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If You Follow These 2 Rules to Make Decisions, You’re More Likely to Succeed in Life

If You Follow These 2 Rules to Make Decisions, You’re More Likely to Succeed in Life

It’s estimated that we make about 35,000 decisions every day.[1]

These decisions include: what to wear, what to eat, and what to say. In the latter case, you’re likely to have to decide thousands of times a day on what you are going to say to others. This could range from ordering your morning latte at your local café – to putting your point across persuasively in a team meeting.

Decisions… Decisions… Decisions…

They are constantly needed for us to actively partake in life. However, were you taught how to make decisions at school? Probably not. It’s likely that you were also not taught that effective decision making is an essential component of success.

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To help you out, I’m going to give you a brief tour of what skillful decision making looks like, and how you can learn to do it.

You Don’t Need to Be a Know-It-All to Make Right Decisions…

There are two little-known methods of making great decisions. These two methods have been tried and tested over the years by the vast majority of the world’s most successful people.

Can you guess what these methods are? (Please compare your answers to what you’ll read below.)

Winners in Life Make Decisions Quickly

  • Indecision leads to mental fatigue. By making quick decisions, we can maintain our mental vitality, which gives us the best chance of making the correct decisions going forward. As an example… You need to decide on how to reply to a customer complaint letter but keep putting it off. This ongoing issue is likely to negatively impact any other duties or decisions that you need to make at that time. Instead, decide how to reply to the customer – and then write the letter.
  • Quick decisions put you ahead of your competitors. Imagine for a moment that you run your own company that sells computer software. Your industry is super-competitive, and you constantly need to offer new deals and new products to stay in the game. You hear about an exciting new piece of software that is trending across social media. However, you’re not sure whether the software will be a good fit for your business. You could choose to ‘wait and see’ how the software sells for other companies, or you could decide to take the plunge and become a reseller immediately. Luckily, you picked the latter, as the software proves to be one of the most popular releases for years. You won big, because you acted quickly.
  • Perfect decisions are a myth. I know what you’re thinking… Surely, if I spend time weighing up the pros and cons of a decision, I can come to the perfect conclusion? Unfortunately not. In fact, it’s a common misconception that a perfect decision is just waiting to be found. Think of it this way, if you seek the perfect decision, you are probably going to end up making no decision – and thus taking zero action. Successful people look for the best decisions, but they also understand that perfect decisions are few and far between. For example, if you’re looking for a new job, firstly decide what area of work you would like to do. Then narrow this down to specific roles. You may end up with just one role, but usually it’s better to keep your options open by having several alternatives.

Winners in Life Stick to the Decisions They Make

  • It takes time to see whether a decision was wrong or right. Let’s say that you want to move home to a city that you’ve always enjoyed visiting. You sell your current apartment, and then immediately purchase a property situated in the heart of the new city. After your initial enthusiasm has worn off, you begin to see the negatives: the city is noisy, it’s polluted, and you don’t know anyone. At this point, you could conclude that you made a bad decision. However, if you were to give the new apartment and city more time, you may change your mind. For example, you may discover quiet, green parks for relaxing in nature. You may also start to make friends with people you meet when you’re out and about. Eventually, you may come to love your new home.
  • It’s easier to make further decisions based on your initial decision. Career decisions are at the top of most peoples ‘difficult choices’ list. You may have one idea, but your partner or family may have other ideas for you. The secret is to reach a decision promptly – and then stick to it. This has a number of benefits. Firstly, once you have made a decision, you can get on with the required steps to achieve your career goals. Secondly, when you come across any challenges to reaching your goals, you’ll be able to take the necessary decisions within the context of your initial decision. This will help you to make the right choices – and with the least amount of mental effort.

5 Surefire Ways to Help You Stick to the 2 Rules When Making Decisions

While it may take some time to break your current habits, becoming a great decision maker is easier than you may believe.

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Implement the below methods, and watch both your decision making and success begin to reach new heights.

Set your decision criteria

The most important thing when it comes to decision making is knowing exactly what you want to achieve. If you’re not absolutely clear on your objectives, then it will be tough to come to any decisions.

Imagine that you were considering taking up a new hobby but had no idea where to begin. If you leave this to chance, you’ll probably end up doing nothing. A better approach is to analyze what you are already good at and enjoy. For instance, if you love listening to music, then learning an instrument might be a great hobby for you.

Stop endless information gathering

In today’s ‘information age’, we’re led to believe that researching all the facts and figures before making a decision is a necessity. This is okay, until you find yourself becoming addicted to unearthing more and more information about something. When this happens, you become a full-time researcher, and a no-time actioner!

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Break free from this ‘analysis paralysis’ by knowing when you’ve gathered enough information to make a good decision. You can see this demonstrated in detailed reports that always include an Executive Summary. For busy CEOs, the Executive Summary gives just enough information for them to understand an issue – and to make a decision on it.

Assess the risk/reward ratio

Every time you make a decision, there is a risk that something could go wrong – but also a reward if something goes right. Let’s say that you need to decide on a whether to accept a promotion at work. The new position offers more money, but also comes with more responsibility.

To make a decision on this offer, you would need to assess whether the extra money was worth the added responsibility. To give you another example, professional investors live by their chosen risk/reward ratio. Before each investment, they decide what the potential gains are, compared to how much they could lose. Only once they are happy with this ratio do they decide to invest their money.

Decide on a backup plan

However good your decision making, there will times when things go wrong (sometimes badly!). For this reason, it’s vital to always have in place a backup plan when making major decisions. Professional athletes are an excellent example of this. At any time, their career could be prematurely ended through injury. Because of this looming threat, most professional athletes have a backup plan ready to be actioned. This could be a university degree that will allow them to quickly move into a new career, or if they want to stay within athletics, then they may have taken the necessary training to become coaches or psychotherapists (for example).

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Create decision making habits

First-rate decision makers didn’t become that way overnight. Instead, they honed their decision making over months and years. You must do the same. Start by getting into the habit of making decisions promptly, and then sticking to them. If you struggle at first, then begin with small decisions, and then move onto the bigger decisions when you have more confidence to tackle them.

Outstanding achievers have learned how to be great decision makers. Fortunately for you, the secrets to their success have now been revealed to you.

Take this knowledge – and begin immediately applying it in your life. Decide to be successful. And then let all your future decisions lead the way to the top of Achievement Mountain.

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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