Every day, we are faced with life situations that we must confront. They require us to
make certain choices, and those choices aren’t always easy. But because all
decisions are the foundation for creating a life we love—or hate—it makes sense to
try to make good ones.
Unfortunately, the strategies for making good decisions aren’t something we’re born
with—but the process can be learned and improved over time with practice.
But what does it really mean to decide? Consider its Latin etymology: decider
meaning “to decide, determine,” literally “to cut off.” So, to decide can be best
understood as the process of “cutting off” any other possibility. That’s why the idea of
wavering after you’ve made a decision doesn’t make much sense.
If you’ve found yourself wavering a lot lately and want to become better at decision-
making, follow these key steps:
1. Clarify your purpose and identify your desired outcomes.
Clarifying the purpose behind your decision is the first step in the right direction.
Knowing your why energizes your thinking and encourages you to take purposeful
action that leads to results. It also helps you combat procrastination and confront
distractions when they arise.
But just knowing your purpose isn’t enough. You must also identify the precise
outcomes (the what) you desire to achieve. What’s the difference? Think of it like
this: The purpose behind deciding to lose weight might be improved health and
increased self-esteem. The precise outcomes you desire to achieve could be losing
50 pounds and lowering your cholesterol levels by 20 points. The point of this step is
to become laser focused and fuel your motivation to stay the course of the decision.
2. Create a solid strategy armed with tactics.
Now that you’re all pumped up, what will you do next? There’s no use in clarifying
your purpose and identifying your outcomes if you are not prepared to make
advanced movement toward your goal. You need the elements of both strategy and
tactics to execute the next phase of your decision.
To create a strategy, you’ll need to revisit the outcomes you identified in step one.
Each outcome will require a strategy, which is best understood as the “big picture
approach” you’ll need to follow in order achieve an outcome. For example, a strategy
for losing 50 pounds could be incorporating exercise into your daily routine.
But to get at the heart of execution, you’ll also need some tactics. Tactics are the
specific actions that you will need to execute to successfully carry out the strategy.
Here, tactics could include attending a Zumba class on Tuesday and Thursday
evenings, lifting weights at 6 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and running 2
miles with your best friend in the neighborhood park on Saturday and Sunday
3. Take immediate action.
Finally, no plan of action will work unless you do something immediately. Success
requires that you get the ball rolling. It sends a signal to the brain that you are
serious and forces you to shift from “mind mode” to full-blown decision mode. It’s far
too easy to procrastinate, even when you draw out an intricate plan. Instead of
deferring action and talking a good mental game, plan to set yourself up for success
by stepping boldly into the arena.
How do you take immediate action after you’ve done all of the above? Take one
strong step that will help you execute the first tactic. In this case, it could mean
buying new exercise clothes, setting your alarm for Monday’s weight lifting session
or scheduling the weekend running schedule with your best friend. Whatever you
select, just make sure it strongly aligns with overall strategy and helps to escalate
one of your core tactics.
Are you ready to make a real decision? If so, use these steps to help you achieve
the outcomes you seek and create new momentum in your life personally and
professionally. You’ll be glad you did!