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Everyone makes hundreds of difficult decisions throughout their lives.

They can range from mundane to life-changing personal or professional choices.

Deciding what color tie to wear might not set the pulse racing. But job changes, moving house, or starting a family or a new business are major decisions for anyone.

Some people are naturally better at making the right decisions at the right time. For them, most of the time, their decisions seem to work out. 

Guidance, perspective and action

At The Starting Block, we talk a lot about Guidance.  Seeking different perspectives before making important decisions is our 9th Law:

“Experience may not always be the wisest teacher. The value of experience cannot be overstated. But, often, the wisest teacher is, in fact, a wise teacher – not experience.”

Daniel Mumby

Every problem can be overcome with a clearer perspective and better guidance.

But what happens after you’ve got that experience, perspective, or guidance?

That’s right, you have to choose to act or decide not to act. Even not making a decision, is in itself, a decision.

Have you ever been so torn or stuck on a decision, you didn’t act and missed an opportunity? Perhaps someone else bought the house you always wanted?

Or you see the person of your dreams across a crowded room, but then didn’t decide to introduce yourself. Instead went home alone, never having approached them?

Businessman making a decision concept.

Behind our method

So keep reading to learn our simple, free, and guaranteed method for making the best decision every time. Well, almost every time!

By themselves, most small decisions matter little in the grand scheme of things. In our business experience, dealing with personal success and failure, we’ve noticed two distinct patterns:

  1. Our capacity to evaluate choices – and make increasingly faster and more accurate decisions about small matters – improves our ability to make the right call when presented with bigger decisions.
  2. No matter how we make decisions, the more we get right, the more successful we are.

Does that mean we should gatherin more information to make better decisions? No – there’s something else at play here.

We’re not qualified to talk about the psychology of decision-making behaviours. And we’re not experts in knowing the decision-making process ingrained in each of us.

Accepted practice

But here are some of the methods widely employed for making decisions that we are aware of:

  • Analytical types: With much expertise in tenders and purchasing, they understand the processes involved in commercial procurement.
  • Metrics types: Skilled in the metrics of market forces, perfect knowledge, or buyer-side dynamics.
  • Legal types: Then there are the decision-making processes in place in legal systems, which focus on ethics, beliefs, and values. These are definitely topics for another day.
  • Philiosophical types: Here, the conversation focuses on mindfulness or the guiding hand of God or the universe.
  • Committee types: Decisions can also be made by committee, boards, stakeholder engagement and public consultation processes.

Here is not the place to argue whether any of these methods work. We’ll stick with what we know. This is a conversation about how you – as an individual – make better decisions – not how organisations do.

Movie quotes method

Being movie fans, we find it easier to talk about strategies for individuals in movie scene terms. So, here goes:

  • Tom Cruise/Risky Business method:  “Sometimes, you just have to say “what the f…!
  • Anakin Skywalker/ Star Wars Ep 3 method: “I say patience, master.
  • Darth Vader/ S.W. Ep 6 method: Being compelled to act by outside circumstances because “you don’t know the power of the dark side“.

Given a few minutes, you could easily come up with a list of other quotes that fit our narrative.

Businessman holding a guarantee card.

The guaranteed method

The best salespeople use some techniques to help close a sale by helping wavering buyers make decisions.

These subtlely influence their leads to take their preferred course of action. One of our favourites is the Ben Franklin method, which works like this:

  1. Make a list of reasons why they should act.
  2. Make another list of the reasons why they shouldn’t act.
  3. Add up all the reasons for and against buying. The one with the most reasons wins.

This is not a discussion about the ethics or efficacy of decision-making. For some, this is more a method of discovery than a blueprint for decision-making.

The consequences of not deciding

When faced with big decisions, many become frozen in a period of inaction. It’s easy to justify making no decision by claiming to be in information-gathering mode.

You might call this the “flight, flight or freeze” alternative. That’s not an unusual choice. After all, this approach helped humans to survive in an environment where they were food for bigger, faster or stronger predators.

Of course, that’s all changed.

But the built-in defensive mechanism that causes those reactions are still easily accessed. They can be used in a conscious way to improve the quality, speed, frequency, size, and, ultimately, the success of our decisions.

The only person responsible for your decisions is you. You can’t outsource the decision-making processes because only you are responsible for its success or failure.

You can’t be influenced by the effort, execution or implications by, for or with others on this. You must be the one who makes the decision for this to work.

Ticking clock.

Our simple decision-making method

As promised, here’s the method we use. We’ll give you the psychology behind it shortly.

This is how we make all our decisions now.

Toss a coin.

“Heads, I do this – tails, I do that.”

Daniel Mumby

What? Can it be that simple?

Wait. There’s a missing step. It’s not the outcome of the coin toss – it’s how you feel about the outcome that determines how you should act.

If you find yourself at peace with the result, there’s your decision. If you find yourself saying “best of three coin tosses”, then you really wanted the other outcome.

Either way, all your ethics, values, beliefs, experiences, biases, and intelligence have been wrapped up in deciding the outcome. In a single instant, you worked out which way you really want to go.

Why this method works

It’s something to do with your subconscious. Your capacity to quickly see, evaluate decide – often in a split-second – and commit to that choice.

Today, our conscious, logical minds often get in the way of finding clarity. So, we start second-guessing, over-evaluating, procrastinating, seeking input, guidance, and feedback.

But your gut often knows the real path. The conflict surfaces because you are at odds with the outcome we are seeking.

This method cuts through all those layers and goes straight to the heart of getting guidance from the very thing that has always protected you.

It’s the only thing that truly cares about your well-being – your subconscious.

This isn’t a conversation about making decisions on the fly without experience, guidance or perspective.

We want to act, think and be in ways that are congruent with your own authentic self. We think that works for everyone.

So, if you want to find a way to make better, quicker, decisions, this method should help.

Oh, and may the force will be with you – always!