How to Overcome the Ten Biggest Mistakes in Decision Making
By LeAnn Thieman
Sam, a corporate lawyer with a
stressful job, recently admitted, “I really wanted to be a lawyer
growing up, but I didn’t realize how much time I would be spending
away from my family and friends.” Because he spent so many years in
school and so much time honing his legal skills at a top-notch firm,
Sam felt “stuck” with his job. Then he realized he could make a
change. Sam remembered why he went into law in the first place – to
help families in need – and took the necessary steps to switch his
corporate law career to one in family law. By using the steps below,
Sam was able to make a positive change in his life, by carefully
thinking through his decision.
decisions about our careers, our families, and our lives is not
always easy. Following these ten tips will help you avoid the
common mistakes people make, while also making better personal and
Not taking enough time: Sometimes we make decisions impulsively,
under times of stress when the adrenaline is pumping. These are not
the best circumstances to make any decision, big or small. You’ve
likely been in situations like that. You’re in a meeting, and
someone calls for help on a project. Instinctively, you raise your
hand, and you are it. You are involved, and you said “yes” again
before really thinking it through. Other times, decisions are made
too quickly because of misspoken words. Too often, in the heat of
the moment, angry or hurtful words are said in haste, without
forethought, and lives are changed forever. By simply taking more
time to think about the pros and cons of your decision and weigh out
the consequences, you can help stop yourself from making a mistake.
Lacking peace: Bad decisions are made in stressful, chaotic
situations. Good decisions are made in a place of peace, when you
can take the time, space, and solitude to make healthy choices.
Even small, ordinary decisions should be made this way. Try taking
deep breaths in a quiet environment to evaluate the facts before you
decide. When a decision is big, maybe even life changing, get out
of Dodge, so to speak. Find a quiet place for an overnight stay,
unaffected by the stress and turmoil. It is there, in a neutral
place of peace, a good decision can be made.
Wallowing in chaos: Another mistake people make is wallowing in
the chaos of everyday life or listening to too many other people.
If it’s a choice that affects you, it’s critical to listen to your
own inner voice, which cannot be heard in the chaos. You can call
this voice intuition, conscience, a divine spirit, or higher
consciousness – whatever fits your belief system. That small voice
is your built-in guide. It must be listened to, respected, and
followed. To find that voice, get out of the chaos. Find quiet.
Be still and listen. Then follow that inner voice.
Not considering priorities: Occasionally we make decisions that
are not consistent with our priorities. We give lip service to one
thing, claiming it is a priority in our lives, yet we make decisions
that detract us from the very thing we say is the most important to
us. However, if we make a list or just think about the priorities
that are most important, we can make better choices for ourselves
and loved ones.
Failing to heed what’s best for you: Too often we decide things
without thought to our needs and wants. The same qualities that
call us to be responsible team members are the same qualities that
allow us to shortchange ourselves. Think of what is best for you.
That may not fall in line with what is best for your friend, or your
husband, or your boss, but you must listen to what is right for you.
Neglecting your values: Sometimes we make decisions that are not
in alignment with our values. The world would be a better place if
we all followed the “Rotary Four-Way Test”
in our business and professional lives: Is it the truth? Is it fair
to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned? After considering these
elements, make your choice.
Ignoring what’s right: Too often we make decisions that are not
right today, but we think they will be in the end. Perhaps we twist
the numbers just a bit, inflate the resume a little, or step on
someone on our way up, believing it will be worth it in the end.
That never works, especially in the end. It takes a lot of courage
to make the deep down, in- your-gut-you-know-it’s-right decision
today. Listen to that inner voice and trust that the rest will be
taken care of.
Avoiding the truth: Critical to good decision-making is telling
the truth. Many times we will say things to please others or avoid
saying something that will hurt. It’s important to ensure every
word that comes out of your mouth is true, whether the statement is
big or small. If the project takes two weeks, don’t say one week.
If it costs $200, don’t say $190. Honesty is indeed the best
policy. Will Rogers was right when he said, “Tell the truth. It’s
a lot easier to remember.”
Forgetting how to say “no”: To make good decisions, there are
times we need to just say “no.” This is hard for many of us to do
since we think we need to be all things to all people. The truth is
that we don’t have to give a reason for why we can’t help. All we
have to do is say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t. I have another
commitment.” That commitment can be taking care of our families,
our priorities, or us. When it’s hard, remember that it is only
when you step back that others can step forward. Every time you say
“yes,” it deprives another person of an opportunity. When you
decline, it gives them a chance to serve, to learn, and to grow.
Procrastinating: Sometimes making a decision is difficult, so we
postpone it. By failing to make a decision, you are making a
choice. No decision is a decision. Once you’ve made a decision,
own it. Doing so is the key to living with your choice. Avoid
using the words “have to.” It’s said that we don’t “have to” do
anything but die and pay taxes. Instead say, “I choose to.” Owning
up to your decisions and life choices is empowering.
where you are today is based on decisions you made in the past;
where you will be tomorrow is based on decisions you make today. Take time and use wisdom to make those decisions good ones.
these mistakes and making better decisions every day makes us better
people. As better people, we are recognized and offered better
opportunities, which in the end brings better rewards.
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