One of the greatest challenges we all face is the process of making a decision. We make decisions on a daily basis from what to wear in the morning and what to have for lunch to but we also have to make significant decisions about our lives and careers such as which courses of study to take, choosing a degree program, and whether or not to make a career change. The most difficult challenge we face is not so much in the decision to be made but in the indecision that keeps us from making a decision. Even the most successful leaders and executives still struggle with decision making. Decision making will occupy a considerable part of our personal and professional lives and you will find greater success when you learn how to make better more confident decisions.
Here are some strategies you can incorporate into your decision making to take the “in” out of indecision.
- Stay Calm. One of the worst things you can do when trying to make a decision is to get stressed and upset. This will affect your judgement and make the decision seem a lot more difficult and take a lot longer. By staying calm and focused you can work your way to a solution much more easily and rationally. If you feel panic coming on try taking a couple of deep slow breaths and taking a step back from the situation for a moment.
- Pretend that You Are Advising a Friend. Imagine you have a friend in exactly the same situation who has to make exactly the same decision. If they had no idea what would you say to them? How would you support them?
- List all of your options. Gathering all the pieces of key information is critical. Knowing all the details before making the decision can really help to clarify your options and give you more confidence in your final decision.
- Pros/Cons. When you have a good understanding of your options you can compare and analyze them by thinking about the pros and cons for each option. Sometimes you might realize that although the opportunity sounds fantastic you are not willing to make the sacrifices based on the drawbacks of that option. This technique will really help you gain perspective of each option and provide a clear way to evaluate each one by itself and to the others.
- Look at the Big Picture. It’s great to have all the details but try not to get too caught up in the little things. Try and think of the big picture – your career goals and/or life goals. How will this decision affect them.
- Ask for Help. It’s okay to ask for help! If you’re stuck in a dilemma reach out to friends, family, councilors or mentors you respect and trust. Sometimes all it takes is another set of eyes to see something you’ve been missing and give you the hints you need to come to a clear decision.
- How will you feel in the long term with making the decision? How will you feel in the long term if you don’t make the decision? Thinking to the future and how you will feel can really help you make the decision. In the end we all want to feel good and satisfied with our choices. Always consider your well-being when making a decision.
- Think about who will be affected. Who does your decision affect? Is it just you? Your family? Friends? Coworkers? When you think outside yourself to other people and the implications of your decision will have on them it can put your options in a different perspective which can help you come to a decision.
- Sleep on it. Sometimes you just need to take a break from a big decision for a while and give your brain a rest. When we sleep our brain processes information which can be helpful to making your decision. Also, when you’ve had a good night’s sleep and you’re feeling refreshed you are more likely to think clearly and make a better decision.
- When in Doubt Follow Your Gut. Intuition is the ability of our mind to gain knowledge or make an inference without the use of reason. Your subconscious can be more perceptive than your conscious mind in knowing what you truly think about a situation. If you really have no idea what to decide follow your instincts and trust yourself.
Trying to make a decision about your career? The Student Life Center offers workshops on a variety of professional topics. Click here to learn more!
You can also find information on our website to help with career planning and decision making in the resources section.