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5 Tips For Making Tough Decisions At Work

Topics: Career Advice
Sometimes you have to make tough decisions in order to move forward and meet the demands of your job. Even the most decisive people occasionally struggle with knowing how best to proceed.
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Image Credit: Pexels / bruce mars

Every once in a while, you have to make a choice at work without knowing which option or opportunity is best. It can be hard to commit to steering yourself, and maybe your company too, in a certain direction when you aren’t sure how things will turn out. Tough decisions at work shouldn’t be taken lightly. Everyone goes about solving these problems a little differently. But, there are some tools that anyone can use to help make tough choices at work. Here are some things for you to try!

1. Take your time

First things first – when you have a big decision to make, be sure to take your time and not jump the gun. Sometimes, when you’re feeling torn between one choice and another, it can feel tempting to just sort of pick. There’s pressure to move ahead and get going. But it’s important not to let that sense of urgency cloud your better judgement. When you have a decision to make, you want to make it wisely. So don’t act rashly or impulsively. And don’t let anyone else back you into a corner either. Simply explain that you need to take a little time because you want to be sure that you make the best choice for everyone involved.

2. Clearly identify your options

It’s helpful to develop a clear and precise understanding of your choices in order to hone in on the best course of action. For example, let’s say you’re trying to decide how to work with a difficult client. Instead of running through all the possible ways you might handle the situation, narrow down your choices to four or five, maybe even three, different possibilities. You could ask for support from a colleague, commit to spending more time with the client, or decide to have a conversation about the issue, for example. Now you can weigh the pros and cons of each choice and decide which is best. It is difficult when options are more open-ended. So seek to simplify things a bit when you’re feeling stuck.

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3. Don’t ignore your intuition

Some people swear by trusting their “gut instinct”, and they be on to something. There’s certainly at least something to be said for considering any intuitive thoughts or feelings as a part of the equation. Sometimes, an option or idea just doesn’t feel quite right. You might not know exactly why you feel the way you do, but your subconscious might be wiser than you think.

“Your gut is this collection of heuristic shortcuts. It’s this unconscious-conscious learned experience center that you can draw on from your years of being alive,” Melody Wilding, therapist and professor of human behavior at Hunter College told Fast Company. “It holds insights that aren’t immediately available to your conscious mind right now, but they’re all things that you’ve learned and felt. In the moment, we might not be readily able to access specific information, but our gut has it at the ready.”

You probably shouldn’t base your final decision solely on your intuition. But it might be not be a bad idea to allow your gut instincts to factor into the equation.

You probably shouldn’t base your final decision solely on your intuition. But it might be not be a bad idea to allow your gut instincts to factor into the equation.Click To Tweet

4. Determine if it’s a “one-way, or two-way door” decision

Some decisions are irreversible. Others are not. It’s important to understand the difference before making your choice. Basically, there is a lot more wiggle room with what’s sometimes called a two-way door decision. In these instances, you can try something out rather than fully committing to it. Moving forward in this way helps to inspire innovation and progress.

“We think about one-way doors, and two-way doors,” explained Jeff Wilke as a part of the Albert Executive Speaker Series, reported by GeekWire. “A one-way door is a place with a decision if you walk through, and if you don’t like what you see on the other side, you can’t get back. You can’t get back to the initial state. A two-way door, you can walk through and can see what you find, and if you don’t like it, you can walk right back through the door and return to the state that you had before. We think those two-way door decisions are reversible, and we want to encourage employees to make them. Why would we need anything more than the lightest weight approval process for those two-way doors?”

5. Accept that there is no “right” answer

It can be really hard to finalize a tough decision and actually set the wheels into motion, especially if you’ve been debating things for awhile. It can be helpful to accept that there really is no right answer here. You’re not suddenly going to feel certain that you’ve made the right call. Instead, you need to trust your judgement, and your process, and move forward with action. Not making a choice is a choice in itself, and it’s one that can really hold you back professionally. So commit to a direction, stand by it, and give it your all once you put the plan into action. You can rest easy knowing that you took the decision-making process seriously.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you trying to make a tough decision at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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