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5 Tips for Lightning-Fast Decision Making

5 Tips for Lightning-Fast Decision Making

Our lives are defined by our ability to make decisions. Our careers, relationships, health—anything and everything about our present selves boils down to the decisions we’ve made in the past, yet some of us struggle with decision making. We may have access to data, plenty of options, and generally have everything going for us, but when crunch time rolls around we seize up. We just can’t make that firm commitment to a decision. Here are a few of the labels you may go by:

* Over-thinker
* Procrastinator
* Slow to act
* Analysis paralysis
* Perfectionist

Have you ever felt like you identified with any of these labels? If so then know that you aren’t alone. We are at the extreme of the decision making process, spending too much time thinking about our decisions, and not enough time acting upon them.

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Fixing our Decision Making

For people like us, we need to balance out our decision making processes with a bit of “rashness.” We need techniques that will help us dive in to our decisions head first and to stop worrying about the repercussions so much.  Here are 5 tips to help us balance out our decision making process.

1. The 2 minute rule

The idea behind this tip is to force action through a self-imposed deadline. It’s simple enough to incorporate: any time you have to make a decision, just set the timer and begin the process. The time limit forces you to quickly assess the pros and cons while quickly coming to a decision. The simplicity behind this tip makes it very accessible.

If you’re simply slow at making decisions, then this tip is a life saver. It doesn’t have to be 2 minutes either; anything from 1-5 minutes should work fine as well.

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2. Think black and white 

There are times when we have more choices then we need. Excess of anything can overwhelm and lead to analysis paralysis, so in this case, try judging your options simply as good or bad, which will simplify and quicken the process of weeding out the less optimal decisions.

This limited approach is ideal for the over-analyzers who insist on questioning every variable to death.

3. Put it in a hat

If all options seem to have roughly equal value, write down your best ones on separate pieces of paper and place them in a hat/bag. Your decision will be the one you pull out at random.

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This also works if you have a bunch of tasks you don’t want to do; these you could pair with a reward hat. Do a task, then when its done pull out your random reward from the other hat. This will help make the process be more tolerable.

4. Focus on the present

We can often become overwhelmed with the big picture, trying to see how our decisions will affect the future. The process is mentally draining, because you’re trying to see every step along with its every outcome. It’s better to save that energy for the task at hand, and simply try and make the best decision possible. Live in the moment, make a decision based on what will make the next step the easiest instead. Doing this for every step is a great choice for the chronic non-decision maker.

5. Embrace the idea of failure

Probably the biggest fear for us slow decision makers is that our decisions will lead to bad results. Compensation is then made by over-thinking the situation, causing us to question every aspect involved in the decision. Ultimately we run the risk of making no decision at all because we waste time and energy on useless questioning—this line of thinking must be rewired.

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Instead, we should see delaying the decision as worse then making a bad decision. Bad decisions can be recovered from and learned from, but not making a decision at all means we don’t get to determine how our lives unfold. A fear of failure means that some thing or someone will make that decision for you.

Closing thoughts

It’s rarely the case that the best decision to make is to not make one at all. Those who struggle to make decisions run the risk of letting their lives run them, rather than them running their own lives. This puts independence under constant threat, so it’s up to us to make sure that we are in control of our lives and our decisions.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you feel like you want to back away from a decision, because you don’t want your life to be decided for you.

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Ericson Ay Mires

Ericson is a writer who shares about work and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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