Decisions, decisions. We face them every day. Big ones, small ones and ones we’re all terrified of getting wrong. Can someone just give us the blueprint guiding us to the right decision every time?
Sadly, there’s no fail-safe way to ensure that the decision you make will be the right one every time.
So we should just get more comfortable with how we make decisions and start trusting ourselves to make them.
When my husband was given the chance to relocate to a job in a new province a year ago, some big decisions had to be made. We had to leave behind friends and family, and a home we had loved and renovated for 20 years. We had to figure out how to move my business to a new area without any guarantees.
My husband struggled with the uncertainty more than I did.
My husband likes to have time to process an issue. He’s a researcher – he likes to investigate all possible options before he makes a decision. He needs time to review the pros and cons and analyze the data from all angles.
On the other hand, I embrace a more decide-quick-and-go method. I trust that no matter what decision gets made, if it turns out to be heading in an undesirable direction, you can course-correct at any time.
There’s no right or wrong way to process an issue. Your skill as a decision-maker depends on your willingness to make a mistake and manage a level of uncertainty or risk.
When it comes to deciding on anything, it’s important to break the problem down into smaller, digestible pieces. Every person has things that are important to them. We refer to these as values (for example, freedom, security, adventure). People also have values within a given context – their criteria.
Ask a person, “What’s important to you in the work you choose to do?” and they’ll tell you their criteria for their work (perhaps helping people, doing a good job or making money). Ask them what’s important to them when choosing somewhere to live and you’re likely to get different criteria, because the context is different. Criteria are context-dependent.
If a person buying a product says flexibility, portability and reliability are what’s most important to them, then those are their criteria in that context. When a decision needs to be made, these individuals will seek out products and services that protect or offer an opportunity to meet these criteria.
For example, when people express interest in having me present to their organization, I ask them “What’s important to you in a training course?” Then I listen as they tell me the criteria. When my training matches the criteria (or I can see a way to make it match), I say, “So if I could offer you a training that provides [all the criteria], would you be interested?”
Typically, when you play someone’s criteria back to them, they light up. This is a simple way we can help ourselves reach a decision. Find out what the criteria is and select the opportunity that best meets those needs.
Others can try to persuade you but they can’t decide for you. They can walk with you but not in your shoes. So make sure the path you take aligns with your needs and hopes. Be open to new opportunities and trust that you can switch paths or pave a new one when that makes sense.
This is your life and it’s made up entirely of your choices. If life only teaches you one thing, let it be that taking a passionate leap is always worth deciding upon.
Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.