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4 Actionable Strategies to Be More Decisive (With Examples)


I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure. On a more serious note, decision-making is a big part of our day. Did you know we make roughly 35,000 decisions per day? Whilst many decisions are automatic habits, we can easily find ourselves caught up in paralyzing indecision. 

Great leaders are effective decision-makers. In fact, decision-making is often a competency in job interviews or promotions. Good decision-making has been linked with greater life happiness and success. And let’s be honest, we would all rather spend time with people who are decisive, rather than people who can’t seem to make up their minds. 

We can learn how to enhance our decision-making skills. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of being more decisive. We will then outline a number of practical methods to help us become more decisive.

What are the benefits of being more decisive? 

Not all decisions are made equal. Deciding what hot beverage to drink in the morning versus deciding on where to invest thousands of dollars are very different decisions to make.

This study found effective decision-making is correlated with high levels of hope for the future. As we know from one of our previous articles, hope gives us “faith, strength and a sense of purpose”. 

People with effective decision-making skills are also likely to be:

  • Strong leaders.
  • Productive.
  • Confident.
  • Engaging.
  • Assertive.
  • Capable.
  • Analytical thinkers.
  • Determined.
  • Knowledgeable.
  • Stable.

Interestingly, there is a difference in our happiness levels depending on our decision-making style.

Some people strive for the perfect solution to a decision. They are classed as “maximizers”. Whilst others are content with an adequate option, which will do in the circumstances. They are classed as “satisficers”. 

Would it surprise you to learn that satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers? This makes absolute sense to me. This suggests that effective decision-making isn’t always about finding the perfect solution but finding a solution that is good enough. 

The lesson here is that we don’t need to chase perfection.

What are the disadvantages of indecision? 

Spending time with indecisive people can be exhausting. In fact, I’ve heard it said a few times that indecision is the least attractive quality someone can have on a first date! 

It can be frustrating and draining when we have to think for 2 people. I don’t spend too much time with “I don’t mind” people. These people make me do all the work and contribute very little. And quite frankly, I don’t feel we can really get to know someone if they just go along with everything we want and do.

I would go as far as to say that indecisive people can come across as boring and disinterested. 

An extreme inability to make decisions has been classed as a dysfunctional personality trait. It also correlates with a number of other life-impacting factors, including: 

  • Impeded action. 
  • Lack of commitment to academic goals. 
  • Depression. 
  • Anxiety. 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It’s safe to say indecision is a contributing factor to poor well-being. It is also key in preventing us from securing  a second date or making deep connections with friends. As such, all the more reason to figure out how we can become more decisive. 

4 simple ways to be more decisive 

Picture someone you hold in high regard for their decision-making. What do you admire about them?

It may be a colleague who appears calm and collected whilst under pressure. Or perhaps it is a friend who seems like they are winning at life with a meal plan for each day of the week. 

It's time to learn how to be decisive like them, to be assertive and take control of your day.

1. Address your people-pleasing habits

I spoke about the “I don’t mind” people earlier. Truthfully, that used to be me. I thought people would be more willing to accept and like me if I just went with the flow.

But in reality, my people-pleasing habits sabotaged my relationships and hindered my decision-making.

Address your people-pleasing habits. What do you want? Have an opinion. Say what you think. It’s OK to have different ideas from other people. It’s perfectly normal to have different tastes to others. 

Be brave and learn to ask for what you want. Stop trying to please others. Once you conquer this, you will become more comfortable making decisions.

2. Use a decision-making tool 

As a detective in the police, I have made literal life and death decisions. This kind of pressure in the heat of the moment is intense. Luckily, we use a decision-making model to help with complex decisions. This model can be used in most decision-making situations. 

The national decision-making model has 6 elements to it: 

  • Code of ethics. 
  • Gather information and intelligence. 
  • Assess threats and risks and develop a working strategy. 
  • Consider powers and policy. 
  • Identify options and contingencies. 
  • Take action and review. 

Let’s use this model to decide what drink I should have. 

Firstly, my code of ethics which encapsulates my morals and values lies central to the other 5 elements. So let’s say my veganism is a key factor here. 

Then I need to gather the information available. I am thirsty and I know where I can find a beverage.

I assess that the threat and risk of not having a drink as required will result in a negative impact on my work.

What powers and policies are at play here? My work may stipulate that I can not drink alcohol whilst working, so this policy removes the option of a glass of wine. 

I assess my options in terms of what drinks are available. I may toy with a coffee, a herbal tea, or a glass of wine. I circle these options back in with the threat and risk and consider the contingencies for each option. Having a coffee at this time in the day may impact my sleep later tonight. A glass of wine may make me drowsy and is against company policy. There appears to be no negative outcomes related to herbal tea. 

As such, I take the action of having herbal tea. 

I encourage you to use this model, or an adapted version of it, to help you become an effective decision-maker.

3. Listen to your gut instinct 

The gut instinct is said to be more powerful than our brain! Dr. Deepak Chopra is a neuroendocrinologist. In this video, he explains that the gut has its own nervous system, which hasn’t yet developed in the same manner as our brain. Specifically, Dr. Chopra highlights that the gut has not learned to doubt itself as the brain has.

The gut instinct can be extremely powerful. It provides a sense of knowing, a surge in a certain direction. Sometimes we even feel butterflies in our stomach or an increase in our heart rate as a result of our gut instinct.

So, it’s time to listen to your gut instinct when it comes to making decisions. Learn to trust your instincts and see what happens. 

4. Minimize the number of decisions required 

It may sound obvious, but a very simple way we can enhance our decision making skills is by reducing how many decisions we have to make.

There’s a reason Mark Zuckerburg wears the same style and color of shirt every day - one less decision! 

In this article Zuckerburg says:

There’s actually a bunch of psychology theory that even making small decisions, around what you wear or what you eat for breakfast or things like that, they kind of make you tired and consume your energy. 

Mark Zuckerberg

So, if it’s good enough for Zuckerburg, it’s good enough for me. Let’s see where else we can minimize our decisions. 

  • Set out your daily work outfits a week in advance.
  • Create a weekly meal plan.
  • Plan your exercise a week in advance.
  • Schedule “me time” into your calendar.
  • Write “to do” lists and simply execute them.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Anything can be added to this. The fewer decisions we have to make, the more energy we have for the more important decisions. 

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Wrapping up 

From the moment we wake up, we are bombarded with decisions. Handling decisionsg like a pro makes us appear more confident and knowledgeable. And above all else, it can actually add to our likeability. People are more inclined to spend time with us when we are effective decision-makers. 

Do you use any particular technique to aid your decision-making skills? Let us know in the comments, we would love to hear from you.

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Ali Hall

Writer

Kindness is my superpower. Dogs and nature are my oxygen. Psychology with Sports science graduate. Scottish born and bred. I’ve worked and traveled all over the world. Find me running long distances on the hills and trails.

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