8 Effective Ways To Make Hard Decisions Easier

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  • 08 Mar 2024
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Do you find it tough to make big decisions? Some people would prefer avoid making difficult decisions than tackle them full on. Others speed through the process, only to later regret not taking more time to make a difficult decision. Of course, the COVID-19 epidemic increased the pressure on the process since we don't want to make the incorrect judgments while adjusting to the new abnormal.

However, it is not how long you spend making a choice that is important. Rather, it all comes down to your decision-making process and whether you employ successful techniques. Using the proper procedures will also guarantee that you are not held back by decision fatigue, which occurs when the quality of your choices deteriorates after a prolonged period of decision-making.

Tough Decisions: Should You Listen to Your Gut?

Many big decisions, whether personal or professional, have life-changing consequences and must be treated with caution. Unfortunately, many people make decisions based on their intuition. Gut responses are said to be magical, obtained via hard work or by a select group of specialists. Popular gurus even foster these mystical notions through their advise. 

However, research in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics has shown that impartial procedures, rather than gut-based ones, increase decision-making abilities. In the information era, we have a far broader set of instruments to help us make decisions. That being said, it's terrible that renowned gurus continue to promote intuition-based solutions.

Intuition is a poor decision-making tool because our brains are predisposed to make harmful judgment errors. Scholars in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience refer to these mistakes as cognitive biases.

It's a good thing that current research in these disciplines shows how to utilize pragmatic tactics to detect and protect against these faults.

8 Effective Ways to Make Hard Decisions Easier

Whether you're making a personal or professional decision, you may use data-driven and research-based ways to make difficult choices simpler. It is important to note that effective decision-making is not determined by intrinsic aptitude or hard-earned personal experience. The fact is that it all comes down to effective approaches that can be taught and learned. 

Moving to a new place, asking for a raise, pursuing a graduate degree, deciding whether to enter or exit a long-term relationship—all of these and many more are significant decisions. You can, of course, recover if you make the incorrect decisions during such life-changing times.

However, doing them wrong can result in disastrous interruptions, which can be fully avoided if you apply these 8 effective ways.

1. Identify the Need to Make a Decision

This is critical because it helps you to pay attention even when there is no obvious problem indicating that you need to make a difficult decision, or when you initially believe that you just need to make a minor one. Don't forget that your natural instincts might make it hard to accept that a difficult decision must be made. 

Keep in mind that the finest decision-makers take the initiative to accept the necessity for a choice before it escalates into a full-blown catastrophe. They also do not let their gut feelings influence their selections.

To get the most out of this strategy, make sure you ask the proper questions. It's normal to waste a lot of time attempting to understand a problem by jumping directly to the data and drawing a quick judgment. Choosing smart questions will help you prevent this.

2. Get Relevant Information From a Diverse Set of Informed Perspectives

The information might come from a friend, a coworker, a mentor, or even someone you're not very connected to, as long as they have extensive understanding of the subject. Furthermore, restricting your data collection to only educated viewpoints can prevent you from overinvesting in irrelevant data.

Avoid dismissing opposing points of view. After all, competing viewpoints help you to step away from depending on your gut feelings and identify any potential bias blind spots.

3. Decide What Goals You Want to Reach

Using the facts you obtained, identify what goals you wish to achieve. Visualize the desired result of your decision-making. 

It is critical to recognize when an apparently isolated choice is indicative of a larger problem. Include coping with these core problems in your ultimate aim. This strategy will enable you to expedite your decision-making process by allowing you to clearly establish your goals. This, in turn, serves to save your mind from having to process too much information.

4.  Form a Decision-Making Process Criteria

Create decision-making criteria to examine the many choices for achieving your intended goal. If feasible, develop the criteria before you start looking at your options. Remember that our intuitions influence our decision-making process by striving for results that align with our instincts. What was the result? If you do not establish the necessary criteria before examining your selections, you will end up with poorer overall outcomes.

5. Make a List of Potential Options That Can Help You Reach Your Goal

When faced with difficult decisions, it is normal to create insufficient options, especially when underlying issues must be addressed. The easiest approach to deal with this is to provide additional alternatives that appear natural to you. Aim for at least five appealing options. 

Keep in mind that because this is a brainstorming process, you should refrain from evaluating the ideas, even if they appear absurd. In my years of teaching clients who were struggling to make important life decisions, I've seen that the finest choices typically include features derived from inventive solutions.

6. Examine the Options and Select the Best One

When assessing your alternatives, try not to stick to your first selections. In addition, attempt to see your favorite option in a negative perspective. Another important step is to evaluate each alternative based on your impression of the person who proposed it. This reduces the impact of internal politics and connections on the choice itself. 

When considering alternatives, avoid reflexively selecting your first preferences. Also, look at your selected option in harsh light and from several angles. Furthermore, try to analyze each choice apart from your impression of the person who presented it. This will reduce the influence of personalities, relationships, and internal politics on the decision-making.

7. Implement the Option You Selected

Implementing this strategy takes significant thinking and creativity. Because the aim is to make the best decision possible, you must limit risks while maximizing benefits. 

To do so, first assume that your choice has entirely failed. Next, consider all of the issues that contributed to its downfall. Then, consider how you might overcome these difficulties and include them into the execution strategy. 

The next stage in this strategy is to assume your decision was successful. Next, consider the aspects that contribute to its success, develop ways to bring these reasons to life, and include your ideas into the decision-making process.

8. Assess the Implementation of the Decision and Revise or Fine-Tune as Needed

Create unambiguous success measures that can be used throughout the implementation phase. Check on a regular basis to see if your implementation meets or exceeds the metrics. If it falls short, consider revising the implementation. In some cases, you may even need to reconsider your original judgment. That is not a terrible thing. Simply return to the specific approach you need to evaluate and begin over. 

In general, you may find yourself switching between these eight ways. Remember that these adjustments are simply a part of the decision-making process and do not indicate a problem.

For example, if you are at the choice-generating stage and discover that you need to include important new data, you may need to revisit your goals and criteria. 

Let me simply say that these tactics have been battle-tested, and you may elaborate on them for the most part. I've used it frequently with consulting and coaching clients who had previously been unable to make various types of difficult decisions. After applying these tactics multiple times, they developed the habit of approaching each difficult choice with a realistic perspective and had an easier time deciding in the end.


Don't be misled by prominent gurus' suggestion to follow your intuition while making difficult decisions. Gut emotions are not a reliable indicator of life-changing decisions. Instead, use these 8 research-based and data-driven decision-making approaches to navigate challenging times in your personal and professional life.

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