The Secret to Making Winning Decisions

(800 words)  

by Daniel STIH

Do you find yourself not being able to make a decision, worried you might make the wrong one? Are you prone to having decision remorse - after you make a decision you can’t stop thinking about it and if it was the right one. Making a decision can be easy. If you’re reading this, chances are you are not being held at gunpoint by a warlord in a third-world country. You have choices. If you are having a difficult time, you’re lucky - you have more than one good option to choose from. 

What Not to do 

  • Never make a decision when you are afraid. Fear leads to poor choices. Worry interferes electrically and chemically with the mind and the heart. Sleep on it. 
  • Never make a choice based on what you feel you need to or should do.  
  • Don’t assume something is a sure thing. Understand what you’re getting yourself into. Nothing is a sure thing.

Step-by-Step Decision Making 

  • Do your research. Question everything. Go deep.  
  • Consider the risks involved with each option, and what could you use more information about.  
  • Make a list of distractions, concerns that come from being scared, ones that are not useful in making a decision. Make a note of them so when they come up you can dismiss them.  
  • Consider the benefits and potential consequences of each option and if there is a middle ground that splits the difference. 
  • Beware of the double-bind. When presented with a choice that seems to suggest it’s this or that, consider there may be a third choice you have not considered. 

There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you, and you don’t know how or why - Albert Einstein 

After you narrow your choices down, consider how you feel about each. Use your gut feeling (intuition), to choose the best option from those your logical mind and research have presented. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and clear your mind. Now think about the first option. How does it feel? Did anything come to mind? Was it good, bad, or neutral? Did you hear something that caught your attention when your eyes were closed? If so, consider what was significant about it and how it made you.

Open your eyes and repeat the exercise for the second and third options. Pick the one that feels right. Go with your first impressions. Don’t second-guess yourself.

Whatever you decide, stick with it. When you start having doubts, remind yourself that there’s a reason you chose the way you did. Trust yourself. There are no wrong decisions and here’s why: 

The secret to making winning decisions is to understand that at this point you have made a no-lose decision. A friend of mine who knows I am a climber thought what I meant by a making no-lose decision is not to fall or fail. She suggested the principle should be “the secret to making winning decisions.” I told her thank you, but I didn't mean to imply that you should expect not to fall or fail.  

No-lose Decisions 

Whichever path you chose, you will experience, learn, and achieve things you would not have if you had taken the other. Some of the mountains I climbed, ones that had never been climbed before, I discovered when I was lost and failing. If you think you made a bad decision, consider what you learned. Every choice is a step on the path to success. 

There are few things to help you realize this concept. First, if you don’t like the choice you made, chances are you can go back to how things were before. Second, regardless of the outcome, you will become that which you were not before. You should, therefore, be as excited about not making a winning decision as any. Don't worry! Do your best to make the best decision, and then quit thinking about it. 

Finally, as we say in climbing, take the easiest way. This is not to say you should be lazy. Rather, if your goal is to get to the top of a mountain, and you know you can hike to the top on a trail, then instead of toiling away for several days climbing its steepest face, chose the hike. 

To sum it up, whether you choose chocolate or vanilla, remind yourself that you’re lucky you have choices and be grateful that you’re getting ice cream. It’s going to be good either way.