You’ve got a huge decision to make. What do you do? There are pros and cons, consequences and outcomes, potential profits and losses that must be properly weighed.
Do you play it safe or take the risk?
Big decisions are hard to make
What makes making big decisions so tough is that your brain isn’t wired to make one large jump. It prefers shorter easier steps. When you try to make a big decision, you expend a lot of time working and reworking an idea. You work to perfect it. You attempt viewing it from all angles and seek to avoid any negative consequences.
Aiming for the perfect solution can actually delay and hinder the decision-making process. Very few decisions are perfect–without any negative consequences. Striving for a no-consequence solution can lead to you not making a decision at all. And when no decision is made, nothing’s executed, and nothing gets accomplished.
The Art of Decision Making
Decision making is an art. It involves intricate analysis, synthesis and evaluation of ideas and possibilities.
Big Decisions are the result of several smaller choices
Let’s use Henry Ford’s car business to illustrate how this process works:
- Reducing the standard workday from nine hours to eight.
- Doubling workers’ pay.
These two decisions reduce employee turnover from 370 percent to just 16 percent. And even though he reduced the workday by an hour productivity rose from 40 percent to 70 percent.
His decision to focus on employee morale and invest in and improve the lives of his workers made him the world’s greatest automobile maker and a billionaire. And his success came after steadily and systematically reducing the price of the Model T from $800 to $350 over a nine-year time period.
These smaller decisions–reducing the number of hours worked per day, doubling worker’s pay and lowering the retail price of the car seems counterintuitive and should have made him lose money. But by making smaller decisions that impacted people is what made the decision of mass production the success it was.
Your brain is programmed for simplicity
Research shows that the human brain is hard-wired for efficiency. It seeks and finds the most efficient and energy saving method to do everything.
Every movement and action is an intricate maze of staggering complexity. Scratching your nose requires your brain to choose which of your body’s hundreds of muscle fibers should be contracted and in what order. There is an infinite number of ways that task can be completed but the brain chooses the path of least resistance.
Conscientiously, you are unable to comprehend and understand the process our brain undergoes to do the smallest tasks. You are only aware of larger tasks and processes which are an aggregate of millions of tiny decisions your brain undergoes every second.
This process and logic should be applied to making larger decisions. You must make multiple small choices that culminate in one major decision.
Small choices lead to small mistakes that are easily fixed
Once you’ve made a big decision it’s hard to go back and undo what’s been done. When you hang all your hopes on one big decision you are setting yourself up for a huge victory or a massive disaster.
The greater the risk, the greater the consequence. A bad decision can alter your future, ruin your business, cost you money or even a relationship. And when you expend copious amounts of time and effort in making a large decision, you are more apt to blindness concerning the holes in your logic that lead you to make a poor choice. You’ll stick with what you decided and defend it. You are also less likely to change course which can end up costing you, even more, time, energy and resources. It’s hard to cut your losses when you make one large decision.
A big success is an aggregate of tiny choices
Most successes are not the result of one big decision. Instead, success is constructed from a slew of tiny decisions. Smaller decisions are more flexible and fixable.
Making smaller decisions also allows you to mitigate risks. You don’t usually make a huge mistake from a small decision. Good small choices create small wins. One small win leads to another and another. They form a chain of good decision-making.
Big decisions are burdensome and heavy. You are more apt to put off making a decision when a big looming consequence is hanging threateningly over your head. Breaking a decision down into pieces and steps makes the process easier and much less daunting. You progress quicker and build confidence.
If you decide to change your lifestyle and eat healthy, it’s better to start by deciding which small actions to integrate into your lifestyle first. In lieu of going completely vegan all at once, you may want to start by drinking one more bottle of water per day and replace your normal, unhealthy snacks with fruit.
However, if you completely change your entire lifestyle all at once, you will become discouraged. And when you do, it’s hard to shake it off and keep going. Adapting to drinking more water and eating healthier snacks is easier to adjust and stick to. When you become demotivated and fall off the wagon, it is so much easier to get back up and resume. The risk of failure is smaller which is far less burdensome than trying to cut all meat, dairy and eggs out of your diet in one swoop.
How to make a big decision
- Think about of the smaller components of this decision
- Determine what steps you need to take and what resources you need
- Make small decisions about these things first. Each small decision adds to the larger one and before you know it, you’ve reached your intended goal
Think about Henry Ford and the small adjustments he made. By using the step-by-step process of making small decisions that built upon each other, he changed the entire manufacturing industry forever. He impacted the lives of his workers, made the Model T affordable for the common man and became a billionaire and icon.