What goes through your mind when you think about making decisions? Do you think, “I’m terrible at making decisions?” Or do you say, “I’m pretty good at making decisions, except when it comes to dessert.”
For the most part decision making is a learned skill. If you grew up with family members who were good decision makers, there is a good chance you will be a good decision maker. Of course, there are exceptions to this. On the other hand, if you grew up around people who were not good decision makers or who had a hard time making a decision, you probably did not have the chance to learn any of the skills required.
Do you think it’s important to be a good decision maker? I do. Making a good, deliberate decision is the starting place for taking deliberate action. When you make deliberate decisions, you are in control. When you don’t make deliberate decisions, you give up control to others or to circumstances.
Not all decisions require a formal process for making the decision, but for the important decisions in your life, you want to make sure you are making the best decision you can at the time.
If you could learn to make better decisions, would you? Knowing HOW to make deliberate decisions is a learned skill as well. There is actually one word that is the most important when making deliberate decisions. It’s the word PAUSE. Through the letters in the word PAUSE I will show you 5 ways to become a better decision maker.
P – Pay Attention. Before you make a decision and take action, stop and take time to think. Try the decisions on to see how each fits. Just like you try on a piece of clothing, try on your decisions by feeling, visualizing, and or imagining the results of each decision. Visualization is a powerful tool used by athletes and performers before they play a game or do a show. It allows them to walk through each action they will take on the field or on the stage before they are ever on the field or stage. This makes them much more successful when it’s go time.
A - Ask Questions. Ask questions about your decision and the potential outcomes. Depending on the decision you are preparing to make, ask questions about the decision you are about to make. Questions like, “How long is the commitment?” or “Will there be anyone else there to help me?” or “What is the expected outcome?” Ask whatever questions are relevant to your decision. You should also ask people you trust for their advice on the decision. Ask friends, family, co-workers, experts, people who have made this decision before. Ask them questions like “Does this decision seem to align to my strengths and what I do well?” and “Which side of this decision do you think is best for me?” and “What do you think would happen if I didn’t (or did) do this?” Questions are excellent ways to gather information.
U – Understand. This is from your perspective. Now that you have all the answers from your questions, ask yourself some questions so you can understand the affect this decision will have. “Should I really be doing this?” and “What is the end result I’m expecting?” and “How will this affect me and my family in one month or one year down the road?” and “What other commitments do I have that may need to change to make sure I am successful?” I’m sure you can think of more.
S – Suggest An End Date. This is a very important step to remember when you are making an agreement or a commitment to anything. Always set an end date. Don’t make open ended commitments. Instead of “Sure, I can help you on that committee.” say, “Sure, I can help you for 3 months on that committee. After that, let’s talk again in 3 months to evaluate how it’s going.” When you do this you stay in control of your time and energy. When your decision involves making a commitment, find a phrase you can say that will give you time to think, “I need to check my calendar. May I please get back with you by Friday?” Or “I need to check with my spouse. May I please call you tomorrow with my answer?”
E - Embrace Your Decision. Once you make you decision, commit to it wholeheartedly. Remember, saying, “No” can be a very good decision to make in some situations. Please don’t be afraid of “No.” You want to be looking for opportunities from this decision, not escape routes. Even when the decision is particularly difficult and you’re worried about hurting someone’s feelings don’t avoid the requestor. Be kind and honest in your response even when it is hard to do so.
There it is. Next time you have to make a decision, make sure you PAUSE. It’s easy to make quick decisions in the middle of an emotional situation or an emotional moment. When you PAUSE through these 5 steps, you make better decisions and you become a stronger decision maker.
Your Deliberate Decisions Determine Your Destiny.