"Every decision made is interleaved with another, causing all the happiness and disappointments in life. Every decision small/big has butterfly effects that are small/big. The decisions could be good or bad. What is good for one could be bad for another. What is good for one could be bad if taken two days later. What is good for one in US could be bad for the same one if he/she were in India.
But, it is decisions that run this world. One cannot run away from decisions.
So, what is it that one should consider while making decisions?"
- It is going to be difficult to avoid the 'advice' tone in this post...I am going to try my best.
- My thoughts below are not towards materialistic decision making ("Canon Vs Sony" type decisions).
- I am no expert...but to me there are just three steps in decision making.
1. Knowing what one wants.This is the first and biggest step in decision making. More often than not, decisions are made based on what the society/community expects from one. At least in India, one blanket rule that applies to decision making is "what will people think or say if I choose to........." and so majority of the decisions don't even involve much thinking. For example, most people from a well-to-do family choose Engineering or Medicine as their career-path. That is a tailor made decision. (Before someone else points out - I chose engineering not because I liked designing modern machines, devices and business applications, but because I was perceived to be a bright student who should 'wisely' 'choose' to do engineering).
'What one wants' does not stop with that. It has different sub-steps - 'wants now', 'wants in 5 years', 'wants in 10 years'.
Prioritizing: Let us assume that 4 or 5 opportunities have presented themselves. The choice that keeps one closer to what he wants, should be chosen. Say one wants to start a new business and also wants to pursue studies and for some reason (say, money), both can't be done at the same time. The business opportunity may not knock the door again.
Timing of the decision: This is a fast-paced life. The world evolves at every degree of its turn. It does not present the same face to the sun everyday. There's always a next person trying to grab one's opportunity. Decisions are expected to be made at the spur of a moment. It is very difficult to make a choice without knowing what one wants. Sometimes, it is best to postpone a decision and wait for the next opportunity - rather than taking a hasty decision. But in the meanwhile, be assured that you will again face a similar situation and better be prepared to make a decision then.
Research: Wherever possible, sufficient research should be done on the object of decision. It is not at all good to take a decision because most people took it. An attempt should be made to relate the choice to one's own aspirations.
Prioritizing, Timing of decision and Research all require the knowledge about oneself. Knowing what one wants involves lot of self-analysis. It comes with practice. And it need not be very specific to the point of wanting to be a ".net programmer working for a multinational company"...it can be as generic as "working among youngsters in an air-cooled office".
2. Never Regret. It is a waste of time. Once a decision is taken and when it is late to pull back, just move forward with it. This will require some compromising - which is better than regretting and getting all the energy drained. To that point, do not make a decision that might disturb you later, emotionally.
3. Watch Out. Whether you have decided to postpone a decision or you know that you have a taken a wrong decision, watch out for the next opportunity. One of my friends wanted to be a teacher....but because of family situation he had to look for a better paying job and became a programmer. He was looking for an opportunity to switch to a similar line of job. He became a trainer in his company. Now he gets to teach and also pursue his programmer job.
Well...that's my chicken soup for the deciding mind. As I stated before, one cannot run away from decisions. It is best to train the mind with small small decisions....wherever possible. When there is a choice between two restaurants, do not shy away with a 'anything is fine for me'.....when you have to choose between Canon S110 and Nikon S630, do not buy what your friend bought without doing sufficient research...when you have to choose between red dress and blue dress, don't take all the time in the world to decide. Small decisions like this which don't have a big impact to your life, will train the mind and ease the process of big decision making. So, use every opportunity to make a decision, make it fast and be prepared for the big occasion. Have a blast!!!!!
Added on June 21, 2009:
Comment left by Vinayak:
"But, we might not always get a chance for step wise decision making. You sure yours works for selecting a life partner?! Your post just misses about instinctive decision making!
I take most decisions on instinct, and have never regretted so far"
I am sure there's more to decision making than I have written.....and I agree with Vinayak that for many people instinctive decision making works. Frankly, the post did not take the direction that I wanted it to because I found myself less-equipped than what the topic demanded.