Life is full of big decisions. Not just what kind of coffee to buy or what socks to wear, but really big ones. And you don’t want to make a mistake you will have to live with for the rest of your life.
Such mistakes are often the result of rushing into big decisions without going through the full range of due diligence available to you. Ironically, one of the motivators of rushed decision-making is procrastination. When you learn how to stop procrastinating and get things done, you will be less likely to rush in where angels fear to tread. There is a strong link between procrastinating and rushing that looks something like this:
You have a big decision to make but you put it off. You know you have to do something about it. But there is always something more interesting to do. After making all the excuses and leaving it to the last minute, you realize that you no longer have any more time. In a rush, you make a panicked decision that ends up costing you dearly. The first thing you have to do to break this cycle is realize that procrastinating is not the same thing as taking it slow and weighing all your options. Here are a few more tips for avoiding rusted decisions:
Slow Things Down
The bigger the decision, the more deliberate you should be. Deliberation comes when you can slow things down and defuse the emotion and immediacy of the situation. Take a purposeful stroll to your coffee station, grind your beans, and produce a soothing hot french press coffee that will relax you while keeping your mind sharp. In moments of decision, you need to still your body and quiet your mind. Kipling said it best:
If you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…
During times of crisis, the one that rises to the occasion is not always the fastest or strongest, or even most experienced. It is the one who can keep their head when everyone around them is losing theirs. One of the oldest sales tricks in the book is the creation of artificial scarcity. In times of real scarcity, people buy and hoard. Their decision-making faculties are short-circuited by the emotion of the situation. That is what salespeople try to reproduce when they suggest that this price will only be available for the next few minutes. Don’t get bullied into making an immediate decision. Deliberate action is a little slower, but a lot better.
Look into the Future
In the news, you will find debates about the long-term impact of tax plans wherever taxes are discussed. That is as it should be. Big decisions usually have big impacts. That is what makes them big. You cannot make a big decision without becoming a bit of a fortune teller and looking into the future to determine the impact of that decision. Long-term thinking is not just for politicians.
When you are ready to buy a car, you have to face the decision of buying a new or used. That is only after you decide to repair the old one or replace it. The difference between buying new vs. used is mostly price. How much per month are you willing to pay and how long are you willing to pay it? This decision might seem easy if you have the income to support it. But what happens if you lose your job and are stuck with several years left on your loan. That is the heart of long-term decision-making. When you master that, even your quick decisions will be better.
Run It by Someone You Trust
Sometimes, big decisions are too big for just one person. You don’t have to yield your right to make the decision. But it usually helps to run it by someone you trust so they can see the issues that are in your blind spot. We all have blind spots. So before you shoot from the hip and take the bull by the horns, bring in another opinion and consider it from more than one perspective.
Big decisions require deliberation rather than the immediacy of emotion. Avoid rushed decisions by slowing things down, looking into the future, and getting a second opinion.