How to be a Better Decision Maker by Implementing these 3 Changes
Updated: Jun 13
When have you made some of the worst decisions in your life? This can be committing to something you shouldn't have, or acting out in ways that isn't like your normal behaviour.
Undoubtedly, you have had, at least at one time, a moment when you gave into a request and said "yes," instead of "no." Or said or did something that you wish you hadn't. Then have to sort out the mess the next day, or try to figure out how your schedule will handle this new commitment.
As a leader, decision making is one of the most important skills in your life. The more you practice making decisions more self-assured you'll get.
How You're Feeling At The Time Impacts Your Decision Making Skills
Sometimes you have set backs and make bad decisions that aren't good for you. Most of these regrettable decisions can often be linked to your state of being at that time. You're tired, upset, intoxicated, overly optimistic, stressed, lonely, etc.
When you're in one of these states your awareness is reduced and you're not reflecting on how this will affect you in the future.
Your behaviour becomes more impulsive and you freely act on our emotions when you're not yourself. And you don't have the required discipline to control your behaviour.
"When emotions and feelings are impaired, we actually lose the ability to make decisions," says James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits.
You agree to commitments when you're feeling overly optimistic, even thought you have no time for it.
You send a text to your ex when you're feeling lonely.
You become more adventurous when you're intoxicated.
You punch a hole in the wall when you're angry.
You drive your car into another when all you can think about is getting home to sleep.
And say mean things to loved ones when you're stressed.All these things you do because you're not feeling like yourself.
3 Important Points to Improve Your Decision Making
I watched the Ted Talk, My Secret to Staying Focused Under Pressure, from Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, and he made some very important points which can make you a better decision maker.
"Stay in neutral." Don't be positive or negative. This keeps your emotions in tact and in a state where you can think clearly and objectively.
"You can have emotions, but don't be emotional." Managing how you feel and recognizing what you're feeling at that time, allows for better control of your state of mind when making decisions.
"How do I come through this better?" This has you exploring alternatives. When you have choice, you have more control.
Why It's Important To Monitor Your Behaviour So You Can Make Good Decisions
I've come to be aware that drinking alcohol makes me more agreeable. And there has been many times that I agreed to helping out someone when I really didn't have the time, nor the capacity to do so. Now I know where that threshold is that takes me from sociable and in control, to being overly accommodating and making bad decisions.
When you're outside your desired state you tend to be less concerned about how it'll affect your life and how it will affect others. You forget about the consequences in that moment and act more impulsively on your thoughts rather than thinking about your actions rationally.
How To Build Self-Awareness Around The Decisions You Make
To understand what neutral means to you, you need to establish a benchmark.
Think of the last time you made a clear decision that you felt good about. Was there very little emotion involved? Were you not feeling pressured by what others might say about your decision? And was there no sign of regret that followed?
What did you experience in that moment? What does certainty feel like? What does having complete control of your decision look like?
By being more aware of your behaviour you can recognize when you aren't yourself before it gains momentum, and before someone else tells you so. And when you practice going back to neutral you get better at controlling your behaviour, and make better decisions more often.
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Christine Hourd, ACC is a certified success and leadership life coach in Calgary, Alberta. She works with clients, online and in-person, to remove obstacles and create strategies to help them be better decision makers and leaders. Contact Christine to find out how Leadership Coaching can help you achieve your professional goals.