Do you struggle with making the right decision?
Would you like to know how you can make better decisions?
From my own experience, I have discovered four decision making traps that I want to share so that you can avoid them.
- Lack Of Clarity
What drives you to achieve? What is your reason for working?
Do you know what the things that give you the greatest joy, that allow you to use your natural abilities so intuitively and easily that it feels like play rather than work?
With my first career, I was working to meet external indicators of achievement. I was not looking for ways to work from my purpose and strengths. To me, work was just something you did. And if it meant that I was seeking prestige, peer approval and the safety of conventional wisdom, obviously that was what everyone else was doing? I did not stop to ask myself why I was doing the work I did, or what I really wanted from my career. I never think about what unique qualities I might have that might persuade someone to hire me over another individual.
The most effective individuals have a very high level of self-awareness. They know how to play to their strengths and how to downplay their weaknesses. When you have a clear idea of who you are in the scheme of things and what drives you, you can make choices that flow from that knowledge. You can work from a position of clarity and strength.
- Allowed Others To Choose For You
When you are unsure of yourself, you are ripe to be influenced by others who "know" what is "best" for you.
They may mean well and even have your interests at heart, but there are some decisions you have to work out for yourself, even if you come by them the painful way.
Looking back, I made two very important decisions about my course of study and my career that were not my own. I chose what people said I should, and looking at the choices themselves, they seemed rational and sensible. But they were not the fruit of my own personal driving and weighing. I did not have the courage to shut out all those other well-intentioned noises and to trust to my own inner sense of what was right and wrong for me. It took another 16 years before I was able to change my career story.
Never depend on the approval of others for your happiness. We all have biases which are influenced by our experiences, our upbringing and what we read. No one can claim to be completely objective or know to know what is best for another person. You have been given wisdom, resources and opportunities. Use them and do your best to make the right decisions.
- Too Lazy To Do The Homework
Some decisions (like what to study or what career to take up) require more research and fact-finding than others (like what to eat for lunch). There may be no straightforward or obvious answers, so you may feel the whole process is too tedious and you start looking for shortcuts ("What does my best friend think?").
If the decision is worth making, it's worth doing it right.
Start by checking the facts. Make sure you are not working solely on your bias or an uninformed perception of reality. What is happening around you? What do news reports, respected sources and trend forecasters say? Now interpret and evaluate your facts. How do you feel about your decision? What does your intuition tell you? How does the outlet match up to your current situation, your beliefs, your preferences and your life values?
- Analysis Paralysis
Fact checking and getting it "right" can be an obsession for some people. It is possible to be so focused on making the perfect decision that you hold off choosing until you have the exact combination of factors you want.
Life does not always work that way. Sometimes, because of circumstances or limited resources, you are asked to choose the best from an imperfect array of choices. You can be flexible and make the best choice under those circumstances, and come back to tweak and refine your decision making process as you go along.
The worst thing to do is to do nothing and to allow yourself to get stuck in a rut. Being stuck is very disempowering. It is the opposite of life and growth and progress. "Use it or lose it" – there is great wisdom in that idiom. Let something idle long enough and you might lose all the goodness and potential that it originally owned.
Steer clear of these decision making traps. But if you do fall in, do not stay there and get comfortable at the bottom. Get help, get out and get moving!