7 Steps to Making Better Decisions

21379811_mlLet’s face it; problem solving and making decisions is not everyone’s cup of tea. Yet we make decisions every day. We decide what to wear, what to eat, and where to or not spend our money. Sometimes we even give others the authority to make decisions for us. This act alone can be dangerous if we have no insight into what some of those decisions might be.

After all, you have probably heard the phrase, “Your life is a product of all the choices you have made.” It may be that because of those choices; you look around and think to yourself, “How did I end up here?” You may be paralyzed from making a decision for fear of making the wrong choice and started asking anyone and everyone for their opinion. It’s great to get advice but ultimately you must own your choices and take full responsibility for your actions.

As long as you are not doing anything illegal, the world won’t come crashing down if you make the wrong choice. You are human. No one is keeping a detailed log of your mistakes. Everyone has made a bad decision at one time or another and if they tell you they haven’t, they are not being truthful. I do not know of a single person who does not wish that they said or did something differently. The most important thing in making mistakes is to learn from them. What would you do differently the next time?

In my nursing career, I can tell you that a knowledgeable nurse is the one who has been exposed to some of the most challenging experiences and is not one quoting from a textbook. Not every learning situation can be simulated but it can be discussed or one can self-reflect. I know this holds true for leaders in many professions.

Some decisions are simple whereas others are complex. We must be mindful of our self-talk when it comes to making decisions. Self-doubt can creep in. Leaders must be courageous and learn to make informed decisions. You can readjust if you make a wrong decision. Every wrong decision made hopefully gets you closer to the right decision.

Making decisions expends energy, time, and even money. The more you wait for the right moment to make a choice, it may be costing you.

Decision making can be simplified by breaking down complex decisions into small pieces. Start asking questions to develop clarity around the problem, issue, or decision you need to make.7912002_ml

Start with getting all the details. What is the situation? What background information do you have? What is the current status of the situation? Do you need information from other people (Facts, figures, or statistics)?

Brainstorm solutions. Mindtools.com suggests a method called “starbursting”, a brainstorming technique focusing on generation of questions rather than answers using Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? As a coach, I know that the most profound answers come from asking great questions. The more thoughtful questions you ask the more thoughtful answers you generate.

Discover the options available. What are the possibilities? What choices do you have?

Weigh out the benefits or risks. What are the benefits and risks of each option? Who or What will be impacted? Do the risks outweigh the benefits?

Mitigate risks and break down roadblocks. What has to be done to mitigate risks? Do you need more information? What are the gaps or challenges that need to be addressed?

Be clear on the outcomes you want to achieve. What are the potential outcomes or results? It is easy for people to state what they do not want but they have trouble being clear on what they do want. No problem – reframe what you don’t want into what you do want.

Prioritize your best options or solutions and make your decision! Be mindful of your emotions as a person’s emotions can easily influence their decisions. It is important to weigh in on the knowledge, facts, and information you have collected. There is room for a “gut” check but do not rely on this intuition alone. Have you ever made an assumption and discovered you were completely wrong? It is important to challenge your assumptions in order to discover if your assumptions hold true.

Making decisions does not have to be stressful. Chances are you have made many decisions before – simple and complex. Think about the process you used to move through those situations. What would have made these decisions easier?

Remember some decisions require you to act in a timely manner. By practicing these steps in making decisions, you will get better with each decision and new experience you have. Don’t be afraid to make a decision or put yourself in new situations that require you to make more complex decisions.

What would your life be like if you grabbed the opportunity to trust yourself and make a decision? Would life look different? Would you be doing what you are doing? Would your results and outcomes be the ones you wanted?

DEBRA KASOWSKI, BScN CEC is an award-winning best-selling author, transformational speaker, blogger, and Certified Executive Coach. She has a heart of a teacher and is certified in Appreciative Inquiry and Emotional Intelligence. She is a contributing writer for Diversity Magazine and Fabulous at 50 magazine. Debra Kasowski International helps executives, entrepreneurs, and organizations boost their productivity, performance, and profits. It all starts with people and passion. www.debrakasowski.com


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