One area of life where most people will, at least occasionally, experience a lack of confidence is decision making. Confident decision making is essential because it allows you to move through life with a greater sense of belief. It even boosts your self-esteem because when you make a decision with confidence, you are giving yourself a vote of confidence. You are reaffirming that you are a capable, worthy person with the ability to take charge of your life and make strong decisions. When you struggle to make confident decisions, you are rejecting yourself and you are opening yourself up to the influence of others who may not have your best interests at heart.

The 2 elements of confident decision making

When I speak of confident decision making, it is very easy to think that this means getting all decisions right. That is not the case. Confident decision making involves 2 critical elements:

  • You have faith in yourself to make the right decision
  • You know that you will get some decisions wrong but you have faith that you can rectify any problems which may arise

The second element is particularly important because it lets you know that perfection is neither required nor possible.

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5 Ways to encourage confident decision making

Your mindset plays a big role in confident decision making. Having the self-belief to know that you will get most decisions right and; knowing that you can deal with any potential problems is essential. The following factors will help you develop this mindset:

1. Realise that you can’t lose


Every decision is a learning opportunity. Whatever course of action you choose; you are going to get some valuable life experience. If you choose the right option, you are going to improve some area of your life; in the short, medium or long-term. It is easy to see how you can’t lose when you make the right decision.

But even if you make the wrong decision, you still can’t lose. While you may be able to visualise severe consequences for any decision; they are rarely realistic. You may suffer a little short-term pain but you will learn greatly from the experience. And, sometimes in life, we discover new opportunities by straying down the wrong path.

Confident decision making encourages you to realise that you can’t lose when you are determined to learn from and; find the positives in every situation.

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2. Do your research


When you are faced with a challenge/problem, it is usually best to do some research before you decide what to do but only do your research if the decision is important. If the decision is not important, just choose an option or toss a coin. Get the unimportant decisions off your plate so that you can focus on the important ones. It’s worth noting that, as the 80/20 principle teaches us, most decisions in life are not important.

If the decision is important, you will want to do some research and arm yourself with relevant information before you determine how to proceed. However, you need to be aware of the problem of perfectionism and avoid unnecessary delay. It would be easy to spend forever researching but you need to make a decision.

Confident decision making requires you to place a limit on the research you do for your decision, e.g.:

  • Place a time limit on the research
  • Limit the number of websites you will consult
  • Limit the number of people you will talk to

There are many other limits you could place on your research but the key point is to not allow your research to become an excuse for procrastination.

3. Accept ‘Good Enough’


Barry Schwartz, author of ‘The Paradox of Choice’, advises that a crucial factor in making decisions is accepting that good enough is almost always good enough. When you only want the very best, you feel the need to consider every possible option but in most areas of life, there are so many options that considering them all would take a life time.

When you are determined to find a solution to your challenge/problem which is ‘good enough’ you realise that there are many different options which would do the job. That way, you can limit your research, as discussed earlier, and choose one of the options which you believe will be good enough.

Confident decision making realises that whichever ‘good enough’ option you go with; it most likely will be good enough. That is far better than searching for the best option and doing nothing because you can’t determine the best option.

Confident decision making allows you to stop chasing unrealistic perfection

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4. Take responsibility


Confident decision making requires that you accept full responsibility for your outcomes, whether they are good or bad. Responsibility is not about blaming yourself. It is about acknowledging that your outcomes are a result of the decisions and actions which you did or, did not take.

Many people refuse to take responsibility for their outcomes, seeing it as a sign of weakness They choose to blame others instead. But taking responsibility for your outcomes is a sign of strength and confidence. When you take responsibility, you are saying that if your decisions and actions produced the problem, you can make better decisions and take better actions to get a better outcome.

Responsibility is the basis of having faith in your ability to deal with any negative consequences which may come your way because of a bad decision.

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Objectively assessing your outcomes allows you to view the past with a greater sense of positivity and realism. Setting you free to live positively in the present.

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5. Correct where necessary


Of course, when you take responsibility for your outcomes, you will identity areas where you can improve. Even when you don’t choose the right option, it is likely that some of the outcomes will be good. So, rather than change everything, you can identify the areas where improvement is required.

You can then make the corrections which are necessary and evaluate their impact. You can keep evaluating and adjusting as necessary. This is another area where confident decision making trumps perfectionism. You understand that when you take action, you get feedback to help you make adjustments and improve your future decision making. You learn from experience.

With perfectionism, you don’t decide and you don’t act so you can’t get any feedback until you eventually bite the bullet and choose. That is why is better to be confident in your decision making, choose an option and act. Even if it goes wrong, you will have it fixed before the perfectionist makes a decision.

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Confident decision making allows you to keep progressing through life. You realise that you will get some of the decisions wrong but you have faith in your ability to deal with any fallout from a bad decision. You realise that just like an airplane on flight between two cities, you will regularly stray off course but you will always be able to make the small adjustments needed to get back on track. At end of the day, it is important to reach your goal/destination but the exact route you take to get there is not very important. You just need to trust yourself, take action and be determined to learn from every experience. It’s much better and more realistic than trying to be perfect.


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