I admit, I used to struggle with making decisions. Before I’d arrive at a choice, I’d overthink and analyze every possibility to the point of paralysis. My indecisiveness would always get me stuck. Inevitably, I knew that I’d have to make a choice, but I’d fail to move forward because of fear. And these fears would take various shapes and forms—fear of failure, fear of criticism, and fear of not covering all bases, to name a few.
Undoubtedly, being decisive is a vital life skill. While it is healthy to pause and think before making decisions, I have learned that dwelling too much on fear stops me from achieving the goals I have set for myself. Yes, decision deadlocks still happen, but I have discovered ways to curb my indecisiveness. Here are eight tips on how to be more decisive.
1. Consider Your Goals Long-Term
Forethought or forward-thinking is helpful for me to anticipate the instances when I have to make big decisions. This is closely tied with the goals that I have set for myself. Being decisive boils down to knowing what I want to achieve down the road. Thus, I am inclined to choose the option that contributes to a bigger goal.
2. Be Informed – Knowledge is Power
Gathering as much information as I can about the situation is another tip on how to be more decisive. Knowing as much as I can about the problem at hand has helped me make informed decisions. Trying to decide without checking the facts only fuels anxiety.
3. Remove the Emotion
Making a decision requires emotional distance. I try to be as objective as possible when making decisions. I focus by making a list of pros and cons of a certain choice. I have learned that being frustrated or emotional is a path away from being decisive.
4. Practice Makes Progress
Like any other skill, learning how to be more decisive requires practice. I practiced by making quick, small decisions and learned not to sweat the small stuff. Research shows that an average person makes up to 35,000 decisions—mostly inconsequential choices—every day. That’s a lot of opportunities to practice making quick and minor decisions.
5. Avoid the Need for Perfection
I gave up the quest for perfection. As human beings, there will always be blind spots and errors. Aiming for perfection makes us more indecisive. We can only modify, learn, and adapt as we go along the way. I have learned how to be more decisive by looking back on my previous decisions, especially the bad ones.
6. Follow Your Gut
“Gut instinct” or intuition is a quality that separates humans from other species. There will be moments when we will not have the luxury of time. Tapping on my instincts have helped me save mental energy when making quick decisions. I have learned to make decisions on the fly by trusting my intuition.
7. Sleep On It
When all else fails, I sleep on it. I let it stew and make a decision after I have fully rested. When we sleep, the unconscious part of our brain takes over. There may be things that we may have missed during conscious deliberation due to decision fatigue. Studies also show that sleep helps reorganize memories, facts, and details in unconventionally. Thus, sleeping on it, for at least a night, can help in making better decisions.
8. Give Yourself a Deadline
I have learned to respect my own time by setting deadlines when making a decision. I keep in mind that, whether I like it or not, I am bound to make a choice. By delaying my decision, I am not only impeding myself from learning how to be more decisive, but I also deny myself the opportunity to move forward.
At times, I wish that I could settle my decision deadlocks by merely flipping a coin. Whether the coin lands on heads or tails, the randomness of my choice will not have much impact on my life. But the truth is there are decisions in life that need more thorough reflection. Luckily, through experiences, I have learned how to strike a balance in making thoughtful yet timely decisions.