big decisions

Got a Big Decision to Make? Here’s How to Get it Right

Big decisions are tough to make and even harder to get right. Things like changing jobs, starting a business or buying a property are all huge calls that most people face at one time or another, but don’t always nail first time.

The question is, how do you make these big decisions and give yourself the greatest chance of getting them right?

I’ve got a couple of approaches that have worked for me, and am always interested in the way others tackle big calls too, so here are a few perspectives that might help you take the right turn at your next juncture.

1. Seek sound advice

An approach I’ve found extremely useful is to engage the advice of an old hand, someone’s who’s been there, done that and come out with some squint marks from smiling along the way.

Different perspectives provoke you to ask questions that you may not have considered, and an old hand’s experience in similar scenarios certainly helps to broaden your assessment.

Whether you have someone you consider a mentor or not, getting sound advice to help make a decision is simply a matter of asking the opinion of people you respect and admire.

2. Lay it all out

When a friend of mine rolls up to one of life’s big intersections, he weighs it all up with a list of pros and cons. It’s methodical, sets everything out in black and white and forces you to consider all the angles with reference to your current position.

This is an approach that can be used across both investments, where things are fairly black and white, and career, where it tends to be a bit grey.

Whatever the conundrum, this method involves categorically weighing up each aspect of the equation and making a call on the balance of good and bad.


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3. Don’t overthink it

It sounds reckless, but rolling the dice based on your intuition can be an incredibly effective way to make faster decisions with a better than even chance of success.

Perhaps more importantly, intuition also encourages you approach the next phase with the right attitude. If the decision works out, which your gut feels that it will, that’s great. If not, you’ll know fairly soon and should have the confidence to move on to something else.

This is an approach one of my mentors employs and it’s proven very effective throughout his career. Things haven’t always come off, but the ability to make quick assessments and go in with the right attitude have helped him quickly correct any missteps.

4. Set your emotions aside

It’s quite easy to make rash decisions when you’re worked up, but research suggests the best time to make a big call is when you’re emotionally ambivalent.

A study out of the Michigan Ross School of Business found that emotional ambivalence, which is the simultaneous experience of positive and negative emotions, boosts judgment by increasing your openness to alternative perspectives.

It makes sense – being better at making decisions when you’re calm – when you think back to your state of mind the last time you made a shocker.

Of course, everyone has a different approach to making big decisions, and if your way has seen you successful and smiling to date then there’s no reason to change it.

However, I reckon it’s always worth understanding how others’ go about it to see if there’s anything that can help you become a better big decision maker.