One day, Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. Its response was a question. “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” ~Lewis Carroll
Are you indecisive? Do you procrastinate in making decisions? Do you look for more information to build your confidence and avoid risk in the deciding? Do you defer decisions to others? Your indecision will impact your success – in business and life. As the Cheshire cat pointed out – If you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t matter which road you choose. Do you want to leave your life of business up to chance? I didn’t think so.
Our hesitation in making decisions leads to self doubt. If this becomes a habit, the self doubt will lead to a deeper fear. Fear keeps us from being productive and successful. If you can not make a decision, you can not take the first step and get into action. The escalation of Indecision – doubt – fear is what keeps us all from successfully attaining our goals in life and business.
Decisiveness is the willingness to make decisions, even in the face of complexity or uncertainty. When we are decisive, we weigh the information that is available to us and we use our judgement to choose among the possibilities. It is easier to be decisive when we are clear about our values and goals.
Decisiveness means taking the risk that we may be wrong, but knowing that perfect clarity is rarely available and indecision can be costly. It also means taking responsibility for the outcome of the decision. Together, research, analysis and decisiveness get great things done. (definition provided by Wisdom Commons – update: site no longer available)
What is keeping you from making decisions quickly? Are you disorganized and don’t know where to start? Are you a perfectionist? Here are a few steps to help you strengthen your decision making muscle:
step 1: identify your values
If you have never taken the time to identify your top values, please use the Discover Your Values tool and do so now. This is the foundation for all goal setting (and thus, decision making).
step 2: define SMART goals
The next key to strengthening your decision making muscle clearly defined goals. If you don’t know what you want, you have nothing to measure your options. For those 2 or 3 people who have never heard of SMART goals, let me quickly remind you of the guideline for establishing a powerful goal:
- Time bound
step 3: gather your options
Once you know your values and defined a clear goal, you have a good foundation Now when you are faced with a decision, measure the options provided with that decision against your values and goals. Often it is clear which option supports your goal. Sometimes you need more information. Caution! Do not get into analysis paralysis. First measure your gut – your intuition. Your intuition is simply a combination of your experiences, intellectual and emotional, and will guide you well. If you do not have a gut instinct about the decision, then gather information from trusted resources. Those trusted resources may include team mates, friends, your network, or members of professional communities.
step 4: set a time limit
If you need to gather information and assess your options, establish a reasonable time within which to make your decisions. This will help to keep you from getting into analysis paralysis. Remember the adage: make decisions quickly -change your mind slowly.
step 5: commit to action
Once you make your decision, take action! Don’t be wishy washy about your decisions. Commit to it and fully immerse yourself in the action. This is the most important step in building your decision making muscle. This is the equivalent of those last 2 reps in strength training – the ones that really build the muscle!
Consistency in exercising your decision making muscle will build your skill as a good decision maker who, based on a mixture of analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgment, makes decisions in a timely manner. Decide and do!