Deciding how to make a decision

crossroads

This week our theme for Star Track is self-esteem, and we’re approaching it via considering its relationship with decision-making. There’s a link there, right? People who have higher levels of self-esteem are more confident when it comes to making decisions.

What we’ve discovered through our conversations with our co-creators is that they have a number of different approaches to making decisions. We asked them to discuss amongst themselves how they might improve their approaches too. We should add here what a WEALTH of brilliant ideas they had. Here are some examples—can you relate to any of them?

  1. Go fast, fix quick.

    • The approach: the important thing is to make a decision, and to make it quickly. If it’s the wrong one, then it’s important to fix it quickly too.
    • The improvement: spend just a little time to weigh things out. Although it’s good to go with your gut sometimes, giving yourself the opportunity to think about the outcomes might mean there ends up being less fixing to do.
  2. Make it, doubt it.

    • The approach: you like to give the impression that you have of high levels of confidence/self-esteem, but the subsequent questioning around whether or not it was the best decision indicates that those self-esteem levels don’t run all that deep.
    • The improvement: the flaw in this approach is the doubting element. Look back over past decisions and remind yourself about those that turned out well. And take a little leaf from Go fast, fix quick‘s book: trust your gut instinct. If you’re doubting the decision because you think it is the wrong one, then hold off making it.
  3. The crowd pleaser.

    • The approach: It’s all about compromise, finding a way to make everyone happy. But in doing that, you often end up compromising so much that you know the outcome isn’t going to be as good as it could be.
    • The improvement: You know that you can’t please everyone. You know that. So the trick to improving this approach is to find an additional boost of confidence and stick to your guns about what you think is going to work best. One way to do this might be to find someone else who can support you when you announce your decision. And if you think anyone is particularly going to be negatively affected by your decision, give them the heads up before you tell everyone else.

So what happens after the decision is made? If it all goes right, then that’s great. Celebrate it, shout about it, and share the success with the others who helped make it happen. And if it all goes wrong, admit it. Take the blame. Find out what you can learn from it. That’s what our co-creators say. There are some eerily-similar tips on how to bounce back from a big mistake from the brilliant people at the99percent.com. Which is kinda gratifying/affirming :-)

I think that often when you’re making a decision the choices aren’t obviously right or wrong; it has more to do with what you do afterwards that makes it become the right or wrong choice. So in that sense, making decisions can be quite empowering, whatever level of self-esteem you have. You get to focus less on the decision-making process, and more on how you’re going to be able to carry it through. Of course, this does not apply for decisions such as “Should I put the kitten in the microwave?”

—Eugenie Teasley, founder of Spark+Mettle

Let’s finish up with some final thoughts from our co-creators on bite size tricks to build self-esteem:

  • “Always start with what you find easiest,” says Gianni—you’ll feel good about what you’ve achieved and feel more motivated to tackle something harder.
  • “Add in a bit of competition,” says Tiffany. And although it’s good to have a bit of competition with others, you can always target something inanimate, such as a Sudoku puzzle.
  • “Become more knowledgeable,” says Arfah. If you don’t feel confident about something, then go and research it. The next time it crops up, you’ll be armed with stats and facts when you want to contribute to a discussion or argue your side.
There we go, there are our thoughts on self-esteem and decision-making. We’d love to know yours…