Thursday, October 24, 2013

Secrets Of Successful People: Making Firm Decisions

Or: “Revisiting Decisions is the Death of Peace of Mind.”

Oh, how I envy those people who can make decisions and then consider the matter firmly decided.  I haven’t read the books, but I’m sure that it’s one (two?) of the secrets of happy, successful people.

I can’t do either thing myself.  Making decisions in the first place is difficult for me, and having made a decision I will revisit it for what can only be described as “as long as possible.” 

“Self doubt” is the capsule description of this problem, and there is no doubt that self doubt has contributed mightily to the lack of success and happiness in this world (Guilty, your honor). 

Successful people must not only be decisive in all matters, they must also be incisive.  They must analyze the issues carefully, understanding them if possible, and come to reasonable conclusions.  They must then be confident in these conclusions.  They must allow a firm decision to stand, although prudence often dictates that a decision come with a back door, where an escape may quietly be made if problems arise.  Even successful people are liable to make wrong decisions, and only an arrogant fool would stick with a bad choice no matter what happened. 

It must be emphasized that a decision, once made, should be adhered to except in cases of clear error.  Revisiting decisions is often a sign that one is being overly self-analytical, which is never a good thing.

I’m also pretty sure that successful people never avoid decisions that clearly must be made.  Avoided decisions will usually decide themselves, and the results may be unpleasant.  Avoided decisions are not the same thing as deferred decisions or delegated decisions.  Many times a decision should be deferred until the arrival of more information, and sometimes it is best to let your wife decide on the pattern for the silverware, or where you should go out for dinner tonight, or where the family should go on vacation. In fact, if your wife wants to make all of the decisions for the family, you might as well just let her.  

The unfortunate truth is that the real issues here are self-confidence and self-doubt.  “Self-confidence” is a core personality trait; good decision making skills are a side effect.  It is also unfortunate that telling someone that they should be self-confident has the same chance of success as telling someone, if they are black, that they should be white. 

So good luck all of you decision revisitors.  Constantly revisiting decisions is the death of peace of mind.  The only advice that I can offer for this problem would be to go cognitive on it.  Recognize it when it happens, recognize that it is a trigger of sorts.  Stand up and say, out loud if possible, “I'm sticking to my decision.”  The odds are that you were right in the first place.  

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