6 Techniques To Overcome Even The Toughest Of Hurdles In Decision-Making

6 Techniques To Overcome Even The Toughest Of Hurdles In Decision-Making

Making a decision is hard, especially when you're conflicted about the choice. Good news is that science has found ways to make the process easier.

You make a number of decisions on a day-to-day basis, some good, others not so much. Every decision has some motive or goal behind what you're trying to achieve but sometimes these can be difficult to make. On an average, you make simple choices from choosing between coffee or tea every day. But some can be more life-changing or momentous where we have to make the right decision or we end up losing out.

Times like these you end up finding yourself in a constant tug-of-war with your mind, debating whether it's the right move or not. You know that the choice you make will create a ripple that will affect your life. However, science has now come up with a way to change the way you make decisions and make the whole process easier on your mind and overall health.


Steven Johnson, who writes for the New York Times explains the art of decision making through ways that can act as tools to power the process. He's put together a foolproof set of ways that have been studied by different researchers on decision making, which eventually helped him change the way he made decisions. “Over the past few decades, a growing multidisciplinary field of research — spanning areas as diverse as cognitive science, management theory, and literary studies — have given us a set of tools that we can use to make better choices.”

Life always throws a bunch of challenges and obstacles your way, so having an algorithm to overcome that isn't an option, however, you can see it differently and use a different approach, one that won't stress your mind or put you between crossroads. Here are 6 decision-making techniques that can be relied on when you can't decide on something.


1. Make a carefully planned list of pros and cons

You don't need a list for making simple choices that can be made on a whim, it's the ones that make you debate or constantly put you on edge that need to be planned out. Science has come up with a different way to approach the pros-cons list. Make a list and assign a category an entry number from 0 to 1 based on your personal values.

So if it's love for your family you may assign it 0.9 to 0.95 but if it's not the same it could fall to a 0.2 or 0.3, falling under the cons. Add up each side, both pros and cons and multiply it by 100, whichever rules out, that could be your choice that wins. Sometimes, confronting a 'logical number' can shine a light on what your subconscious feelings are.

2. Understand how you decisions may affect your future

You can approach this by considering the best possible scenario and the worst one, balancing out an option that falls between the two. Psychologist Gary Klein talks about the technique called the 'premortem' which is the opposite of a postmortem through a classic Harvard Business Review story. Imagine dealing with a decision that can make or break your life, now think about the worst outcome that could happen from the decision you make and the go through steps that can prevent it. 

Research supports this technique as 'premortems' show 30 percent increase in identifying future outcomes and dealing with steps before it. You could also visualize a best-case scenario and how to reach it, making your outcome better than what you imagined it to be.

3. Avoid choices that are binary

Sometimes you can be stuck with choices that either falls one way or the other, where there's no middle ground or a safety net to lean on. Try to avoid such choices, which only poses one option or the other. See the choices available in between and make the best out of those. For example, you can't decide whether you want to move to Paris or Germany but you can balance it out by spending your summer in one place and your winter in the other. 


Sometimes there's no such thing as the right choice, rather you'll have to be creative about it and look for a way around it. That way you can experience the best of everything and not just have the option of choosing from two things. The solution is more flexible and nuanced that way.

4. Talk to people to get a different perspective

Getting an opinion from people can always add value to your decision, whether the opinion is something you like or not is out of the question but you'll be able to check it out with the information you hold and see if it can be changed. For example, if you want to shift your job from one company to another, don't just take input from people who are close to you, rather ask someone who's shifted to the company you wanted.

That way you can know about the steps they talk and how they went about the process. You'll have more clarity in making a decision you may or may not have to make. It's always good to have extra information and make use of it to help you make better choices and decisions in the future.

5. Give yourself time to think about it

Have you ever felt yourself questioning a decision that you've always planned to make? Just before enforcing the decision, you start worrying about if it's the right choice or not, constantly putting you at war with the choice you planned to make beforehand. However, you'll be surprised knowing that the decision you've spent time thinking through and planning always gets a better outcome, than the decisions you haven't thought about.

Giving yourself the time to think will enable you to chart out your plans, and look beyond what you're trying to achieve. Allow yourself to be open to the possibilities that could fall on your plate whether it's good or bad.

6. Don't follow the herd on a decision you have to make

Your decision is yours alone. When you find yourself unable to make a stand-alone choice, you follow what others have to say hoping that the outcome would be good. You may even feel like following a bunch of people is the right choice because they're all going into something together but it doesn't work out that way all the time.

There are decisions that you have inside your head but you haven't approached it or thought about it. These are decisions that only crop up at a crucial time when you're asked to make a choice. When you procrastinate or delay a decision, it's rarely a good one as it hasn't been thought out. You're just stuck in an illusion that you have extra time to think about the decision.

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