(6 minute read)
Most questions are destined and designed to arrive at either a yes or no in answer. When was the last time you maybe ate a burrito? Alright, that’s pretty black or white.
Understandably there’s a lot of grey area we each must navigate in our lives – but you know what I’m saying, and you also likely know if I’m talking about you in personality of decision or indecision. So let’s move forward (the only way to grow) and get real.
Identify your style. Are you solid in the finality and acceptance of decisions made, or do you uncountably (and unaccountably) flop back and forth? When you eventually arrive at a decision do you still seek confirmation and validation from your peers? It’s okay, you’re human. Maybe you’re someone who takes his or her time in making a decision, though is content and unwavering once it’s made. Or, perhaps you’re the most unfortunate in situation, the one who is never satisfied even once the decision is made.
Me, I’m just your average hybrid. On the bigger life decisions, a blend of logic and intuition land me at decisive and satisfied in finality. Alternatively, when whomever I’m eating dinner with’s food arrives, I instinctively negotiate we share. Indecisive taste buds, I swear. Better question, who can resist a perfectly grilled scallop topped with bacon jam on a fluffy truffle mashed potato cloud, despite ownership, if it’s within arm’s reach? That’s just a plain call in sound judgment.
Decision or indecision alike, one is no better or worse than the next – but why not learn to improve your skills in agility full circle. Take a moment and healthy mental scan in knowing yourself, and in reading on, apply what you can and take what you will.
THE LAW OF COMPLEXITY
Break down the choices at hand to be made and who is involved in making those decisions.
Alike that saying, “too many cooks spoil the soup”; the same goes for decision-making. Those that need not be consulted, don’t consult them – especially if they are in a place of hierarchy and have delegated you the responsibility of management with instilled faith and competence. Do your job. If you want your hand held go back to the minor leagues. Authority and the ability to be decisive is a sign of leadership. Should a decision be a team responsibility (that you’re part of), research any necessary information and prepare your position in advance. The point is to have an opinion, contribute, and not waste other’s time (be an MVP not a weak link).
If it’s a personal matter, also look to who absolutely must be involved. Look at whom the decision impacts, the magnitude, and any ramifications that surround that decision positively or negatively. If you venture a decision alone when you should have consulted another, be prepared to absorb the affects. In clear communication and including others when they ought to be included, you mitigate the risk of ill necessary impact upfront (risk distribution 101 or perhaps known as proactive attempt in majority satisfaction).
Whatever the issue, personal or professional alike, combine complexity of the issue and trigger date (in arriving at decision). Little is exceedingly more frustrating than a lingering question or topic that need be addressed yet never becomes made or resolved. What do we call this? A waste of time. How is this avoided? Create a system of accountability. Evaluate the parameters and asses all parties that need be involved in making the decision. Include only those parties’s necessary, draft topics to be addressed in arriving at a conclusion, and set a date at which the decision must be made by. I mentioned this in not so many words two paragraphs up, though I can’t stress it enough.
The goal here is to not overcomplicate things, especially when situations are complex. Seek to understand the fundamentals and strip away the bullshit until you get to the core.
THE LAW OF URGENCY
Your timeline; does this decision need to be made in minutes, hours, days or years.
Alike prioritizing, we can only have one number one priority. Ask yourself where the decision fits into the grand scheme of the puzzle you’re assembling and go from there. In the workplace, if other’s are waiting on this decision in order to make subsequent decisions, i.e. we need your ‘numbers’ in order to calculate our quarterly goals, and in turn calculate our payout to shareholders and employees – you’re going to respond to that phone call, and in a timely fashion. What theme for the company’s holiday party that takes place in December but the question is being asked in June? Closer to the bottom of the pile. Being subpoenaed? Answer that call. Your spouse asks you about booking a holiday in the midst of trading hours as an equity trader? Put that one on hold. You get the picture.
Deciphering urgency in response and priority on a personal note? The number one item to bear in mind is mindfulness. Our personal matters may take a back seat to our careers from time to time, though the value should usually be flipped in opposition. Take care in allocating time to respond to those who deserve the time in your personal life. If you don’t, your prized career will only suffer. The mistake here is often that urgency in personal matters and relations can wait, though ultimately, they can’t. Excuses get old, communication is key, so make your decision and take action in response. If you must create a rain check, suggest an alternative or just flat out say no – it saves you the pain stake in having to go through this exercise again.
THE LAW OF SATISFACTION
With every decision’s gain, we give something up: trade-off’s. What are you willing to sacrifice in order to beget?
Are you confidently content or are you that person holding a “kick me” sign with your Linus blanket who just can’t decide even after the fact? Maybe you’re Pig Pen, and a perpetual mess. I hope you’re Lucy. She’s one to raise her voice and make her point clear. Then there’s Snoopy, banging on the piano blissfully drowning out the noise. I think we all channel that vibe from time to time in an attempt to Zen it out. Choose your battles, and your avatar; much of the time, mine is Bill Mahr.
It’s easier to make decisions when you have fewer options. Sometimes we have many options, other times we might have to seek harder to find an alternative. Timing is everything. I received a piece of advice from a friend one day and the message rang clear: some of us have more options than others, so we have more paths to test before arriving at one of solidarity. Touché, and being a creature of evolution is one to revere.
When choosing the lesser of two evils or the best or two great worlds, the decision is less difficult. Generally satisfaction can be reached without significant compromise. When we are faced with the decision to sacrifice something of significant value without anything to balance it out on the other end, we must (and I do mean must) make peace with whatever it is. Under circumstances where we lack control of outcome, chalk it up to your best efforts made with what you’ve been given to work with in that moment. Don’t reflect and regret, don’t envision and wish, live in the now. Forgive yourself (or the other person) if the circumstances require. Always do your best without compromising your values, – and the trade-off, whether it works in your favor or not, should be one you can leave in the dust.
Moral of this section, don’t be “je suis malcontent”, run passionately into the wind in “fuck yeah”. Life is a lot easier upon accepting reality (and the decisions we have to live with).
THE LAW OF FINALITY
The million-dollar question has been answered and here we are: are all decisions final?
Ask yourself prior to making life-altering decisions (okay, and small ones, too): can this be undone or reversed? A true test in choice, is putting yourself in the position of someone else’s shoes if you were giving them the advice; as in – would you take your own advice.
Trusting your gut is major. Applying logic, equally as fatal. Come up with a blend of the two. Should you really be grasping at straws and your inhibitions be blocked (grief and stress sit on the gut, and can block our natural flow), ask others who have experience in the area, or who have experienced your situation before. More often than not we aren’t the first to experience something, so why not gather information and build a mental comparison chart.
In summary, weigh your options, do no harm, and always ask yourself minimally, if you’re able to live with whatever the decision must be. Practice makes better 🙂
Peace for now, recently upgraded decision making skills, good looking.
photo source: Brendan Meadows Photography