One thing in life that seems to be constant is change. And with change comes choices. And choices lead to decisions.

How do you make decisions? Would you say you are a good decision maker? That it depends on the situation? Or do you suck at making decisions? (technical term, obviously!)

One more question…. How did you learn how to make decisions?

The answer to this one – first, from modelling others and second, by doing it yourself and amending (or not) from there.

I have met a lot of adults who really don’t make decisions well; and not surprisingly they never learned how to make decisions or the model they had didn’t make good decisions.

And I’m not talking about big, life altering decisions – I’m talking about what movie should I see? Where should I live? Should I leave my job?  Its getting a rhythm for these simpler decisions that will set us up for success for the bigger decisions.

Most often I find information that points to parents who always made the decisions and never passed on the skill to their children. Everything from what to wear, what to read, what to play, what to eat all the way to what to study and what to be when you grow up.

Making all of the decisions for a child doesn’t actually teach decision making skills, rebounding from bad decisions, success from good decisions, self trust, consequences or independence. I know that parents who do this are doing the best they know how to do – but it is so much easier to teach a kid how to make decisions that undo years of programming as an adult.

Decision Tip #1: If you are a parent, give your kids choices and teach them how to make good decisions. The use of ‘or’ statements is great for implied choice – “do you want to brush your teeth or put on your PJ’s first?’ and always follow it up with “good choice”. When choices don’t turn out to be good – communicate the other options they had to help them do even better in the future.

There are three main aspects I’ve been able to identify with a lack of decision making skills:

  1. Overthinking the options
  2. Too much emotion
  3. Looking to external validation

Some people overthink decisions – too many pros and cons, too much worry about what ‘might’ or ‘could’ happen, doing too much research and creating too much choice.

Yes – choice is better than no choice; but too much choice creates a dilemma!

If you have read Malcom Gladwell’s book Blink you’ll already know that humans are programmed to make snap decisions. Our internal awareness is so much greater than our conscious thinking could ever be.

Decision Tip #2: Trust your gut – its probably right. Give yourself a short timeline to make a decision – somewhere between 5 minutes to 3 days depending on the type of decision. If you need ‘evidence’ to back it up, gather no more than three things to compare, IF your gut tells you no… keep looking. If you are focusing more on the ‘what ifs’ of the future – come back to the now and trust your gut – sometimes the decision is ‘NO’.

If you have too much emotion involved in your decision that often makes making a decision harder. Emotion often means there is a possibility of failure, and who likes that? Emotion also sometimes means that the decision you make will affect your identity, or WHO you are. Now, some decisions will… but where to have lunch isn’t one of those decisions.

Somehow a lot of people have tricked themselves to believe that making trivial decisions is really important. Interestingly, the actual decision made isn’t what is important – it is the act of making a decision that is important.

The act of making a decision and then acting upon it builds self-belief, self-reliance and self-control.

Decision Tip #3: Ask yourself “is this decision significant?” If not – just make a decision and act upon it!

Teaching yourself now, as an adult to make decisions is actually more about helping you to trust yourself. Start out small and work up. The quicker you make decisions the easier it will become. And, the easier it is – the better decision maker you’ll be – on the small and the big stuff!