Techniques to Be More Decisive
I recently spent a fun afternoon with a group of 5 old friends from my college dorm . It was really nice to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in 15 years, and it was even nicer that I stumbled upon a cool topic to write about.
It was interesting to see how everyone had grown and directed their lives. One became a CFO and dresses even more impeccably than he did during college. Another went into the military and one became an art gallery manager. There was also a computer programmer. A few were married, a couple divorced. And one, I noticed, was very VERY indecisive.
Something Reeks of Indecision
At lunch after chatting and perusing the menu for 10 minutes, she needed 5 more minutes to decide. When we went for ice cream, she waited for everyone else to be served so she could decide what to have. Heck, she even wants to close her art gallery but can’t decide what she really wants to do.
While I sympathize with her when it comes to the struggle of making major life decisions, her inability to be decisive in even the smallest matters really annoyed me. So much so that I told her about something I learned from my chance encounter with a spiritual master (the same master I wrote about in ‘A New Spin on Discipline’ – If you haven’t read that article you can catch up here!).
Simple Yet Profound Technique
And that lesson was: When it comes to making decisions regarding small things, like which restaurant to go to or what brand of deodorant to buy, experiencing a difficulty in making a decision implies that the choices are approximately equal. For example, if you can’t pick between Thai curry or a hamburger for lunch (a touch decision I often have to make), it’s likely that both of these choices are more or less equally appealing to you. If you did in fact have a strong preference, you would have already decided and would have never had to deliberate on the matter in the first place.
The master’s advice in such cases was profoundly simple. Since all the choices are about the same, it really doesn’t matter what you pick. Flip a coin. If you don’t happen to have a coin on your person, pick the option you didn’t have most recently.
The fact of the matter is that decisiveness is generally considered to be a very attractive quality for someone to possess. I have a friend who is always so decisive when it comes to ordering at restaurants. The last time I saw him was when there was a group of 6 of us at a restaurant. Normally I don’t appreciate someone ordering on my behalf, but he ordered for the entire table and everyone really appreciated it. I noticed that when dining with others, he would often help them decide what to have if there was any hint of a struggle.
‘It’s a nice little life hack that most people aren’t aware of.’
First he would scan the menu for the most reasonable items and mentally narrow it down to just a few top choices quickly. He would of course pay attention and take into consideration the options that those around him were floundering over. He would then quickly and naturally help them decide by saying something like, ‘Why don’t you have the duck ravioli?’ The ability to do this in a way that isn’t overbearing, or suffocating to the other party creates a powerful effect that can leave a strong and lasting impression.
How did he do this so gracefully?
‘Simple!’ he said. After narrowing it down to 2 or 3 reasonable choices, I choose the one that has the most vowels. If the number of vowels is the same, I choose the item with the least number of letters. Remember: when it is hard to decide on the little things, it doesn’t matter what you choose. It just matters that you pick something quickly and decisively. It’s a nice little life hack that most people aren’t aware of. You now have two methods to consciously employ – the coin flip and the vowel method. Use them and prosper!
How to Handle Making Big Important Decisions
I’d like to introduce you to the Weighted Average Decision Matrix, a fantastic tool I stumbled upon while reading MJ Demarco’s excellent book The Millionaire Fastlane. Let’s say you are in the market to buy a new car, but with the different models and features available, you feel overwhelmed. For the average consumer, the coin toss method would probably be inappropriate to help in solving the matter. In this case we can turn to the Weighted Average Decision Matrix.
How does it work?
- Open up a spreadsheet and decide the factors that are relevant to you. In the case of purchasing a new car, you might narrow it down to 3 different models and makes: Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. List them out in one column, and then select the criteria that are important to you in purchasing a new car. As an example, let’s select appearance, cost, interior, resale value, and gas mileage.
- Decide how important each of the criteria is to you on a scale of 1-10, and then rank the value of each option by multiplying its score against the weighting of the corresponding criteria. For example, let’s say you judge the importance of a new car’s appearance as 6 out of 10. If you rank the Toyota’s appearance as an 8, you would multiple 6 by 8 to get a value of 48. So the Toyota would receive a score of 48 for ‘appearance.’
- After we fill out our table as shown above, we can add up all of the values to get our total value for each option. In this case, the Honda is the clear winner with a total score of 270.
- If you struggle to decide whether individual criteria should receive a weight of 6 vs. 7, this is essentially a small decision, so we can employ the coin toss method. I may sound like I am joking, but making important decisions is no laughing matter. Some people suffer from extreme indecisiveness and it is my job to help!
The Applications Are Limitless!
This method can be applied to anything from deciding what career path to take, how to choose a partner for a relationship, what home to buy, or even where to relocate to. The applications are truly limitless, so while this may seem impractical, I consider it to be a secret weapon that can revolutionize your ability to make big decisions.
While most people might stay up all night worrying about what to do, you will be sleeping soundly now that you know how to apply the Weighted Average Decision Matrix to optimize your life. A simple Google search will yield much more on this topic, and there are even apps you can download that complete all of the simple calculations for you! You also welcome to use our free and simple spreadsheet.
When All Else Fails..
As powerful as these tools are, I wanted to add one more decision making tool to your arsenal to really help turn you into a decisive beast so you can enhance your overall productivity level.
Let’s say you apply the above method and on paper it shows you that the Honda is the car for you, but somehow in your heart you don’t feel quite right about it. Roll a die. I’m serious. You would do something like assign 1-2 for the Toyota, 3-4 for the Nissan, and 5-6 for the Honda. Throw the die up high up into the sky, and notice if you find yourself wishing for a specific number while the die is still spinning in the air. If you do, that is your heart telling you what it really wants.
In this case, you may want to go over your Weighted Average Decision Matrix and make sure you assigned the proper values to the various criteria. You may even decide to make a decision that is not entirely rational. Ultimately the responsibility of making decisions lies with you, and these are just some powerful tool to help you do that. So get out there and put them to use so you can free yourself up and get more out of life!
Wanna test if it works? One easy and quick decision you can make right now – Start your Free Trial of FocusMe today!