Decision Making for the Indecisive Decision Making for the Indecisive

The key to making good decisions is the ability to weight the available options without becoming lost in the details. Business leaders have long known the secrets of good decision-making and now you can, too. Each of the tools below can be time-consuming, but if you have a hard time making decisions, or find that you typically make bad decisions, this will not be time poorly spent.

The basics of making a good decision starts with using a system that works for you. Decision-making should be structured, analytical and focused, above all. These decision making tools each have their own imperfections and flaws, but you should be able to find one that suits your unique style.

1. Paired Comparison: If your style is aggressive and head-on, then this tool is for you. Create a table that lists each option side-by-side and weight each factor that impacts your decision by importance. Paired Comparison really is best in situations where various options are competing for similar resources or a course of action is not immediately clear.

2. Force Field: In spite of the science-fiction sound, this is a great tool for sensitive or potentially political decisions. In this method, you identify the pros and cons of a change and assign the amount of force each risk brings to the decision. Force Field can also help you determine if you are focused on the right problem in the first place. This tool is especially useful in designing a plan to strengthen those things that will be in favor of a particular change while finding ways to reduce the opposing forces. Force field helps clarify the risks associated with a particular change and determine if making that change is worth the cost.

3. Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA): This stand-by decision-making too simply asks you to identify the costs and the benefits for your decision. The trick with cost/benefit is to be sure to include all possible costs. Traditionally CBA is thought of in a financial sense, but costs do not have to be solely monetary; your time investment is also a very significant cost. In this method, you also consider the likely time it will take to receive the benefit. For example, if the benefit will come too slowly, if may not be worth the costs.

4. PMI: another stand-by, this tool requires you list all the pluses (P), minuses (M), and implications/interesting (I) of a decision in separate columns. Each item in your column should have a weighted value assigned to it. You find the best option when you add up your columns. This tool is most useful in checking that a selected course of action really is the best course of action.

5. The 80/20 Rule: Sometimes this is also referred to as the Pareto principal, or the law of the vital few. These tool involves identifying the greatest benefit with the lowest cost, effort or resources. It states that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent (or less) of causes. In determining which 20 percent of tasks you should focus on, ask yourself if you are doing something that aligns with your goals (or that you enjoy), that are essential, that you are good at, and that use your creativity.

6. Decision Tree: This tool is a very visual method for helping you choose between multiple options. Literally, a picture emerges that will map out the probably course for each decision. Sometimes this method is called mind mapping, and there is a lot of free software you can download that will draw these little maps for you while you plug in the details! You begin with the decision to be made, and each course of action is drawn as a “branch” leading away from the various choices. Then you continue to map all the possible results of each action until you reach the end. From there you have a detailed decision tree to help you evaluate the impact and relative worth (or harm) of each outcome.

7. Go with Your Gut: In this method you flip a coin, consult a tarot deck or ouji board or just make a snap decision. Next you assess you gut feeling about actually implementing that course of action. If you have a lot of negative feelings, it probably isn’t a good decision for you, but if you feel at ease with your choice, it probably isn’t a good choice for you. This method also gives you a starting point for analyzing why you reacted to a particular decision. This can be a shortcut to getting at costs you may not have considered or any instances where a particular choice goes against your personal beliefs.

Making good decisions is an important and necessary life skill, essential for home and career. Poor decisions put you at risk for failure, low self-esteem and the inability to reach your goals and full potential. These tools should help you, by themselves, or used together, to make thorough, well-considered decision that will lead to more fulfilling choices and, eventually, attaining the success and calm you deserve.

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