On Decision-Making

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

One thing I've noticed about very successful people, time and time again: they are good at making at decisions.

Which doesn't necessarily mean that successful people are good at making decisions with successful outcomes - although often, of course, they're pretty good at that too - but rather, that they are confident, skillful, and efficient in the act of decision-making itself. And if their decision transpires not to work out as envisioned (and truly, when did a decision ever work out exactly as you thought it would, for better or worse?!) then they are equally good at making the next decision required to 'course correct'.

The ability to act decisively is, I believe, crucial for navigating our working world. In an era of information overload coupled with increasingly widespread self-employment, we are tasked with making more daily decisions than ever before. This dizzying array of choice is perhaps the guiding aspiration of *late stage capitalism*, but anyone who has ever been paralysed by decision fatigue - whether in a supermarket aisle or while trying to figure out their next career move - will attest that our plethora of options can sometimes feel like more of a burden than a luxury.

Good decision-makers act from a place of clarity and confidence. The former can be cultivated by working with a clear sense of priority - see last week's newsletter for more on this - and a focused state of mind (achieved through meditation, proper rest, good nutrition, and all those other boring but unavoidable basics of solid mental and physical health). The latter is built through a combination of good old-fashioned life experience, paired with a strong sense of self-worth (something that can also be built with time and practice; more on this in a future newsletter, too). While self-doubt and overwhelm are inevitable at points, the truth is that decision-making becomes exponentially easier when you feel clearheaded and self-assured on more days than not.

A lot of our decision paralysis is underwritten by tinges of career envy and, let's face it, greed: We are frozen our mutual impulses to make loads of money and maintain artistic integrity. Protect our most productive creative time and have a consistent flow of client commissions. Travel constantly like that person we follow on Instagram, while still maintaining a sense of security, structure, and routine. If that seems like a near-impossible combination to achieve, it's because it is (and anyone who appears to have struck the perfect balance is likely making BTS sacrifices that you and I know nothing about.)

The thing they don't tell you about good decision-making is that it's really more about the 'no' than the 'yes': It starts with truly accepting that you can't have the best of all possible outcomes, so that you don't tread water while you try to figure out how. In work, as in life, we have to learn to live with the FOMO of projects left unpursued; opportunities declined; and potential career paths unexplored–or else live in the agonising limbo of forever trying to decide which way to go, without ever taking a single step along the path.


Decisions Decisions Decisions, TED Radio Hour Listen

How To, Maybe, Be Less Indecisive (Or Not) The New York Times Read

How To Make A Decision, The School of Life Watch