Day by day, we have tons of possibilities to choose, what to do, where to go, when to act, who to ask.
Do we expect these things to be defined by someone or something else? How often?
When we are kids, at home or at school, and sometimes at work, we receive instructions on all we are supposed to do during the day. Then, when we don’t, we have little or no experience in whatever to choose from and how to make and follow up on that decision.
While waiting for someone else to take that ownership, we lose visibility of the next steps. This is ok when we are children, and we depend on others for guidance, but not quite when we aim to lead that path.
If you find yourself in a scenario where others make certain decisions that affect your personal or professional targets, ask yourself, why is this happening, and if you are OK with that?
Perhaps this is part of a bigger plan, like a company strategy or a familiar dynamic. Perhaps you are a good follower of that plan.
If not, ask yourself if you would be able and willing to take that responsibility?
How do we start making decisions?
It is easier to say than do. We can train and read tons of books, articles, and blogs about how to make good decisions. Then analyze, design, and plan whatever strategy we are trying to implement, considering potential deviations from the original path, then real life shows up a “ball curve” with some unknowns like human unpredictable reactions, external dependencies, or any other unplanned.
As well as the decision we took, we get to own the responsibility of what comes with it.
The difficulty is not only in the consequences. Sometimes, it starts to feel overwhelming even before its implementation, at its negotiation, or even before, its analysis.
Making an accurate and timely decision is always a learning experience. It is never good or bad. Even the most experienced have failed, and so do the juniors. Do not take it personally if you do not get the expected results from time to time despite your knowledge of the topic.
At any point of your life, in any area of it. The only way to go is thoroughly.
It is never as easier nor simpler as we think it should become throughout the years. Following techniques from a book won’t ever ensure success.
What does happen is that you get used to thinking, trying, failing, and learning constantly and objectively. That flexibility and openness help you to improve faster. And those lessons learned to help you to recognize your instincts.
Decision-making is not a power; it is a responsibility
“With great power comes great responsibility” Stan Lee. I bet you have heard this phrase. You even read it with a specific tone of voice, haven’t you?
Decision-making is far away from being a superpower. Having the “power” of making a decision does not make you a superhero, but the owner of such, including its impacts.
That is why, when we make a decision, we need to take some time to consider risks of all kinds, personal, social, economic, environmental, and so on.
Now, do not panic, and please do not lock all decisions in an analysis paralysis endless cycle.
You will never be able to identify all dependencies, blockers, risks, and extensions from a decision.
Consider mapping the critical route, and enable paths for potential deviations. Keep an open and flexible mindset for unknowns, and get ready for moving on accordingly.
Taking the lead does not mean you inherit the responsibility of making all decisions, but you manage to research, discuss, plan, and collaborate with others to make the best possible decision.
Some people like making decisions, and often, we rely on them to make decisions as well as deal with their consequences, while we remain somehow safe.
What a comforting situation for the rest but for the decision leading. It sounds funny but is kind of sad, and it happens more often than you would think.
Exceeding a load of responsibilities in a person could trigger a stressful environment for him and for the people around him. Note: This not only happens at work, it happens in every aspect of our lives, at home, and at school too.
Distributing that overload not only will decrease the level of tension around and within ourselves, but it will also help others to generate more awareness while taking more ownership of the topics to decide, and the impact of each choice.
Letting go is not easy. You may feel you are losing control. Perhaps you think you must, as it is part of your predefined role. Perhaps you don’t trust yourself or others after all.
Empowering others is not losing control, is diversifying your strategy. It applies to everything in life.
You would be able to guide them during their learning process, and whenever they feel they are ready, transfer that responsibility to them. A decision made as a team, reinforce the commitment of people around you to deal together also with the consequences.
Just let go, for real, of the decisions that others can make. Let the people around get used to, and make use of this new influence they have, as well as grow their consciousness on the impact of such. Guide them, but do not overlap your opinion with theirs. Failing is in the learning path.
Another reason to feel overwhelmed could be due to a lack of self-organization, which happens mostly when we first take the lead with something.
If you are in this situation, even if you have some years of taking the lead on decisions. Consider this tip:
Make a pause,
Self-assess your routine,
Adjust your habits.
Recap for the top 5 tips to start becoming a decision-maker
1. Confirm with yourself that you can, and actually want to take the lead on it.
2. Expect failure as an opportunity to learn and grow in experiences.
3. Go for it. Fear is a warning but not a stopper.
4. You do not have to make all decisions. Rely on people around you to keep balance.
5. Do not overthink everything every time! Plan overalls, and flow with the rest.
+1. Keep an open and flexible attitude towards challenges, like palms towards hurricanes.