Decisions. What to eat for breakfast. How much coffee to have. Which route to take to work. What to listen to on the radio. What to do first. What to do later. When to take a break. Which shoes to wear.
Just some of the decisions we have to make within a few hours of waking up each day.
And we haven’t even gotten to the part where the decisions are hard.
Why decision making is hard
Because what if we are wrong?
That is what it comes down to. What if we make the wrong decision. Because whatever we are doing now may be wrong but at least we know what it is and what to expect.
Because if we make the “wrong” decision we have only ourselves to blame, creating a double problem.
And the more complex and consequential the decision, the stronger is the fear of making a mistake. The irony is that the more complex and consequential the decision, the less likely is the decision to be that binary.
What is a decision
The word “decision” has had a long and wandering journey. Through middle English, French, Latin, and all the way back to Etruscan or even earlier.
The most agreed-upon etymology of the word is that it is made up of “de”, meaning off, and “cide” meaning to cut or to strike. Put it all together: to decide is to cut off.
Decisions are not about what you should do: decisions are about what you won’t do.
Decisions by process of elimination
And what if that is the secret to making decisions easier? What if we went through the process of elimination?
When confronted with a tough decision, start with a list of everything you won’t do and why you won’t do them.
What you will realize, through this exercise, is that the options for what you will do are varied, and not quite so daunting as you thought.
Learn to go through decisions without anxiety. For helpful exercises and ideas, see the Lead chapter of my book, Phrases for Business Success.