order to make the right choices, you should ask yourself what kind of change you hope to see. What need is currently unmet? What do you want to improve as a result of the decision? What emotions play a role? How does the decision affect your environment and your future?
Hardly anyone makes their decisions completely rationally. Emotions are almost always involved in the decision-making process. There are decisions made out of love, out of hate, out of revenge, out of a sense of duty, out of fear and, of course, out of despair. Surely you are aware that the negative emotions just enumerated none are good advisors!
However, you can use it as a guide: If you feel that you are leaning toward a decision to harm someone, that decision may not be right. Always stay with yourself and your needs!
2. initiate other people into your plans
A change of perspective is always useful when it comes to important decisions. It is not uncommon for people to develop tunnel vision themselves, which leaves out the essential points of view. That's why it can be useful to talk to people you know before you make a decision.
Important: The different perspectives should broaden your horizons. Nevertheless, don't let the decision be taken out of your hands.
3. there is not only black and white
When you are faced with a decision, you may only see two options at first: Either you decide for or against something. This radical step fuels the fear of failure already mentioned. If the other option turns out to be more advantageous, you may regret your choice. It is only natural that you Disappointment you want to spare.
In most cases, it is not even necessary to consistently reject or endorse an option: In many cases - though not always - there is a gray area between the two extremes. A Plan C, so to speak. Creating one requires some time and effort, but it's worth it.
Example: Creative writing is your passion and you are determined to make a living selling your novels. If this doesn't work out, your only option would be to return to your teaching job, which doesn't fulfill you. So you would have to decide against writing to secure your livelihood. Or you could decide to write, but accept poverty.
Stop! There may be another option: If your creative works don't sell enough, you could use your passion for writing in another way. For example, how about writing editorial copy for a newspaper or working as a freelance copywriter? This way, a compromise between the two options would be found.
4. wrong decisions are not the end of the world
Wrong decisions are part of life. There is no person who has never made a wrong decision. Most of the time, it only turns out afterwards that another option would have been more advantageous. Especially after serious wrong decisions it can happen that you start to doubt yourself. However, this makes little sense in the long run.
A wrong decision, no matter how serious it may have been, does not mean that you have no decision-making authority. You should always be aware of that! You did what felt right for you at that moment.
You can even use bad decisions positively by analyzing them - either alone or with therapeutic support if needed.
5. set yourself a time limit
When making difficult decisions, there is a growing danger that you will let so much time pass before someone takes the decision away from you. For this reason, you should set a realistic time limit for making your decision. If other people are involved, inform them of the deadline: "I need some time to think it over. I will let you know my decision by next Friday."
Wait a minute, you may be thinking. Aren't most bad decisions made under time pressure? This is true, but it mainly applies to external pressure. However, you set yourself this deadline in a self-determined manner and in accordance with the situation. In this way, the time limit can even motivate you.
An interesting scientific elaboration on the subject Time Management can be found in the linked article.
6 practical methods to make decisions more easily
The above tips for decision making were mostly mental in nature. However, it helps many people to additionally apply practical methods to facilitate decision making:
1. the pro-contra list
The pro-con list is the undisputed classic among decision-making tools. The method is very simple: You write down all arguments for or against a decision. The visualization helps you to make decisions more easily.
2. the Benjamin Franklin list
In the Benjamin Franklin list, you focus exclusively on the pro arguments. This method is suitable for use after the pro-contra list. Now you evaluate the individual pro-arguments with school grades. The sole use of the Benjamin Franklin list is less recommended, since possible negative aspects remain completely unnoticed.
3. the decision matrix
A little complex, but very effective is the decision matrix. Here you enter all decision options next to each other in longitudinal columns. In the transverse columns, you list the criteria that are of essential importance to you in the decision-making process. Now you rate the options according to the criteria on a scale from 1 to 10. The decision option with the highest score wins.
4. decision mind map
Children already learn how to create mind maps in school lessons. This method is also very popular in later (professional) life. So why shouldn't you use it to make decisions more easily?
The focus of the mind map is the planned decision, e.g. a move, a job change or the Separation from the partner. Branches branch off from the decision, leading to possible alternatives. Starting from these alternatives, further branches follow, which show the pro and contra arguments.
5. making decisions with the 10-10-10 method
It doesn't always have to be complex and elaborate methods in writing. Sometimes it only takes a simple (temporal) change of perspective to make you make decisions more easily can. The 10-10-10 method is particularly well-known and popular. Answer the following questions in writing:
- What impact will my decision have in 10 minutes?
- What will it look like in 10 months?
- What impact will my decision have in 10 years?
With the help of this method, you can become aware of the far-reaching consequences of your decision. Not everything that feels good today will have a positive effect in the future. Sometimes the opposite is true.
6. decision questions
Before you make a decision, answer the following questions in writing:
- What do I want to achieve with the decision now and in the future?
- What does my mind say?
- Your gut feeling - what does it tell you?
- Have I checked all other options?
- Am I being honest with myself about the impact I hope to have?
- Am I aware of the (long-term) effects of my decision? What are they?
Strengthen your self-confidence
As you now know, self-confidence and decision-making go hand in hand. To make good decisions, you must believe in your own inner strength. Sometimes this requires external impulses. Therefore we would like to give you our self coaching course to the heart. We'll show you how to break through old behavior patterns and become more confident.
Do the same unpleasant situations happen to you again and again in everyday life and at work? Do you see a pattern in the bad decisions you've made so far? Then our course is just right for you. Learn to understand that your inner attitude has a big impact on your daily life. This also applies to the way you make decisions.
Our course includes seven self-coaching lessons, reflection questions, practical exercises, and meditations that will bring you inner balance. Do you want to be in your Change life a little? Then sign up today!