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Beginner’s Guide To Being Decisive

Category: Featured, Personal Power

Beginner's Guide To Decision Making
Photo Courtesy of exfordy

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. – Jim Rohn

There is no doubt how easy life will turn out to be if we can make good decisions quickly and easily. I have found that the answer to “How to become decisive” is actually quite simple. If we follow the simple steps mentioned below, in no time we will get comfortable with entire decision making process and begin to make decisions with ease.

My Story – From Indecisive To Decisive

My journey of becoming a decisive person started with a simple concept I read in Stephen Covey’s book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. Stephen said that we always have choices. While we might not consider certain choices because of consequences, the choices are always there. We are free to choose whatever we want to as long as we take responsibility for the consequences of that choice.

Most people find this liberating because it shows them how many choices they have. I found my liberation in the fact that if I am all right with the consequence, I can make any choice I like – I can decide what I want for myself without worrying about whether it is right or wrong.

As a kid, this gave me a new kind of freedom.

  • Don’t want to finish up homework and keep notebook up-to-date? I can do so as long as I don’t mind losing some marks and get a complain in my school calendar.
  • Which book should I pick up to read? I can choose any I want as long as I am ok with it turning out to be bad.
  • Which ice-cream to eat? I can choose any flavour as long as I finish it for this time (It’s obvious if it doesn’t turn out good I will not order again).

As I started making more decisions, I noticed that I was getting to know myself better. By experimenting I now know what do I really like and what I don’t. Having a personal choice/preferance definately makes decision making easier. And along with these, my decision making skills too had started to improve. I looked at the long term picture, started considering all possibilities and focussed on making the right decision everytime. As I look back, I realise now that being decisive doesn’t require any kind of science; atleast for beginners.

In Order To Be Decisive, All You Need Is …

  • Desire
    A desire to make decisions and a decision to follow on with your desire. If you are not interested to find out how to be decisive, if you are not interested in applying the solutions, it is not going to work. You need to be motivated about becoming decisive. You need to be willing to put in the required effort. Nothing is going to happen on its own.
  • Practice Area
    Identify areas of your life where you can make beginners decisions – go buy groceries, go to a library, try to pick up a movie to watch … anything where you can exercise your decision making skills and the cost of being wrong might not be too huge.
  • Analyze
    A clear picture of pros and cons – what will happen if decision is right, what will happen if decision is wrong. If you have an adventurous spirit, you might feel like forgetting about the con part and tell yourself that whatever happens, you are ready for it. But I suggest don’t do so. You might not be able to forget the consequences always. Hence practice analyzing them.
  • Follow the Cycle
    And now follow the cycle : Practice – Reflect – Learn – Practice

Decision making for starters is really as simple as this. You will observe that as you practice these, you will start gaining confidence in your ability to make decisions. And in no time, you will become decisive about lot of things in life.

Some Tips To Make Decision Making Faster And More Efficient …

  • Be Pro-Active
    Create opportunities to decide on something and commit. For instance, if you are invited for a party, don’t say you are not sure whether you will come or not. Commit to one thing. Preferably with time. And make sure you stay true to whatever you commit.
  • Honour Your Word
    Be a person with integrity – it is the essential ingredient in becoming decisive. Do what you said you would, by the time you said you would. Honour each commitment you make. For when you do so, you start trusting yourself. And it’s only when you trust yourself that you will trust your decisions.
  • Start Small And Then Build Up
    If you try practising your skills at too many places all at once, chances are you will get overwhelmed and drop the idea all together. Start small and then keep building upon it.
  • Use Power of Language
    Pay attention to what you say. If you find yourself saying something like ‘I guess I will go with this ..’ , catch yourself and say ‘I decide to go with this’.
  • Celebrate and Learn
    Everytime you make good decisions, pat yourself. And if you make wrong ones, observe and learn from your mistakes. This will be a lifetime process since no one can make right decisions all the time. We learn and grow with every decision.
  • Work On Your Timing
    Improvise your timing with every decision you make. Try to make right decisions faster than before. The more quickly you decide, the more decisive you will become. Moreover, as your pace to decide increases, you will start feeling comfortable with making decisions. And it will not turn out be a chore.
  • Hone Your Instincts
    Notice that little voice in your head giving you inputs and providing you with feedback – listen to it. Gut feeling has it’s own logic. And that logic is often right. Go by your instincts and hone them by providing feedback for every decision you make with them. When you have to make real quick decisions, these can save you.

What To Do When Fear Raises It’s Head …

As you begin your journey from being indecisive to decisive, one thing that will constantly obstruct you is fear – Fear of making making mistakes, fear of consequences, fear of letting someone down, fear of losing approval etc And all I can tell you is this -

  • Be Courageous
    Don’t let your fears overpower you. It is all right to be nervous but don’t let that stop you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It is the only way to learn. Have faith in your judgement and believe that whatever happens, you will take full responsibility for it. As you get comfortable embracing failures, you will start seeing decision making in a new light.
  • Visualize
    See yourself as a decisive person who believes in himself/herself. See yourself make the right decisions. The more you believe in yourself, the lesser your fear will become.
  • Learn From Failures
    No one can be right all the time. Given the way we have to make decisions – with limited time and limited info, sometimes, we are bound to make mistakes. Learn from them. These mistakes are your feedback. As you start seeing mistakes as feedback and not a judgement about you, fears will go down.
  • Take Action
    If there is one thing which has consistenly worked in driving fear away, it is taking action. Act on your decisions. The more you sit over them, the more fear will paralyze you. As you take action, fear will disappear.
  • Start A Diary
    Write down your experiences with decision making in a diary. Over a period of time, your positives and negatives will jump out of the page. They will be so obvious, that you will not have to put in any effort in finding them. And once you know where you are going wrong, it’s going to be easy to find a solution and grow. What you will also notice is that the consequences of making a mistake are really not as bad as you thought. Allow your fear of making mistakes and fear of consequences to go down.

The more decisions you make, the more fear you face, the more confident you will become. And as you gain confidence, it is natural for you to branch out and test these skills in other areas of your life – Your life, career, health, relationships etc – the important and long term stuff. For these areas, you might want to learn different ways of making decisions.

Some Popular Decision Making Techniques

  • Basic Paper and Pen Technique
    Pick up a piece of paper and start writing. Write about your choices, your assumptions, your concerns, your fears, your analysis .. everything. Do not edit or judge anything you write. As you empty your mind on a piece of paper, you will gain clarity. And in this clarity, decision will come to you.
  • Grid Analysis
    Grid Analysis is a very popular technique used for decision making when you have multiple alternatives and factors to consider. First list all your options and factors. List options as row labels and factors as column headings. Now for every option, give a ‘score’ to the factor from 0(poor) to 3(very good). You now have everything neatly presented in a glance to figure out what to choose.

    If you are thinking that this is good but not all factors are equally important, it’s a good thought. To ensure that each factor is considered based on their level of importance, ‘rate’ them in numbers say from 0-10 or any other range you like. Now multiply ‘rate’ with ‘score’.This will give them the correct overall weight in your decision. Finally add up the scores for your options. The option that scores the highest is the best.

    Additional tip – you can also consider setting the factors which should be present, which should not be present, mandatory minimum/maximum values etc. Those which do not match up with these are eliminated upfront.

  • Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats Approach
    Six Thinking Hats will make you look at the alternatives from a 360 degree view. It makes you think about the option with multiple perspectives. Do you always think rationally? You might miss out on the emotional view point. Are you an optimist? You might miss out on the pessimistic view point. Each way of thinking helps you to analyze the problem differently. By putting yourself in place of the optimist, pessimist, rational, emotional, dreamer, salesman, consumer etc, you will be able to think through things from their angle. Each thinking hat is a different style of thinking. You can use them in your meetings or on your own. It’s a great technique to make people see view points other than their own.

    Following are The Six Thinking Hats:

    1. White Hat
    Become a data lover, become an analyzer. Look at numbers, see what are they saying. Look at concrete facts and derive judgements out of it. Is there any area you have left untouched? Are there gaps in your knowledge? Try to fill them or take them into account. Discard everything other than logic.

    2. Red Hat
    Become an emotional person. How would a emotional person respond? How would they react? Forget the reasoning part. Emotions aren’t always logical. Feel, react, respond.

    3. Black Hat
    Play the devil’s advocate. Look at each option with a critical eye. What are it’s weaknesses? Why will this not work? What’s wrong with it? Sometimes, options drop out because we find some unacceptable negatives. For the rest, we know the weaknesses and we can keep contingency plans ready.

    4. Yellow Hat
    Think positively. Be an optimist. Look at everything going right. See the benefits, see the value. These work like great reminders and are quite motivational.

    5. Green Hat
    Get creative. Find new ideas, new possibilities. There is no room for judgement or criticism. This works well when you have to brainstorm some solutions.

    6. Blue Hat
    You will always have your blue hat on. It decides which other cap you are supposed to put on. Have data in hand? Put on White hat. Facing some problems? Put on Black Hat for contingency plans. Need some motivation? Put on the Yellow Hat. Blue Hat directs your way of thinking.

  • Follow Your Heart
    Follow Your Heart. It will not misdirect you. Complete your paper-pen approach, grid analysis, six thinking hat approach, any other technique you want to use. Tell yourself what the decision is. And see how you feel about it. If your heart goes down and you feel bad about it – then this is not the right decision for you. Even though logically it might make sense. Even though every reasoning points in that direction, if your heart is not in it, it is not right for you. Ask your heart what does it want. And follow it with faith. Your heart will never let you down.

Books On How To Be Decisive:


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Reader's Comments

  1. Rachel | July 17th, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    This is a great post. I am so indecisive so these are some great tips. Thanks!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Shilpan | successsoul.com | July 17th, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Avani -

    I like this in depth view of our confidence or lack of. Thanks for the link love as well.

    Shilpan

    Reply to this comment
  3. Evelyn Lim | July 18th, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Very well written article, Avani! It’s informative and gives me points to work on!

    Thks,
    Evelyn

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..Practising Awareness Of The Mind

    Reply to this comment
  4. Ari Koinuma | July 18th, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Avani,

    This is a great overview! Very well-written, and I like the sense of grace I feel from reading it. You make it all seem — simple.

    I hadn’t heard of the Six-Hat approach, either. I’ll need to explore that next time I need to make a major decision.

    I am just curious — which approach do you use, when you have to decide on something? For example, how did you approach starting this blog?

    ari

    Ari Koinumas last blog post..You Can Be This Good: Definitive Overview of Self Actualization

    Reply to this comment
  5. Vered | July 18th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    “Don’t let your fears overpower you. It is all right to be nervous but don’t let that stop you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It is the only way to learn. Have faith in your judgement and believe that whatever happens, you will take full responsibility for it. As you get comfortable embracing failures, you will start seeing decision making in a new light.”

    I couldn’t agree more! Fears are natural, but they should be silenced. Great article – thank you.

    Vereds last blog post..Internet Safety: Did I Go Too Far?

    Reply to this comment
  6. Avani-Mehta | July 18th, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    You are welcome

    Hi Shilpan,
    Happy to know you liked the article.

    Hi Evelyn,
    Happy to know this article has been of some help

    Hi Ari,
    I actually mix-match all approaches as and when applicable. Two things that remain constant for important decisions: I always begin with paper-pen and every decision has to pass through the heart test.

    Hi Vered,
    You are welcome.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Lance | July 18th, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Avani – I like this list of how we can work at being more decisive. Like you, I gained a lot of knowledge from Stephen Covey’s book. I think he said something in the book to the effect of “Between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose. That was powerful for me. To think that doesn’t have to be reactionary, but that we can decide how to respond.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Avani-Mehta | July 18th, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Lance, that’s one of my favourite quotes.
    “Between stimulus and response there is a space.
    In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response
    In those choices lie our growth and our happiness”

    Reply to this comment
  9. dcr | July 19th, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Wow! Lots of great stuff in this post. You could have spread it out across a couple posts, but I appreciate that you put it all in one. Makes it easier to read, albeit a bit overwhelming!

    dcrs last blog post..Photo Phriday: Don’t Let Something Good Pass You By

    Reply to this comment
  10. Avani-Mehta | July 19th, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Happy to know you found some value in it.

    With the same logic – too lengthy posts being overwhelming; I created a series last time –

    Am experimenting with article length to find something that works well for readers. What do you say? Which way is better?

    For now, I suggest, bookmark the article and go part by part.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach | July 19th, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Super resources!

    My favorite technique for being decisive is to give myself permission to make one heck of a doozy mistake. :) Once I take ownership of my actions, I realize….it could go well, it could go more depressing than 83 cups of coffee spilled on the floor….but it won’t go ANYWHERE unless I proactively make it happen.

    The action causes all the difference.

    Data points, Barbara

    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coachs last blog post..2008 Animal Planet Hero of the Year

    Reply to this comment
  12. Sunil Pathak | July 19th, 2008 at 6:47 am

    “And it’s only when you trust yourself that you will trust your decisions.”

    Self confidence is every thing it takes to succeed in anything and every thing if you have no faith in your self then everything ought to go against you

    Sunil Pathaks last blog post..6 Deep Linking Strategies That Actually Works

    Reply to this comment
  13. Avani-Mehta | July 19th, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Hi Barbara Ling,
    Allowing oneself to make mistakes is the best gift one could give himself/herself.

    Hi Sunil,
    Self Confidence is “the key” to success in life.

    Avani-Mehtas last blog post..Beginner’s Guide To Being Decisive

    Reply to this comment
  14. Daniel Richard | WE | July 19th, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Wow! That’s sure a long post there Avani. :)

    I havent’ checked out any decision making techniques before, and this is by far the first time I’ve heard of those methods. Haha. And great links to more reads on the same topic there.

    Great effort by ya!

    Daniel

    Reply to this comment
  15. Avani-Mehta | July 19th, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Hi Daniel,
    Do try these methods out. They not only bring new perspectives, they are a lot of fun as well.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Cath Lawson | July 19th, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Hi Avani – what a wonderful post. I love the idea of the different coloured hats – using that would make life so much better.

    And what you said about that sinking feeling in your heart is so true – I have made many bad decisions because I ignored that feeling.

    Reply to this comment
  17. paresh | July 21st, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Avani, diff. subjects on single platform. nice articles keep it up. thanks for sharing.

    Reply to this comment
  18. Avani-Mehta | July 21st, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Hi Cath,
    I too love the six hats thinking style. Some important point always comes up which I would have missed otherwise.

    Hi Paresh,
    Happy to know you liked the articles.

    Reply to this comment
  19. Barbara Swafford | July 21st, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Hi Avani,

    I love the part where you say “honor your word”. It keeps us accountable, builds credibility, and builds character

    Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Interview With Lorelle VanFossen – Part 1 – Stay Motivated

    Reply to this comment
  20. Avani-Mehta | July 21st, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Barbara,

    I fully agree with you. Honouring word is empowering because of the reasons you mentioned.

    Reply to this comment
  21. VENU.K | August 3rd, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Hi
    This was a very good post covering a lot of ground at one go.Decision making is a very tough proposition.Our success or failure depends on our ability to take right decisions at the right time.Having specific goals will make decision making a little easier because you can weed out a lot of alternatives.But still decision making is the greatest challenge.Thank you very much for your insights which made decision making a lot simpler.Best wishes

    Reply to this comment
  22. Nathalie Lussier | August 4th, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    This is my first visit here, but I am really liking your advice. I think sometimes we can just get overwhelmed and decide to just shut down and avoid making decisions. Your suggestions break down the decision process and make it easier to reach your goals.

    Awesome!

    Nathalie Lussier’s last blog post..Is Your Relationship with Money on the Brink of Divorce?

    Reply to this comment
  23. shefali | August 12th, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Hii…avani….

    it’s a gud one…but i have a little doubt…wat if, u follow ur heart..but things go haywire or u hurt urself…n bugs other..so to justiy this…

    Reply to this comment
  24. Avani-Mehta | August 12th, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Hi Shefali,

    Sometimes, heart does ask us to do difficult things – which could lead to hurting ourself or others. But, if it is right for us, then doesn’t it make sense to follow it?

    What looks crazy today can look like a learning experience or life changing experience tomorrow. It all depends upon what you do today and how your life turns out later on.

    If you can take responsibility for yourself and your actions then following your heart is possible. Without it, it is difficult. Because the journey is sometimes scary even though worth it later on.

    Reply to this comment
  25. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker | September 16th, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Love your list of tips for overcoming fears. Each time that I have faced my fears, the remaining ones became smaller. Each time gets easier.

    Patricia – Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker’s last blog post..Dare To Forgive

    Reply to this comment
  26. Kim Woodbridge | September 27th, 2008 at 12:12 am

    I like what you said at the beginning of the article –

    “Don’t want to finish up homework and keep notebook up-to-date? I can do so as long as I don’t mind losing some marks and get a complain in my school calendar.”

    My Mom taught me that sort of personal responsibility when I was young. She never got upset about bad grades or if I got in trouble at school. Instead she impressed upon me that my choices would have consequences and it was up to me, not her, to make the right one. She could guide me and provide the environment I needed to learn but she was not going to yell at me or punish me for bad grades.

    I think that because of this I don’t have much trouble making decisions. Sometimes I make the wrong one but that was MY choice.

    Reply to this comment
  27. Avani-Mehta | September 27th, 2008 at 12:18 am

    @Patricia: So true, once we start facing fears, fears stop over powering us.

    @Kim: Your mom and my mom seem to have the same philosophy of raising kids. We had only one rule – parents shouldn’t be called to school. Other than that, we are free to do whatever we like.

    I believe once we start owning our decisions, making decisions automatically becomes easy.

    Reply to this comment
  28. Effortless Abundance | October 1st, 2008 at 6:58 am

    This is a really comprehensive article full of practical ideas. I really enjoyed it.

    Reply to this comment
  29. phpcoder | October 14th, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Hi Avani, thank you for the wonderful post….. i am trying to implement all the steps

    Reply to this comment
  30. Migue de Luis | October 21st, 2008 at 9:41 am

    I have to thank Ari for leading me to this great article. I’m printing it for future reference. Avani, you rock :)

    Migue de Luis´s last blog post..Mastermind group: choose your own personal government

    Reply to this comment
  31. Smita | November 7th, 2008 at 4:52 am

    Hey Avni,
    Great article!!
    I would like to share the time I gt indecisive th most…It was when I wanted to quit from my 1st job!!!!!
    The emmotional attachment wid d company overpwered my other gains and I used the most common technic Pen & Paper :) and it worked an now I am working for my 2nd Company :)

    I love the way you write things…Keep going!!

    Reply to this comment
  32. Avani-Mehta | November 7th, 2008 at 8:31 am

    @Smita: Thank you for sharing your story. Personal stories make everything so much stronger.

    Reply to this comment
  33. Ariel - You Are Truly Loved | November 10th, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Wow Avani, you’ve created a thorough and incredibly useful resource. Thank you very much for this wonderful guide to developing out decisiveness.

    Ariel – You Are Truly Loved´s last blog post..How Would You Live If You Were Totally Fearless?

    Reply to this comment
  34. aSh | January 4th, 2009 at 5:42 am

    hi Avani,

    gr8 article…

    can’t decide how to thnk u for such a nice article… !!! I think I need to re-read the article.. :)

    regards,
    aSh

    aSh´s last blog post..links for 2008-12-21

    Reply to this comment
  35. Dr. Sudeep Shroff | November 16th, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Hi Avani,

    Grea site! This is my first visit. You are really having a good quality an amount of content.

    I appreciate.
    Regards,
    Sudeep
    .-= Dr. Sudeep Shroff´s awesome post ..The Power Is With You! =-.

    Reply to this comment
  36. marcie | August 1st, 2010 at 9:23 am

    hi, Wow I cant believe I founbd this. I was okay with taking dcision before but for some unknown reason /i have become very undecisive, I can easily say What i dont like but /it can take ages to decide what I like. Also, now no joke it can take me longtime to decide what to wear even for staying at home, if I m going to something special I dont have that problem really bt for veryday ,,, It is very annoying! Thanks for writting on this.I will look for the book you mention by Lou Ann smith , the title sounds simple yet good.

    Reply to this comment
  37. Lisa | May 5th, 2011 at 11:10 am

    “Stephen said that we always have choices.”

    This is highly debatable. I think you should look into determinism with an open mind and then let me know if you stil agree with the above quote. =)

    Reply to this comment
  38. Jesabela | May 24th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Beginner’s Guide To Being Decisive- by blogger Avani Mehta.:
    A refreshing read of motivational truths along with easy to follow strategies for lifes tough decisions. I recommend this site only to those people who whish to do the work it takes to have confidence in the many choices we encounter throughout life!

    Reply to this comment
  39. Silverfish | May 24th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks for the post. I completely agree with your points especially the one about facing your fears.

    Reply to this comment
  40. sandeep | June 11th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    well written artical ,i m very confused person, but sure that ur artical gonna help me alot. THANKS ! for ur artical as i m feeling more confident.

    Reply to this comment

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Beginner’s Guide To Being Decisive – I liked this post even though I’m already a pretty decisive person. It’s got some great pointers for those that are less than confident in their decision making. [...]

  2. [...] Mehta’s excellent primer on decision-making can get you started on figuring out what decision-making method suits you.  Figure it out, and [...]

  3. [...] you need a primer on the basic understanding and methodology of decision-making, I refer you to the fabulous overview of decision-making mechanics by a fellow blogger Avani Mehta.  It should get you started on figuring out what decision-making [...]

  4. [...] Beginner’s Guide To Being Decisive by Avani-Mehta [...]

  5. [...] Beginner’s Guide To Being Decisive- by blogger Avani Mehta. Also read her ,  Page on The Art of NOT Making Decisions through Mental Chatter [...]

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