Deciding When to Decide

Let’s face it; decision making can be tough especially when our decision or indecision can potentially change our lives and the lives of our loved ones. If you are familiar with my posts, I try to always tie in life’s issues with those of the workplace. For most of us, decisions about leaving a job, asking for a raise, speaking up against harassment (insert yours here) and the hundreds of other issues we face in the workplace do exist.  Often times we find ourselves making decisions outside of work to be much easier. In many cases there is less stress attached to decisions outside of the workplace and with far less pressure to be correct each and every time.  

The truth about making decisions is that the process is and should be exactly the same inside and outside of the workplace. The stress and pressure you may face in either or both environments is not necessarily due to the inability to decide, it is due only to your decision making process. For some, the fear of making the wrong decision often leads to not making a decision at all. In many cases not making a decision is worse than making the wrong decision. It is written that Henry Ford was fond of the saying, “When in doubt, do something, even if it is no more than to walk around the block and think what to do.”

Decision making is even more important when you are in a position of leadership. I’d find it hard to believe that there exists a great leader that suffers from indecision. Imagine the implications of an indecisive leader in any emergency situation. Think of all of the people who’d be left to suffer the consequences of their inaction. Now put yourself in that leaders shoes and imagine the desolation and sorrow they’d undoubtedly feel especially if their indecision lead to a loss of life, jobs, or privileges.

Fact is, it’s always better to make mistakes than do nothing at all. The odds for the decision maker are far greater than the indecisive person who makes no attempts at all. Fear is no excuse to not make a decision, at least not when you are equipped with a solid process. Listed below are some steps to help you achieve your desired outcomes when making decisions.


1.      Think Ahead: Be prudent and always do your best to plan to the end. Think as far ahead as you can to avoid being overwhelmed by the possible consequences of your decision, both negative and positive. Think about what could happen verses what will happen. The truth lies in the result of the decision and not in the decision itself.

2.      Be Realistic: When thinking ahead, do not assume everything will work out as you’ve planned. Sometimes examining your motives helps with this step. Discern fact from opinion. Collect as many facts as you can prior to deciding and know the difference between important and unimportant facts.

3.      Clear Vision: Keep the end picture in sight to avoid acting impulsively. Plans that are too vague will lead you to act from emotion and improvisation. “You cannot act for yourself if you are beside yourself, and passion always sends reason into exile.”-Baltasar Gracian

4.      Alternative Routes: Have alternative routes built in. Chances are your plan will not go as smooth as planned. Know what you are going to do versus what you are not going to do and do not deviate from these plans. 

5.      Seek Counsel: When appropriate, ask for help or learn from others who’ve made similar decisions. Taking a step back to consider other opinions or strategies is always better when you are struggling with a decision. Asking for help or guidance does not diminish the responsibility you’re accepting when you make a decision. Rather you succeed or fail; accountability and responsibility will be yours.

6.      Deep Reflection: Think about your decision as much as necessary without turning it into doubt, apprehension or vacillation. If you can see a reasonable end to the decision you are contemplating then don’t hesitate to make it.

7.      Make Mistakes: Learning from the decisions of our pasts is often the best lesson we’ll get. Decide to decide and grow from it. The risk of error and poor judgment exists for everyone but don’t be a fool, it’s easier to avoid trouble than it is to get out of it.

Tyrone RobinsonComment