I was sitting at the table with some family and friends the other night celebrating a birthday. We had decided to frequent one of the local fish restaurants for the festivities, a place where we had gone many times before. It was always fun when we could coordinate our schedules and have a good time laughing and telling stories (some true and some not) about one another while sharing our latest life events.
As we sat briefly in silence, mulling over the many entree selections in the menu, each person began asking the other what they were going to have. I listened half-heartedly to various items being mentioned as I had already chosen my meal of the evening.
“I’m having the salmon,” I heard someone say, while another said, “I think I’m going to try the Rainbow Trout.” Then the fun began and the indecisiveness ensued. “I don’t know what I’m having yet. What do you think?” said one person. “I don’t know either,” said another. And then this was the best. “I’ll decide after everyone else orders.”
We were at a table of educated, business-minded people raising families of their own, but it seemed nearly impossible to decide what to order for dinner.
Why was it so hard to make a decision? I mean it was just dinner for goodness sake. We weren’t rewriting the Declaration of Independence. I know that this happens more often than not and there are plenty of examples in which people simply have a hard time making a decision from a meal selection to choosing their 401K investment choices and everything in between.
So I thought I’d shed some light on the subject and offer a few suggestions to make the decision-making process a bit easier.
Tip 1 – Determine the best choices to the problem you’re addressing
In every situation, there will always be choices; some better than others. With that in mind, choose three options that will be the best selection for the subject at hand. In narrowing down the options, you will find it to be much easier to make a final decision.
Tip 2 – Weigh out the pros and cons of each option
There are many factors involved to making a decision. It could be based on your emotions at the moment, the time involved, the location, who you will need to consult, finances that may be affected or the time it may take to make something happen.
Let’s look at a couple of examples.
If you’re going to be throwing a party and you have three months to plan, time will not be as much of a factor allowing you to be more selective about the venue. However, if you just found out that you will be planning the party and it is two weeks away, you will need to make a decision on the location immediately.
You may want to have it at the beautiful country club that everyone has been raving about, but time does not permit nor does the budget. So you look into another venue, perhaps not quite a spectacular, but one that will fit into the calendar and the budget. No need to consult with others. You must make a decision with the data you have and know that when it’s all said and done, everyone will have a wonderful time.
What about changing your hairstyle? This is a big one for the ladies. We will often think about this for weeks or even months. We will look through magazines, ask friends and even get advice from family members we haven’t talked to in years. We want to be sure that our decision will be one that leaves us feeling good and looking spectacular.
But what if something goes wrong? What if after weeks of contemplation and planning, the beloved hairstyle you were so eager to try comes out looking every way other than what you had thought in your mind? It may feel that the world is coming to an end, but in reality, everything is fine. It’s just hair. It can always be recolored and it will grow back. You will find a way to make that new “I can’t believe my hair looks like this” style one that says you are confident and empowered. You will own it and others will love it.
Tip 3 – The sooner you come to a decision, the sooner you can relax and enjoy each new day
When you are in the contemplation mode of decision-making, it can be stressful. You find yourself playing the “what if” game and thinking that somewhere, somehow, you will fail, either yourself or someone else. Give yourself a break. At the end of the day, I’m here to tell you that no one cares about how you’re feeling but you. The people around you are enjoying life and doing the things they like to do. You need to do the same. So make a decision and start living. If it’s the wrong one, it’ll be fine. No one will even remember or some may never even know.
Tip 4 – 99% of all decisions will never matter as time goes by
You won’t remember that you had Rainbow Trout at your cousin’s birthday party last year. No one will remember that you decided to wear jeans instead of a skirt at the company picnic. No one will remember that you chose the small cap fund vs the mid cap during the last half of the previous year. No one will know that you gave your sister a spa package for Christmas instead of a necklace set (because she loved the spa package).
What people will remember is how you acted during a crisis and that you handled the situation. They will remember that you always treated them kindly and with respect. They will remember all of the times you helped out when no one else did and that you always made them laugh when times were tough.
Don’t worry about the small stuff. It will take care of itself. Just enjoy being you and put your best foot forward making the most educated decisions you can along the way. You’ll be happier for it in the end.
What are some tips that you can share when you are making decisions? Here are some other tips to help you along the way.