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Expert Speak: Decision Making - What to do when in doubt?

A kid walked into a candy store with his dad. He was amazed by the array of treats on offer. “What should I choose?”  He asked himself.

“Come on son, we don’t have all day,” his dad said.

“These are my favourites. No wait, these are my favourites.”

He walked along the passage, picking up bags and putting them back. He just couldn’t make up his mind.

“Quick son, make up your mind, we have to go,” His impatient dad said.

Frantically, the boy ran around the store, his eyes moving from one shelf to another, but all of the options looked so good and he couldn’t make a decision.

Eventually, the dad had enough, grabbed his son by the hand and they walked out of the store empty-handed.  The young boy had tears in his eyes.  He wanted them all, but ended up with nothing because he couldn’t choose just one.

All of us are that boy and the world is that candy store.

Decision making is an inescapable fact of life. We have to make decisions at every step of life. In fact we have to make decisions every minute from simpler ones like what to eat, what to wear to more complex ones like what career and financial choices to make.

We have a myriad of options available to us, but if we don’t make a decision about our career, education, relationships, investments, or other important issues, we end up empty-handed.

Sometimes we worry about making the wrong choice. People often say that they find it hard to make decisions.Some people put off making decisions by endlessly searching for more information or letting other people offer their recommendations.

We make thousands of decisions every day. Many are easy, but others are complex, stressful, or both.

Because there are so many decisions and they have impact on our results, costs, time, feelings, and relationships, thus how we make decisions is extremely important. This is why learning how to make decisions is one of the important aspects of our growth.

Decision-making is the process thatinvolves selecting action steps from two or more possible alternatives in order to achieve your goal.

A logical and ordered process can help you to do this by making sure that you address all of the critical elements needed for a successful outcome.

Let’s understand the process of decision-making with the help of an example – I was recently coaching a client who was excelling in his professional career as QA lead. But he thought that he had a flair for coding and thus wanted to move to the development side of business. He was confused whether he could plan a transition at the age of 30 with 6 years of experience in QA.

Here is a decision making process that I recommended that he follow-

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Brainstorm
  3. Examine pros/cons
  4. Prioritise
  5. Analyse
  6. Make the choice
  1. Identify WHY you want to make this transition. What is it that you want to achieve with this? Do you want to transition because of internal or external factors?
  2. Sit down and brainstorm all the things that matter to you the most when it comes to job/your career. What are you able to achieve in current role? What you will achieve in your desired role, type of salary, type of work, working hours etc. If you want to transition because you are unhappy with the current role, what will happen if you face similar challenges in new role? If it is because of your own aspirations, how much will you be able to go above and beyond to upskillyourself.
  3. Recognise and examine pros and cons of each situation. Doing a SWOT analysis helps at this point.
  4. Go back to the list after brainstorming; choose top 5-7 items that are of most importance to you.
  5. Analyse each option, the effort you need to put in, the impact it will have on you and your family. Finalise the option and action items required.
  6. With the information that you have gathered up till now, you will be much better placed to take an informed decision thanks to the process that you followed so far.

After following all the steps, it usually becomes a lot clearer as to which option is the better fit. Whether you should continue in current role or move towards your desired role. And if you really see the possibility to transition, how can you do that and act!

This process can be customised to any situation or problem in hand for an individual or teams at workplace.

So there you have it. No matter what decision you have to take in life, following these steps will definitely help you choose the best course of action. And remember, the confusion or stress that you feel about a decision is only until you have chosen an alternative. Once you make that choice, you’ll feel much more relaxed and stress free.

About the Expert:

Ms Piyush Mahajan is a certified life coach and soft skills facilitator. She has over 11 years of experience in the GeoSpatial industry where she worked as a senior data specialist. Having found her life’s calling, she gave up a promising career as a Data Specialist and decided to become a life skills coach.

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