Be More Decisive in 2020

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This image shows a path through a forest to illustrate that a choice has to be made.
PC: Jens Lelie on Unsplash

Decisions, decisions. Some of us take seconds to make them while others take … longer. Add to that the insane smorgasbord of options for seemingly everything out there today. How do you choose? How do you decide? Or do you just agonize and delay, which of course leads to more overwhelm, anxiety and crushes your confidence. Ugh.

Making decisions is part of the process of living, because the alternative is just letting life happen to you. Let’s take action and try to make that process easier. Here’s a strategy from Darius Foroux, who writes extensively on (among other things) productivity, habits, and goal-setting. I like his straightforward approach to many things so I thought I would share this with you.

First of all, Foroux wants you to take a step back and try to frame your decisions focusing on three steps:

  1. Avoid Outcome Think
  2.  Keep it Simple and Limit Your Options
  3. Detach From the Situation

Let’s start with the first: Avoid Outcome Think

You know how this goes. Your mind becomes like a film, telling the story, including some necessary drama, and how it all ends. But guess what?  You’re not the oracle (who is hands down my favorite character in The Matrix), so how do you know? Simple, you don’t. What you do know is that decisions are happening now. You can control your choice by gathering and assessing information. After you make your decision, it’s out of your hands, which is hard but it’s the truth. Control what you can control and feel good about taking a decisive step.

Keep it Simple and Limit Your Options

There are so many options to choose from, so start to embrace the concept of less is more. Just watch this in practice when you give a child five options vs. two. Trust me, the “either this or that” of only having two  things to choose from will save your sanity every time.

From Foroux: “There are a bunch related behavioral science theories that one must keep in mind when making decisions:

  1. Analysis paralysis: When overthinking leads to non-action.
  2. Decision fatigue: The quality of your decisions deteriorates after making multiple decisions in a short time.
  3. Information overload: When too much information confuses you and harms the quality of your decisions.
  4. Overchoice: Difficulty making a decision when faced with many options.”

Whittle the choices down and make life a little easier.

Detach From the Situation

This one is hard. Basically, it’s the concept of buyer’s remorse. We’ve all been there. Walking around thinking “Oh no. I made the wrong decision.” And we dwell. And we angst. And we keep going over the ‘what if’ scenarios. This can apply not just to retail, but to our careers, education, etc.

When we’ve drawn out the process, we are so heavily attached to the outcome that it can seem like a do-or-die situation. That is draining. Remember point number one? Avoid outcome think. We can’t control the outcome. And, sometimes things just don’t work out to our expectations. Sometimes, what we thought was a wrong decision brings us an unexpectedly better outcome than we would have thought. Again, sometimes we’ll need to pivot or even backtrack, but we’ll know that at least we took action.

As always, figuring out what works for you is a process and along the way I hope some of these strategies will resonate. Maybe even lead to positive, sustainable change for you.