This, that or the other? How do you decide?
Making decisions is an ongoing activity in the life of a human. Everything we do requires making a choice, be it choosing what to wear, what to watch on TV or deciding how to reply to an email. Even mundane choices like purchasing toothpaste requires sifting through a dizzying array of possibilities before landing on a final choice.
Just deciding what to eat, for example, entails an average of 226 decisions per day according to researchers from Cornell University. On the whole, the average adult makes about 35,000 “remotely conscious” decisions daily.
For company leaders, that number is considerably more. It’s no wonder that Steve Jobs was always seen in black turtlenecks, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers. By wearing the same thing every day he could devote his decision making capacity to important company matters. Of course, this move involved making a decision to do so.
There are a variety of strategies we use when making decisions.
Sometimes we just go with the first option presented to us so we can then move on to other things.
At other times we favor the option that is most comfortable and pleasing to those who will be affected.
We might delegate the decision to someone else and task them with making the choice so that we don’t have to.
Avoidance is another strategy. While putting off making a decision can be a strategic move, very often it is in response to feeling overwhelmed or not liking the options available to us.
Another approach is to prioritize which decisions will have the greatest impact and put most of our thought, energy, and effort into those.
An alternative strategy is to balance all the factors involved in a decision and weigh out the pros and cons. Often, this is what we tell ourselves we do so that we can feel confident in the choice we made. But to actually be this thorough with every choice we encounter would leave us with no time for anything else.
What is your go to strategy when making a decision? You probably use different strategies for different decisions or some combination of the above approaches.
Enhancing your awareness of your decision making process, allows you to be more deliberate as you decide how you will go about deciding.
Next week we’ll talk about other things that creep into our decision making processes and influence our choices. (Hint, they’re called biases).