Do you ever get stuck not knowing what decision to make?
We all suffer from indecision from time to time.
But indecision can be overcome.
Indecision has varied causes. Use the guide below to identify which causes may be preventing you from making a decision, and what can be done about it.
Do you lack the information you need to make a decision?
If so, gather more information. But be careful of gathering more information than you need.
Research can be an unending abyss. Before starting to research, determine what you need to make your decision and stop once you’ve acquired it.
Set a limit. For instance, stop when your hit rate on new information dips below 20%. Once you’ve already seen 4 out of every 5 pieces of information you look at, stop researching.
Not Knowing the Value of Options
Having a hard time figuring out what options are good versus bad?
Use decision techniques to help. Learn how to use pro-con lists, decision grids and other techniques to evaluate your options.
Focus on your goals and work backwards to value your options based on these goals. Figure out what’s important to you before judging your options.
If, in the end, your options appear equal, flip a coin or roll a dice.
Do you avoid making a good decision because you want the perfect decision?
Stop it. There’s a cost to indecision. Waiting can cause those good decisions to disappear while you wait for the perfect one.
Determine your minimum success criteria. Stop once you’ve found an option that meets those criteria.
Remember, the success of a decision involves luck and skill.
Luck is a numbers game; the more often you play, the better chance you have at winning. Making multiple good decisions in place of one perfect decision will give you a better shot at success.
Skill requires practice. Study decision-making. Start with small decisions, using what you learn to improve those. Push yourself to apply the same principles for larger decisions.
Aim to get the execution of your decision right. Great execution on a good choice beats poor execution on the perfect choice.
Wanting It All
Do you want it all?
Too often we don’t make decisions because we don’t want to say no to one of our choices.
But trying to say yes to everything results in getting nothing. Making a good choice means saying no to other good choices.
Practice appreciating the choices you make. Focus on the negative consequences of not making a choice instead of the positive consequences of each of your options.
Lacking Self Confidence
Do you not believe in your own abilities to make a good decision?
Take action to improve.
Make small decisions and celebrate your successes. Study best practices for making decisions to improve your confidence.
Ask others whose opinion you trust to gain new perspectives and gain confidence. But avoid asking wishy-washy people or those who like playing Devil’s advocate—they can make you more indecisive.
Being Too Tired
Are you too tired to make a decision?
Lack of sleep reduces the ability of your brain to think clearly. Your attention falters, your working memory disappears and you make riskier decisions.
Take a nap or make your decision in the morning after a full night’s sleep. Sleep plays an important role in refreshing our brain.
But don’t look toward your dreams or your subconscious to magically make the right decision when you awake. Research has shown that sleep doesn’t improve your gut—conscious deliberation is still required to make a good decision.
Hitting Decision Fatigue
Have you been making too many decisions?
Decision fatigue occurs when you deplete your decision “reserves” by making too many decisions, or making decisions which require significant energy, such as those with lots of options.
Overcome decision fatigue by eating, sleeping or taking a break.
Avoid decision fatigue by being proactive when you can. Read 6 Ways to Tame Decision Fatigue to learn how.
Do you have trouble getting everyone to agree?
Focus on how the problem is framed and what process you’ll use to evaluate the decision. Agree on your principles before trying to make the decision.
How do you normally suffer from indecision? What techniques have you used to overcome it?
Credits: The photo used in this article was taken by Okko Pyykkö.