These days we are overwhelmed with available choices for just about everything. This can range from salad dressings to health care options. Barry Schwartz, psychologist and author of the book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, calls this the “explosion of choice.” He goes on to say that because of this, we often suffer analysis paralysis, which leads to a delayed-choice or no choice at all.
Too many options also lead to dissatisfaction, no matter which choice is made. This is because we will always wonder if another choice would have been better.
So, how do we make better choices quickly and with confidence? Here are fifteen ways that can help.
1. Start Small
For everyday choices, such as what to have for dinner or which movie to watch, limit yourself to thirty seconds to make a choice. Then follow through with that decision no matter what. Don’t second guess yourself or overthink it.
2. Set a Timer
Establishing a self-imposed deadline will force you to focus and act. Set a timer for two minutes. This will force you to quickly assess your choices, both the pros and cons and choose. Even if you need to make it five minutes to start with, do so, and eventually, you’ll be able to whittle down the time it takes to make your choice.
3. Remember Your Values
What are your values? As long as you know these, your choice-making can be quick and confident. Whenever you are confronted with making a choice, ask yourself which one lines up with your values. If having family dinners is important to you, then choose the job that doesn’t require the long commute. Always keep your values in mind and be sure your choices are consistent with those values.
4. Identify the Stakes
If you’re suffering from FOBO (Fear of Better Options), identify whether the choice involves high, low, or no stakes. If no stakes, then choose quickly. If low stakes, then take a little longer and make your choice. If it involves high stakes, with long-term effects, accept that it may not be a choice you can make too quickly.
5. Label Choices Good or Bad
With so many options available, one way to make a quicker choice is to label each one as good or bad.
This doesn’t mean they are the best or the worst; it merely means that to you, certain choices are not as good as others. This narrows down your options and eliminates overthinking.
6. Make a Choice for Now
Don’t get lost in the bigger picture. Make a choice based on where you are now in this present moment. This choice can get you to the next step of where you want to go. Ask yourself, if I choose this option, how will it affect my life right now?
7. Limit Choices
When you have several options available, scan them, and rule out as many as possible. Focus on the two or three choices that stand out and grab your attention the most. Think of a few cons and pros for each, and whichever one has the most pros, choose it with confidence. For example, when you look at a restaurant menu and have a dozen entrée options, choose two or three that sound good to you. Take your ultimate pick from that small group.
8. Verbalize It
You may be the type that prefers to process information verbally. By talking aloud and going over the choices, you can process the information faster and eliminate those that don’t serve you. Find someone you can share this with, not expecting them to make the decision for you or to offer any insight at all. The person just needs to be a patient listener and let you come to your own conclusion.
9. Ask for Advice
When you’re weighing a choice for something that is out of your range of experience, ask someone you trust for advice. A confirmation from someone who has made a similar choice can help you make your choice even faster if you are already leaning in one direction.
This doesn’t mean you should go with whatever they tell you. Having another’s perspective, however, can confirm your thoughts or push you in a different direction.
10. Test Out Your Choices
If you have a limited number of choices, consider testing them out before making a final decision. For example, if you’ve been offered a store management position, and can choose between two nearby locations, visit each one. Tour the area, walk through the store and talk with employees and customers. One of them is bound to feel more right for you. In other words, instead of sitting around thinking about it, take action, and explore your options.
11. Consider Reversible Choices
If the choice you’re making has the potential to be reversed with no adverse consequences, don’t fret over making a choice. Instead of being indecisive, make that choice and evaluate it from there.
12. Use Worst Case Scenario Thinking
Ask yourself what will be the worst possible outcome if you make a certain choice. Then think about the likelihood of that happening. Also, if that did happen, what could you do about it? What would it require?
13. Stay within the Scope of Your Mission
If you’re in business, the choices you make will be quicker if you measure them up against the scope of your mission statement. Determine which of the options leads to the fulfillment of your mission goals.
14. Go with Your Gut
How often do you experience a gut feeling about something? Did you go with it or return to your brain’s analyzing power to discredit it? Next time, consider going with your gut. Leave the analysis for math problems. Your initial instinct is often the right one, so save time and effort by accepting it.
15. Embrace the Possibility of Failure
Making choices can lead to both good and bad results. Let go of perfectionist thinking and embrace the possibility that your choice my not be the most beneficial for you. You can always learn from wrong decisions, making you more aware the next time a similar one comes along.
Life is filled with choices to be made and less and less time to make them. This can drain your energy and even paralyze you from making any choice at all. Choose ways to help you make these choices quickly and with confidence. You’ll spend less time stressing over them and more time living your life.