Your business needs you to make important decisions every day. But, with so much on the line, how do you make sure you're making the best one possible?
When faced with decisions, we humans are wired to seek out patterns to help make our choices. However, when we're faced with countless decisions — many of which do not offer a pattern to follow — we tend to develop what's called "decision fatigue."
Decision fatigue is a term used to describe the tendency of people to make poor decisions due to the constant pressure to decide something. Think about this; research shows that the average person has around 35,000 decisions to make each day. Yup, you heard that right. From deciding what you're going to eat for lunch, where you're going to go on vacation, what specific training is needed for your business, etc., your mind is constantly weighing options. When you add in the need to decide something more complex or major, fatigue can easily take its toll on the quality of those decisions.
The good news is that you can overcome decision fatigue, but it takes a little planning, preparation and practice. Here are six ways to help you avoid the productivity killer of decision fatigue.
No. 1: Be clear on the goal and the problem to be solved
In order to find a solution to a problem, you must first clearly define what the problem is. The problem is easily defined by having a clear goal that is right for the result you want. If you don't know what you want to achieve, that means you don't have a goal, and you can't solve a problem without one. Allow the overarching goal to take some pressure off and assist you with decision-making criteria.
No. 2: Determine what specific decision is at stake and why it's important to make that decision
At times we all feel overwhelmed and have no idea what to do. When this happens, you need to think carefully about which one of the decisions facing you is most important and deal with it accordingly. Even when things are "just on your mind" and don't need to be dealt with right away, it's helpful to determine ahead of time what course of action you're going to take if a certain situation arises. This is why I'm such a big fan of creating mission statements and guiding core values. When executed effectively, they can help predetermine decision-making in the business environment for all team members when faced with uncertainty.
No. 3: Build an argument for making the decision — it may not be about facts and logic
Some of the best arguments are ones that contain facts and logic but make no mistake that emotion is a huge driver in your ability to commit to a decision, especially difficult ones. You start this process by building a case for yourself about the pros and cons of making the decision at hand. Make sure that you present both logic and emotion to yourself and zero in on trusting your gut. The strength of the argument to yourself determines the level of commitment to the decision.
No. 4: List all of your alternatives, making sure you understand the consequences of each alternative
Next, you start to list all your alternatives. Don't worry about whether they are all viable alternatives or not. Your first job is to simply list your alternatives, regardless of which one you think is the best. It is only after you have created that list that you can move on to thinking about which option you will actually use. If you choose the wrong one, you will have to face the consequences. Try to pick your alternatives carefully. Try to remember the different consequences of each option so that you know which ones to avoid and which ones you can choose. You want to consciously list options so that once you decide, your subconscious mind will not keep jumping in with "what about this?" or "I should have thought of that."
Think about this; research shows that the average person has around 35,000 decisions to make each day. Yup, you heard that right.
No. 5: List your goals for the decision. What are you hoping to achieve by making that particular decision?
If you have a clear understanding of your goals and how you plan to achieve them, any decision becomes easier. Decision fatigue is so challenging because we forget the overall reason we're facing this decision in the first place. We're either looking to move toward something we desire or away from something we don't want. When you have clarity about your "why" for a decision, you can remove the negative emotion or fear of making the "wrong" decision much easier.
No. 6: Commit to a decision and begin learning from it
Once you've decided what you're going to do, it's time to start learning from that decision. Do your best to make sure that you have a plan to carry out whatever decision you make. Then take massive action. The game is won on the field. Yes, the quality of the outcome of the game comes from the quality of practice, but you have to be in the arena on game day in order to actually win. I personally don't believe in mistakes or making bad/wrong decisions. I only believe in results and education. Sometimes this means I make what the world calls a bad decision because I don't get the outcome I desire. That's fine; I just learn what I can and decide again with this new information on my side from what I've learned!
In conclusion, the key is to avoid decision fatigue by getting clarity about your goals, writing down your goals and keeping yourself focused on them. In other words, work on less more. Let that sink in for a moment. Based on the Pareto Principle, 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions and decisions anyway. So lighten up, be easy with yourself and have some fun!