Avoid the Three Biggest Decision-Making Traps

Avoid the Three Biggest Decision-Making Traps

Great decisions do not happen by accident. As Thomas Edison knew so well, most of your decisions will not work out as planned, but you need to make them in order to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Here’s how to avoid the Three Biggest Decision-Making Traps:

Trap # 1: Ignoring the decision. It’s true that maintaining the status quo can be a good thing, if the action required is simply a time waster and won’t contribute toward furthering your goals. But ignoring an important decision, such as deciding whether or not to introduce a new marketing strategy or investing in equipment or staff to improve productivity, could cause you to miss the opportunity entirely, leaving you out of future opportunities, and potentially harming your reputation as a leader in your industry.

Trap # 2: Relying inappropriately on intuition. When you are an expert in a certain area, and have made many other decisions that proved you can rely on your “intuition”, you will rightfully have much more trust in intuitive decisions. All that knowledge, including the results of former decisions, has become part of your decision-making capability.

But if you rely solely on intuition, without examining the pros and cons of a situation, you may be in for trouble. Our individual personalities, our personal and educational history and our current circumstances play huge roles in how we make decisions. For example, a person with a history of debt-management problems might be afraid of any opportunity that cannot be paid for with straight cash, and might avoid all decisions requiring an investment requiring short-term debt. On the other hand, a person who is normally a big spender, might “roll the dice” because it looks like a “sure thing”. In either case, sadly, the result might be the exact opposite of what he or she hoped for.

Trap # 3: Analysis paralysis. With the technological advances of the last twenty years, there is now a tremendous amount of information available to us, on virtually any subject. The tendency to want perfect information has never been more attractive. But over-analyzing can have consequences. Let’s face it, we’ll never have perfect knowledge and the world can’t wait for us while we live in fear of making a small mistake. Others are depending on our decisions to take action, and we can lose their trust more easily by being indecisive, than by coming up with an 80% solution.

You already know about the 80/20 rule – 80 percent of the problem can be solved with 20 percent of the information. You can also think about the best-case/worst-case scenario, which starts with the question, “What if?” Add these two strategies to your decision-making model and you will find it easier to make decisions with confidence.

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