How To Be More Decisive: 9 Tips For Making Better Decisions More Quickly

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Are you the type of person who balks at swift decision making?

Does the thought of having to think on your feet and choose something quickly fill you with fear and anxiety?

You’re not alone.

Many people dread situations in which they’ll be forced to make choices at the drop of a hat, rather than taking their time to weigh all options and agonize over which direction to take.

But we don’t always have the luxury of time when making a decision. Being decisive is an important skill to learn. It is also a type of muscle that needs to be developed and strengthened.

If you’re eager to learn how to be more decisive so that you can make better decisions quickly and easily, these tips can help you get there.

1. Stop being afraid of failure!

This is easier said than done, especially if you’ve grown up in an environment where you were made to feel shame if you messed up.

Fear is the biggest roadblock to being decisive, because all you energy is focused on how many things can go wrong and not on everything that can go right.

When your mind is focused on how spectacularly you may fail, then it’s almost like you’re manifesting the outcome you’re terrified of avoiding. Basically, if one is obsessed with loss, that is all they’ll find.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that all great inventions came through repeated, methodical failures. Remember the words spoken by Thomas Edison in situations like this:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

It’s only through your “failures” that you gain the knowledge and ability to succeed.

By remaining paralyzed by the idea of failure, you won’t achieve anything. Be more decisive and know that even if you happen to choose the option that is least optimal, it’s better than choosing no option at all.

2. Focus entirely on the present task.

It is through relaxed focus that empowered decision-making can unfold.

Have you noticed that a master in his or her field exudes an aura of effortlessness and easy confidence?

This doesn’t just translate to academia or craft either. It’s just as valid in painters, martial arts instructors, gymnasts, chemists, and archers.

Do you think any of these people agonize over a million things at once while they’re working or competing? No. They’re entirely focused on the task at hand, impervious to distractions going on around them.

When you’re distracted and multitasking, your attention isn’t centered where it should be, which is on what you’re trying to work on or make a decision about.

To be decisive, you must declutter your mind and focus on doing one thing at a time.

3. Look within to understand what’s going on without.

Another way to be more decisive is to take time to sit with yourself and understand what it is you’re thinking and feeling.

Assess and review both current situations and past scenarios as if you were helping a close friend sort themselves out.

If it helps you to clarify what it is you’re thinking and feeling, write down your introspective analysis. Make notes about the situation, including all the aspects that are keeping you from being decisive.

Alternatively, if you’re analyzing a situation that has already passed, write about how you handled it, what went well, what didn’t, and how you think you can improve on your performance the next time around.

Also make a note of any external factors or people that were hampering the process. Once you’re aware of what’s bogging you down, it’s easier to strategize in the future.

If you’ve ever heard someone say “hindsight is 20/20,” well, yes it is. And you can take advantage of hindsight the next time you’re in a similar situation.

Without self-reflection and self-assessment, it’s likely you’ll keep tripping over the same internal unknowns.

Know thyself first, and you’ll have a much easier time with quick decision-making in the future.

4. Slow things down to speed them up.

This may sound counterintuitive, but hear me out.

Napoleon supposedly told his manservant: “dress me slowly, I’m in a hurry.”

In essence, it’s better to slow things down and do them correctly than rush through them and mess them up.

With practice, this type of slowed focus can actually speed up your decision-making process exponentially.

One method that can help you is simple meditation. This technique works very well for developing your personal will.

Find a quiet space and make it clear to everyone around you that this is a non-negotiable, do-not-disturb time. Draw your attention toward your lower abdomen, and focus on how it moves in and out as you breathe.

Fire could be falling from heaven right now and it wouldn’t matter: you can attend to it after taking ten minutes of stillness.

Sure, an experienced meditator can find stillness in even the wildest storm, but it takes time to get to that level of mastery. If you’re not a master yet, start small and be gentle in your practice.

The gift of peace to oneself is immeasurable.

Throughout any given day, if you ever start to feel unbalanced, draw in a deep breath and return focus to your lower abdomen. Root yourself in the moment, and let go of all the other thoughts running through your mind like sandstorms.

Your decision making will be far easier after, you’ll see.

Be sure to do this kind of meditation every day. Being still with your breath and observing your thoughts without immersive attachment restores mental clarity, energy, self-identity, and purpose.

Your mind is your own and you don’t exist solely for the benefit of others.

To sharpen both your mind and will, do this humble practice daily. You’ll be amazed at how your ability to be decisive at a moment’s notice will benefit.

5. Surround yourself with people who embody aspects of who you want to be.

Would you like a rather unpopular idea? If you want to be swift and effective in both decision-making and your life in general, don’t waste time with ineffectual people.

Instead, surround yourself with those who accomplish what they set their minds to.

Actions will tell you what someone is really like, rather than their opinions, their appearance, or their belongings.

Furthermore, take note that the most decisive people (and animals) are not herd creatures. Lions and wolves act quickly and decisively: sheep and lemmings do not.

Observe how these creatures behave as a source of inspiration for your own way of purpose and power.

Truly, if you want to improve any aspect of yourself, seek out the people, animals, and places that are masters of their niche.

Remember that in the same way that you are what you eat, you become that which you focus on most. As such, nature and the wild are the greatest teachers and sources of inspiration for finding your truth and power.

To accelerate this type of laser focus and personal development, quietly distance yourself from people who crave drama and gossip.

Instead, seek out those who are accomplishing projects and living fully. Even if the former are long-term friends or family.

Be polite, but ruthless. In this, there is no middle ground. Life flows much more quickly and fluidly without extra weight.

Remember that one day these bodies of ours will die, and we never know when that expiration date will roll around.

Don’t waste time. Hone in on the task at hand.

6. Take a break from electrical devices.

To be more decisive, cut down on your phone/computer use.

These devices are useful in many ways, but they’re also little attention vampires! They encourage short-term attention spans, and force you to put all your attention toward external stimuli, rather than being engaged and inspired by your own thoughts.

Think about it. Whether you’re watching TV, replying to texts, or playing computer games, you are always reacting and responding to things. None of your actions are coming from your own ideas, wants, or inspirations.

When do you have a chance to sit and contemplate your thoughts?

How can you be expected to be decisive in the moment when you never have the opportunity to think or feel for yourself? 

Cut down on all the things that require you to just absorb instead of expressing. Less screen time, more reading. Less phone time, more journalling and thinking.

Resolve to pick up your phone to check your texts only after you have completed X amount of tasks.

Again, focusing on one thing at a time gets things done faster and in a more thorough fashion.

Turn off the buzzer and you’ll be surprised at how much more you get done, and how much more clearly you understand yourself.

7. Clear out unnecessary distractions.

Cutting down your options is another excellent method of making better decisions more quickly.

In simplest terms, reduce the options or stimuli in front of you so it’s easier to make decisions about whatever it is you’re facing.

For instance, if three of your friends are all asking questions or otherwise demanding your time simultaneously, then ask for quiet and deal with one of them at a time.

When it comes to decision making, cut down the potential options so you’re not paralyzed by them and go into overwhelm/overload mode.

If there are 20 options ahead of you, narrow them down to two or three that are the most appealing or effective. Be ruthless – there’s no time for “maybes” in this process. This will help you to be more decisive.

8. Stop looking for permission or reassurance from outside sources.

A lot of people struggle with fast decision-making because they’re constantly questioning themselves.

They likely faced a lot of criticism growing up, or else had their decisions undermined by others early in their career.

If you find that you’re turning to others for reassurance that your decisions are the right ones, stop and ask yourself why.

Whose approval are you waiting for? And why do you think they need to be consulted before you make a decision for yourself?

You are an autonomous being, and master of your own thoughts and actions.

9. Engage in physical activities that require quick reactions.

Practicing swift and measured responses to life’s curveballs doesn’t have to be serious all the time.

In fact, you learn faster without the self-imposed weight of life’s duties.

There are many recreational past-times that use the same neurological pathways and thereby help one to be decisive.

Learning to juggle and/or taking part in cerebral full-contact sports such as fencing and Jiu-Jitsu are tremendously beneficial in this regard.

Without practicing playful confrontation, humans become cowardly and insular. In these sports there is no grey zone. You’re forced to discover strategies that work, which gives you more confidence in everyday life.

If you don’t parry the blade, you get hit. Then you realize that the fear of getting hurt is more painful than the blow itself, which in turn makes you more confident. So, either way it’s a win-win.

If that’s all a bit too scary, that’s ok. Even a simple game of catch or frisbee can help you with dawdling.

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About The Author

Finn Robinson has spent the past few decades travelling the globe and honing his skills in bodywork, holistic health, and environmental stewardship. In his role as a personal trainer and fitness coach, he’s acted as an informal counselor to clients and friends alike, drawing upon his own life experience as well as his studies in both Eastern and Western philosophies. For him, every day is an opportunity to be of service to others in the hope of sowing seeds for a better world.