Should I go out tonight or stay in? Is this the time to move on in my career or should I stay where I am for awhile? Should I buy these new boots or wait until next year?
It’s been estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions every day. That’s almost 2,000 decisions an hour, over ~18 waking hours. Some of these decisions are big ones – decisions about life changes, career choices, relationships. And some are small decisions, things like whether or not to eat that second cookie or to move forward with a non-major purchase.
Many decisions can be stressful, and even the right decision can be controversial. In the world of sports, we see players, coaches, and administrations constantly making decisions that will affect the play, the game, and sometimes even the future of an entire league or sport.
You may consider yourself a decisive person, or maybe decisions – even the small ones – cause you slight analysis paralysis. Either way, there are strategies you can use to become a better decision maker for big and small decisions. Here are five of our favorites:
1. Keep Your Confidence in Check & Know Yourself
Confidence is a good thing, but overconfidence can actually put a damper on our ability to make good decisions. For instance, if you tend to think you can get 8 things done in an hour vs. the 2 things you’ll actually get done, that will roll over into putting you behind at other points in your day, and inhibit decisions you made or would have made if you’d been more realistic about your capacity. At the same time, if you tend to be less confident in your own abilities than you should be, you should be self-aware and allow that knowledge to spur you into more proactive, perhaps more aggressive decisions when appropriate. Being honest about your confidence levels in general will allow your decisions to be better aligned with reality — and ultimately more successful. On a larger scale, the better you seek to know yourself and what you care about, the more you can align your daily and life decisions with those things.
2. Don’t Source the Crowd. Source the Experts.
In the age of booming social media content, it’s easy to listen to the masses – which can, at times, be helpful. But a lot of people like to talk about a lot of things…even things they know very little, or nothing about. When you’re making decisions, especially big decisions, make sure you’re listening to and seeking counsel from people who have experience with the issue you’re facing, who have had to make a similar decision or from a similar place in life, and who will share with you the realities and results from that decision. If you are sourcing the crowd, make sure to filter those responses a bit so that your own decision is most informed by those who can actually speak into it.
3. Treat Yo’ Self…Like a Friend
It can be easy to be much more critical with ourselves in decision-making than we might with a friend. A good strategy to try — especially if you do have to make a decision fairly autonomously — is to think about how you might advise a friend facing a similar decision. Would you tell your friend to take that interview because you know she deserves more and has more to give her career than where she currently is? Speak the same truth to yourself. Would you tell your friend that he should sign up for that race because you know it will motivate him to get in better shape and ultimately, live a more healthy life? Tell yourself, and get registered. We all know self-care is important, but it can be hard to practice. This includes decision-making, too. Treat yourself like you treat your best friends, and practice talking through decisions as you would help your friend work through a choice.
4. Reflect On and Learn From Your Daily Decisions – Both Good and Bad
Whether you analyze your day or try to move on as quickly as possible, it can be helpful to take a few minutes at night and think about the decisions you made that day. By thinking through decisions retrospectively (both what turned out to be a wrong decision as well as those decisions you are happy with), it will help you process and prepare you to make better decisions next time. But this exercise should be done pragmatically to help you put in mental reminders for next time. Don’t let it become a time to dwell on your mistakes or have them cause more stress.
5. Put the List Away and Sleep on It
Who else loves their pros and cons lists? As much as this can be helpful in thinking through a decision, studies have shown that we can make decisions even tougher when we do this too much – we overthink, overanalyze, and get mentally exhausted, which increases our overall stress about the problem. Experts recommend an alternative – put away that list and get some rest. The “incubation” of a problem can be effective in coming back to it when you’re rested and can make a clearer, focused decision. If you have to make a decision before you’re able to rest, try turning your attention to another activity – get some exercise, cook a meal, etc. Focusing on something else will still give your mind a break and allow you to come back to that decision in a better place.
6. Make Some Decisions Just About the Fun
Some decisions should be just about fun…and some can even be energizing with a beat of competition. She Plays has a brand new Pick ‘Em Challenge where every week you can play and pick who you think will be the winner of each matchup in the world of professional women’s sports. Hockey, soccer, basketball…we’ve got it all. Play with your friends, your family, or get in the fun and fierce competition against others around the country. Register now to join the waitlist so you’re among the first to play!