How To Make Effective Decisions

When we have to make difficult decisions, the first thing we usually do is to go ask somebody for their opinion. The funny thing is, that what that person tells us doesn’t really help us make the decision. It just gives us an idea of that person’s perspective through the lens of their own life experience.

I recently had a big decision to make. One that would change the direction of my career. I asked friends, colleagues and mentors for their opinion on what I should do. In the end, while I received some great advice and insight, it didn’t really help me make my decision at all.

In fact it made it more difficult to make the decision because everyone else’s opinions kept adding more and more complexity to the situation.

I think the best way to make a difficult decision is to think long and hard about what you want to do. Look at all the information you have in front of you and realize that you may not know the right choice to make. But you have to make a choice. Make your decision and stick with it.

Also, keep in mind that you will at some point regret your decision. Not because it was the wrong course of action but because it is human nature to doubt ourselves. When you feel that regret, be firm that you made that choice for a reason.

I heard a great quote once (I forgot who said this) about making decisions. “I’ve never made a wrong decision in my life. When I faced a decision, I made a choice and then spent the rest of my life making it right.”

48 comments

  1. my 21 year old son needs to read this – I am going to bookmark it for him to read later today – so very wise and succinct — particularly the part where we always doubt our decisions at some point –he is at that juncture right now, even though his original decision was a good one

    1. Thanks for reading the post. I hope your son enjoys it as well. Decisions are tough but at some point we have to make a move.

  2. This may sound weird but taking a walk around the block backwards also helps. LOL. Funny but true. It helps you to think about walking backwards and about nothing else. When your trip around the block is over, start to walk forwards again, and i guarantee you your answer will come:)

  3. I recently read a quote in a magazine related to your post topic. I printed it out and taped it to my agenda as a faily reminder:

    Don’t be afraid to dream big, make decisions, and take risks. If you succeed you’ll be happy. If you fail, you’ll be smarter.

  4. Matt, this is the single most insightful post I’ve read for a long time. That quote is one of the few gems of wisdom that has the ability to change lives. I hope you make your decision wisely, and with careful deliberation. When you make it, forge ahead, as best as you can, with all your intellect, your fury, and your might.

    Live passionately. Let your decision consume you and your life. Grow with it, fail with it, succeed with it. Do that, and you won’t have time to let doubt grow and consume your mind, and that decision will ultimately be more right than any decision anyone else has ever made.

  5. Reblogged this on My.Thoughts.Vortex and commented:
    food for thoughts.
    i have learned not to look back to hard decisions that i’ve made. after all nothing is perfect, but we have to try our best to achieve it when we have to take a burning decision

  6. Personally I rarely ask for other peoples opinion when I need to make a decision because “I know best”. Well, often I do, BUT, the times I ask other people to help me with ideas, they are ALWAYS invaluable. Just like you said, the more people you ask, the more complex the decision making will be wether you stick to “your” solution or your “friend/colleagues”. More complex is a good thing, cause it means you have┬┤new information that can help you take a better decision. There is One Optimal Solution, your task is to get as close as possible to that. Have a nice day.

  7. I am going to re-blog this (thank you).

    I have spent a massive part of my life getting lots of opinions on lots of decisions & like you say it just dilutes & confuses. I agree – Make a decision, Stick to it & work at it!
    I attended a “Sales workshop” once a few years back & the trainer was asking us all to pretend there was a tightrope in the room, he asked us (about 15 people) to line up to climb up an imaginary 30 foot ladder to the tightrope.
    About 12 people did it.
    He then came to the 3 of us still seated & said:-
    ” You 3 cannot make a decision because of the fear. You fear the thought of falling & that’s why you cant even make the decision to line up”.
    Sheepishly the 2 ladies with me looked down at their books.
    As he went to walk away, I piped up – “No, you’re wrong!”
    He turned & asked quite boldly “Am I”?
    “Yes” I replied.
    “I made a decision! My decision was not to look like a complete idiot – lining up to climb up a pretend ladder!”

    My point is, many people may not understand your decision, BUT as long as you do & as long as you believe in what your decision will achieve (yes you may have a slight regret, the trainer thereafter didn’t like me very much regretfully) – You should be OK!
    Great Blog
    Thank you
    Karin

    1. You mean you shouldn’t ask for other peoples opinion when you’ve got a problem? Sounds ineffective to me.

      1. Well I certainly wasn’t saying that, I have just re-read this page & cant see anyone mentioning “problem solving”, we were discussing the logistics of decision making (which can range from which magazine to buy in a shop to what destination for a holiday) so I’m a little confused as to your point?

      2. A decision requires a problem in the first place, otherwise you wouldn’t have to make a decision. Example, “Which magazine should i buy? Time or Vogue?” or “Where should I go on my holiday? Miami or Paris?” You have a problem, i.e. don’t know where to go or which magazine to buy. You have to make a decision.

        Example, Should I go to Paris or Miami? I choose Miami, that’s my dicision and I stick to it. The problem is that your travel partner would rather have gone to Paris, and the whole holiday was cancelled because you made I poor decision. If you would have asked your travel mate for his/her opinion before choosig the destination, you would have taken a better decision.

    2. Great insights Karin! Thanks for reading the post. I’m glad you stood by your decision in the sales training workshop. As you mentioned, once you make a decision, you should definitely stick with it regardless of what other people may think.

    1. Thanks for reading the post! I definitely agree that we are our own worst enemy. It’s always funny how much difficult decisions can cloud our judgement.

  8. I definitely appreciate your post! I have always been a “take an inventory and make a decision, then figure out later if it was right” type of person. Sometimes, if it is a big decision, write that “pros and cons” list. Sleep on it. I had a business partner some years back who could not make a decision if he did not have enough information.
    I am always telling people “the future is coming, whether you like it or not”. I help people have options as a result of taking action today. Some do nothing. Others end up stressing obsessing and panicing over something that may happen. (not my goal!)
    But as I learned about investing in college, make the investment. Then regularly review it and make sure it is on course (more often than once every ten years) and make little adjustments along the way.
    Keep the great articles coming!
    Dave

  9. Hi Matt!
    I once read a quote that spoke directly to me: “Fail ’til you succeed.” Failure is not an end, to me it simply means I was going in the wrong direction, so I turn around and take another step in a different direction, eventually I’ll find my way and it will be the exact road I needed to take.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking the time to comment!

    1. Great quote Debra! It reminds me of the quote from the film Batman begins. It goes “Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up. “

  10. Hi Matt,
    I love what you’ve been saying, I was just wondering why you stopped blogging recently? Your stuff is great and I’d love to hear more. It’s definitely true that we all have doubts about our past decisions, and that often that’s just human.
    Hope to read something new from you soon

    Another Matt :)

    1. Thanks Matt! I really appreciate you following my blog. I’ve been neglecting the blog a little bit recently as I’ve been on vacation and have been working on a couple of other projects. I will definitely be continuing regular content updates in the next few weeks.

    1. Thanks for reading the post! I was listening to a Success Magazine Audio CD this morning and Dr. Mehmet Oz mentioned that all young people should know that in order to achieve your goals, you have to make lot’s and lot’s of mistakes.

  11. Reblogged this on Living Life… and commented:
    So true. However, you make your decisions based on all the information available to you at the time. That is why it is called an “informed decision”.
    However, you might not have had access to ALL the information when you made the original decision. It is therefore OK to review your decision when NEW INFORMATION becomes available to you. If your original decision does not produce the outcome you were hoping for – no matter how well you acted upon it – I suggest it’s time to review that decision. Check you information sources and try to gain more insight through better quality information – and yes – if needs be, make a new decision and ACT upon it.
    As the great Jim Rohn used to say, “if you don’t like where you are – move! You are not a tree.”
    As humans we fortunately do not have to keep on living with unwanted consequences. As Tony Robins said, “if you don’t like the outcome, change your input.”
    It is however good to have a trusted person or two in your life who can guide you to find better information – ultimately however, you are the one who have to make you own decisions – as you are the one who must take responsibility for the consequences.

  12. So true. However, you make your decisions based on all the information available to you at the time. That is why it is called an “informed decision”. However, you might not have had access to ALL the information when you made the original decision. It is therefore OK to review your decision when NEW INFORMATION becomes available to you.
    If your original decision does not produce the outcome you were hoping for – no matter how well you acted upon it – I suggest it’s time to review that decision. Check you information sources and try to gain more insight through better quality information – and yes – if needs be, make a new decision and ACT upon it.
    As the great Jim Rohn used to say, “if you don’t like where you are – move! You are not a tree.” As humans we fortunately do not have to keep on living with unwanted consequences. As Tony Robins said, “if you don’t like the outcome, change your input.”
    It is however good to have a trusted person or two in your life who can guide you to find better information – ultimately however, you are the one who have to make you own decisions – as you are the one who must take responsibility for the consequences.

    1. Great points Will! I am also a fan of Jim Rohn and Tony Robbins. I agree with everything you’ve said; however, I think that indecisiveness can be a result of not thinking enough about the decision or not having all the information. Thanks for reading the post!

  13. I love what will stated. you are not a tree you do not have any thing stopping you when you don’t like the decision you have made. however when trying to make an informed decision I still like and yes it some times is more complexed when you get the views of others. but you see it from new eyes and it is just information that even a word can spark a new thought on the whole subject. I do understand that I make the final decision by what ever the reason is that I have made or formed. The key factor is that you made a decision and you are putting in action your plan. some folks never make it past that point. And I may add that when you find that it is wrong. it is not the end of the world. you can change any thing(most things) and you get a big learning browie point for taking action. we are human so every thing is not going to work out all the time or be wrong all the time. life is like that you take the good, the bad, the ugly and the pretty.

  14. Great post. I switched career paths 2 years ago and for nearly a year I struggled with finances and would constantly ask myself, “did I make the right decision?” I am now so very thankful that I made the decision I did. I am the happiest I’ve ever been and I’m better monetarily than I was in my old career. With that said, I’m glad I didn’t listen to others advice and took the risk. Like your post says, people give great insight but can cloud your judgement and make your tough decision even more difficult!

  15. I believe this falls under, “step out of your box “, take some risks because the final decision is ours and we are the ones who will succeed or fail in what we do. Nobody should have to answer for those choice. Matt Chong, I hope you succeed!

  16. This is great—

    I wanna say that ur ending quite is attributed to Churchill, but then again he is just a very quotable/quoted individual.

    As for the decision making process in general, “the Tibetan Book of the Dead” is mostly about the ‘knife-edge’ of the living process.

    Riding the fence is an easy place to be— but I find more people tend to respect those who are certain in their decisions. “waffling” is cheifly what we look for when discrediting a candidate in a debate–is it not?

Leave a Reply