How to Take Better Decisions in Life and Work

In Personal Development, Personality Skills
Better Decisions in Life and Work

The quote from Michael Rawls below sums it all. Nothing in this world could have been achieved if man lacked the ability to make a decision. In fact, everything that we do daily is a result of certain decisions that we make, which over the course of time, become a habit.  Although luck and other external factors do have their importance, the course of a person’s life is deeply intertwined with the quality of decisions they make either actively or passively.  Some decisions are harder to make than others and when it comes to career and profession related matters, the importance of right decision making increases all the more. So what can you do to ensure that you are able to make the best decisions for yourself when required?

“The greatest accomplishment began as a decision once made and often a difficult one.”

-Michael Rawls

Taking No Decision is also a Decision

Most of us do not realize that not taking any action is also a conscious choice that we make. This is why most of the time your life takes a direction which you never intended to. In such situations, you will feel like a victim of circumstances because you think you didn’t cause it to happen. However, the truth is you are mostly reaping the results of not being able to take any action. Such indecision is also an ‘invisible’ choice as it’s not obvious and can pass unnoticed in the bigger scheme of things.   Therefore, unless you make an alternative choice to act, your life will be on a ‘default’ mode, where things and situations will happen to you, instead of you making them happen. You will feel controlled by some ‘unseen’ forces and regret will always be your companion.  It indeed is a scary situation to be in.

What is Decision Making?

Whenever a mind is engaged in the thought process of selecting a logical choice from the available options, it is said to be in the process of making a decision. Nothing matters more for a leadership position than your ability to decide between two or more choices. No one comes with an inherent gift of making the right choice always. Sound decision making is a skill that needs nurturing like any other.  Decision making capability and assertiveness are two traits that appeal to employers. Your ability to make effective decisions will earn you favor with employers and also help you gain promotions.

The following inputs are a part of any decision-making process:

Planning

If you want to reach somewhere, it’s important to know your destination beforehand. This destination is your goal. Once you know the end-point of the journey it’s easier to take decisions that propel you towards it.  These decisions are to be taken in a systematic manner which we call as plan. Not having a plan is a common shortcoming that leads people to make poor choices.  This is why very few people are able to achieve the success they envision and yearn for. When you set a plan and goal, you are establishing the outcomes that you seek and setting milestones in order to achieve them. This will only improve the chances of getting the desirable outcomes.  Without a plan, you won’t be able to justify your decisions when failure strikes and neither take corrective measures.

Gut Instinct

There is no logical explanation to how sometimes even in the presence of refined analytical data how your gut can often prevail against the reasonability of the available inputs. Sometimes a person doesn’t have anything but his or her own gut instinct to rely on. Over the time, you can refine and improve your intuitive reasoning to make better decisions for yourself.

Data: Facts, statistics, reports or random inputs comprise raw data. However, making decisions based on raw data will lead to flawed decisions based on incomplete data sets.

Information

A more refined and evolved data set is known as information. Information is obtained from processed data where context and meaning have been added to disparate facts allowing for a more thorough analysis.

Knowledge

When you apply analysis to information after assimilating, testing and validating, it becomes knowledge.  Since it has already been proved, knowledge is actionable and can be acted upon with a high degree of accuracy.

Pros and Cons

Making a comprehensive list of pros and cons of any decision provides clarity and renders credibility to it. With a definitive idea of the benefits and drawbacks of any decision, you will be more focused and be able to justify your actions later.

The Context

The backdrop of your decision will largely decide the nature of it and whether it was right or wrong. When you look back at yourself ten years down the line, would you have taken the same decision considering the context or would you have done anything differently?  Did you have a choice?

Decision Making at Workplace

Good decision making will hold you in good stead while you go job hunting. Every job out there involves decision making. There are many instances when, you as a leader of your team will be required to make choices, and also the responsibility of the outcome of your choices. Career paths like marketing, management, finance and retail require a large amount of decision making. If the decisions you make produce successful results for your team and organization, it makes you an apt candidate for higher leadership positions. The success of your decisions will make your case strong while applying to leadership jobs amongst others.

Last but not the least, have a backup plan ready. If your decision does turn out to be a poor choice, have a course correction ready. Anticipating and preparing for disappointments and other eventualities will give you a further context on the decision you are making. The real test of a leader is by his line of action in case the decision fails to make the intended impact.

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