Decision-making can be an extremely stressful process–not to mention it’s something we must do usually several times per day. This is why I truly believe that enhancing your decision-making skills is parallel to enhancing your happiness in life.
I consider elevating my decision-making skills as crucial to my survival, especially because I have inherited my mother’s genes when it comes to being indecisive.
My mother is what you might call a maximizer. This basically means that she looks at every possible option before making a decision.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some perks to her method. For example, when traveling, her extensive research lands us at incredible restaurants and leads to experiences we continue to reminisce about for years to come.
The unfortunate downside to having so many choices is that, no matter how good the moment is, you aren’t fully present because you’re too busy wondering if another option would have brought you more joy; and, of course, the more choices you have, the harder it is to make a decision!
Here are five strategies that have helped me to enhance my decision-making, not dwell over my choices, and enjoy and appreciate experiences without regret.
1. There is no right or wrong.
Decisions, typically, are not life and death. That’s not to say that making certain decisions don’t have consequences, but if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that consequences will present themselves no matter which choice you make.
Sometimes, you can troubleshoot by foreseeing potential negatives outcomes, while other times, unexpected sh*t storms arise no matter what.
When that happens, it doesn’t mean you made the “wrong” decision, because who knows what shit storm would have brewed if you went another direction.
Keep in mind that making the “right” or “wrong” decision just means you might get more of one thing, or less than something else.
2. Start with your values.
This can help with any minor or major decisions you have to make. Take traveling, for instance. There are so many appealing options that it’s easy to get lost. Do I want a secluded beach vacation, or a metropolitan city?
Start by thinking about (and making a list) of reasons why you’re taking a trip in the first place. Are you overworked and need to relax? Or are you overworked and deserve to spend your hard earned cash on a shopping spree?
Both are great choices, but when you get clear about what you value (which can vary greatly depending on the decision) then sometimes the better choice presents itself.
3. Accept the consequences and move on.
After I make a decision, I can spend hours dwelling about all the things that aren’t perfect. So much so that I don’t even give myself the chance to appreciate what is actually going RIGHT.
Sometimes, you make a shitty choice, but if you can learn to shake it off and move on quickly, then you give yourself the chance to enjoy yourself, and reap the benefits of the choice you did make.
4. You can’t make everyone happy.
Whether it’s family, a spouse, your business partner, you can factor in what people say, but it’s not your responsibility to make sure they are happy.
That’s not to say you don’t want them to be happy, but if you are the person who has been given the responsibility to make a decision, do what you can, then kindly tell everyone else to f*ck off if they don’t like it, because at the end of the day, you deserve to enjoy the experience, too.
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5. Weigh the pros and cons.
This is pretty cliché but that doesn’t make it any less true. In the same way that establishing your values can help you see things clearly, so can a pros and cons list.
Once you get everything written down and out of your head, it’s a lot easier to see the reality of your options.
Bite the bullet.
Keeping all of the above in mind, sometimes the best choice you can make is any choice at all! Even when you spend hours, days and weeks weighing your options, you still might wind up disappointed, and the actual decision making can add enormous amounts of stress to your day.
No matter which way you go, it’ll likely turn out fine in the end, and you’ll be a lot happier that you didn’t waste more time than necessary fretting over every detail.
Decision-making is an art, and like art, it requires practice. Some decisions you will be less happy with than others, but each time that happens is an opportunity to learn, which will help you the next time around.