How to Make a Decision


“I am horrible at making decisions. I spend way too long researching information and weighing all of my options trying to make the right decision. How can I get better at this?” – Clement from Akron, OH


If only making decisions were as easy as shaking a Magic 8-Ball.

A recent Harvard Business Review blog post talked about where decisiveness comes from. Some people are born with it. Others work for organizations where there are incentives to making timely decisions. For the rest of us, we can be what author Nick Tasler calls “decisive by training” by developing and implementing a regular process to making decisions.

Consider the following steps:

  • Establish your criteria. Create a list of 3-5 criteria you’ll use to make your decision. For example, if you need to make a decision about which catering company to use you might choose to evaluate your options based on cost, proximity to your company, menu variety and eco-friendly practices.
  • Limit your information intake. Just like a racehorse can better focus on the race when it has blinders on, you’re better primed to make a decision when you limit the amount of information you take in. Pick a select number of sources to consult (no more than 10) or constrain your research to a set amount of time so you don’t get bogged down by information overload.
  • Know when to trust your gut (and experience). As you acquire more work and life experience, you’ll start to see patterns that help make future decisions easier. For instance, your team may have a history of coming up with great ideas but not having the resources to properly execute them. Before getting too far into the deep end on a new project, you might choose to scale it back or shut it down entirely.
  • Understand when to seek the experience of others.  Making a decision can feel really overwhelming when you feel like you don’t have the right experience or knowledge. Consulting with others who have a more relevant background can help you arrive at a decision quicker and feel more confident about what you’ve selected.
  • Make a decision. Go for it! Make the best decision you can with the information you have available to you and move on.

For more advice on how to make decisions, I recommend the following articles:

Want to evaluate your decision-making skills? MindTools offers an 18-question quiz that will determine how you fare on the different steps of the decision-making process.