“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” ~ Tony Robbins
Recently I’m looking for a new home here in Berlin. Since we are looking to become a family soon, it’s time for a change. The market has gotten a lot tougher here in the last 2 years, which was when I first moved here. Many good homes are gone or overly pricy now.
Still, finally we thought we found something right. So we made the deal only to realize the day after that if you are really it’s just too loud with the traffic outside, especially for a family. So we want to get out again and have produced a bit of a mess all by ourself.
It wasn’t a good decision.
That kept me wondering how this really bad decision could’ve happened in the first place?
What’s a Real Decision?
The word ‘decide’ itself comes from Latin and means ‘to cut off’. Making a real decision means to come to a moment of truth and cut off everything but the one way you will go. From then on you don’t look back but go your one way.
So in a sense, making a good decision is like cleaning the house, it can create a lot of clarity and fresh energy. On the other hand, making a bad decision – as in my case above with the new home – will probably create more confusion as there was in the first place.
Especially when the decision is more complex it can be important to first define exactly what are you going to decide about.
So making a good decision has always 4 phases:
1. Define Exactly the Decision to Be Made
2. Gather Information
3. Make the Decision
4. Execute the Decision
Especially gathering information can get tricky. You can either dismiss it too early and not look at all factors, as in my new home case where we didn’t looked at the noisiness of the place, especially at night. Or you can overdo your information gathering and end up in a kind of paralysis by analysis.
And after you made a decision it’s important not fall back and question your decision again. You probably know that scenario well, when you made a really difficult decision and afterwards you are in doubt if it was REALLY the right decision?! Doing that takes away a lot from the power of your decision and would cost you lots of emotional energy. So after you made the decision you need a bit of self-discipline to not go back anymore.
Fortunately we can train our decision-making ability. So if you make decisions a lot, it will get much easier and faster for you.
For the actual process of making a good decision, here is what works for me:
How to Make the Right Decision?
1. Listen to Your Heart
From my own experience I learned over and over again that with big decisions always go with your heart.
That means always listen to what is not necessarily at the top of your mind, but what your conscience whispers you about the decision to be made. Look at the reasons where these “whispers” come from. Are they based on fear? Do they try to protect you, maybe from growing? Or are they based on experience and on a deeper truth that you can sense from the inside?
In my new home scenario, I simply wasn’t satisfied with any of the offers. So my heart didn’t tell me something is right. That’s an interesting situation when you are faced with only “bad” options for your decision. More on that below…
2. What Are the Important Factors?
The second part is to use your mind. Get clear about what factors are important, most important, and what is of lesser importance for you. Make sure to get all the important facts.
The Decision Matrix
If you want you can create a so-called decision matrix (more about weighted decision matrix) which I used in the past with good impact. The thing is of course not to get lost and make your decision solely on these mind-based analysis, which obviously entails the danger of getting to theoretically and emotionally detached.
In my bad decision above I 1) didn’t realize that the environmental noise is such a big factor for a good home and also 2) didn’t gather enough information to realize that it is in fact too loud at the place. The reason for that was because you didn’t follow rule 3 and 4:
3. Take Your Time
Pressure can speed things up, but it is always a bad counselor to make a decision. When you feel overwhelmed or even pressured try to step back and get some room to think clearly. Taking some time and a step back is generally a good idea. It can help to get a clear head again and look fresh at something.
This is especially true when you feel emotionally trapped in some way. Let’s say you are feeling down or you are unsatisfied with the options you have. Try to take some room and time to make a sound decision for all involved.
4. Know What’s Right for YOU
When there are more than one person involved it can get tricky to find the right compromise. Compromise is not the best word, since it already suggests that the people involved have to give in to their ideals one way or the other.
So what I really mean is to find a synergy. A synergy is when the sum of the parts is greater than the single parts alone. It’s not always possible but it’s worth looking for.
In any way, make sure that you keep your own needs in front of you.
5. Look Out for New Options
If you feel there are no good options, those that would really satisfy you, maybe there are other options our there. Maybe you need to reframe the situation and take a different angle to look at it!? Maybe you have to wait and look deeper.
The decision of whether you have to wait for better options or to get what is right in front of you is always difficult and more an art than anything else. When in doubt, I always go back to point 1 and look what my heart is telling me.
On the other hand, if you are faced with too many possibly ways to go, try to compare them to each other and eliminate all but the very best options.
Not Deciding is a (Bad) Decision Too
Sometimes it’s so difficult that you can’t really make a decision. Remember that without a conscious decision you lose control over the situation and it then controls you. So not deciding is almost never a good option.
So coming back to my example of renting the wrong home, with this decision I failed in point 3, 4 and 5. I felt pressured, did not listen 100% to my very own needs and I also had the feeling of running out of options, which wasn’t true of course.
How do you make your decisions and what were difficult decisions you made in the past?