Why is it so difficult for us to make choices sometimes? Why do we end up going in circles repeatedly even after being presented with the options we need to make a choice? And why do we end up regretting the decision we take even if we know it was the best option we had at that time?
Let us take up the classic example of buying a car. You want to buy one, but cannot decide which one to buy no matter how hard you try to rack your brains over the matter. So what do you do?
Thankfully, a few psychologists and neurologists have come up with a couple of strategies to help you as well as other individuals stuck in these kinds of situations. Here are those strategies explained for your benefit.
Choosing a research strategy
Decide an appropriate research strategy for the purchase. Set boundaries and stick to them so that you do not wander off the target (for example, the car type, your budget, etc.). For instance, ask two friends, search the internet for an hour, visit two car dealers, etc. These would help limit your options as well as help you reach a decision faster.
In contrast to the popular notion that a bigger choice would translate to a better decision, the bigger the choice, the more options you would need to consider. This may delay the decision making process considerably. In certain cases, it may prevent you from making a decision altogether, throwing you into a vicious cycle of endless options. So make smaller choices, limit your options accordingly and sift through these options for the right decision.
Accepting the ‘good enough’
Nothing is perfect in this world, not even you. So stop aiming for ‘the perfect’ and start aiming for the ‘good enough‘. You will be surprised at the amount of clarity you achieve by keeping pragmatism as a primary factor in decision-making. So include choices that meet the basic requirements instead of incorporating only those that are considered the best. Doing so would help you narrow down your options when it comes to choosing something that meets all your requirements satisfactorily.
Going with the gut instinct
Never dismiss the gut instinct! Researchers have found out that sometimes the gut instinct would help you make the right decision even if your mind says otherwise. They believe that decisions taken from the heart are easily accepted when compared to those taken from the mind. They also point out that should the decision you take choose to backfire or not work out, you would find it easier to forgive your heart more than your mind.
Sharing the burden
Some of us tend to think that taking things into our own hands would make us happier. However, studies have revealed that it is quite the opposite. Consider this, if you make a decision all by yourself, you would probably end up questioning it more than once and keep nagging yourself about its validity. At times, this uncertainty would prevent you taking a decision altogether.
However, if you ask someone else to help you, you will find it easier to narrow down your choices as well as take the right decision faster. Alternatively, tossing a coin helps some reach a decision faster, mainly because they are letting someone or something else choose for them. This way, you (and everyone else who thinks likewise) can end up either being grateful for that someone/something for helping you out is the outcome is positive, or blame them if the outcome is negative.
You took a decision. Fine, now stop questioning it. You have made a decision, and no amount of questioning and nagging can make you retrace your steps. So, as and when you take your decision, wrap up all your thoughts and questions, and focus on putting that decision to work so that you can concentrate more on the outcome.
Braving the consequences
Not all the decisions you take would work out. The consequence of a decision would also wear away with time. Every decision that you take would lose its importance after a certain period. So stick to that one decision that you choose from a mountain of others. Be positive or negative, the outcome of this decision is only temporary and would slowly fade away from your mind.
An alternative approach
Here is an alternative approach as a bonus to the whole decision making process. If you are given two different choices to make, act as if you have taken the first choice and live with it for three days. Note down all your feelings, thoughts, dreams and regrets during this period. After the three days, act as if you have taken the second choice and follow this cycle for another three days. Compare the notes on the end of the process and decide accordingly. This would help you arrive at the right decision faster.