One of the most pressing concerns people face on pretty much a daily basis is ‘Am I making the right decisions?” Countless websites and self-help books provide solace by blaring tips and tricks from their collective soap boxes, all in the hope of sharpening your decision making skills. Jargon like ‘Ignore the fear of failure’, ‘go with the flow’ and the overused line ‘just do it’. Sure, these words give you a sense of freedom; everything will be fine and dandy as long as you follow your heart. But what if Murphy was proven right and everything goes pear-shaped, would it then feel great to say, ‘Well at least I followed my heart?’

Going with your instincts is one thing, but really making good decisions based on facts is an art in itself. So instead of basing important life decisions on the flip of a coin, here are 5 techniques that can really help you on your journey.

It’s important to embrace this fact first; we do not have all the answers. When we make a rash decision based on hearsay, it is exactly what it is – rash. One scenario would be to guess or use a trial and error method, but that takes too much time and a great deal of effort in real life. The quickest way to gathering more information is to go out and ask other people like friends, colleagues, peers and family. However, there is a trick to this. Make sure to only ask the people who have already experienced it. Stay away from the people that don’t have a clue about it, but seem to know everything.

You can’t go wrong by going right. Taking decisions that go against everything that anyone has ever said usually makes you feel a bit like a rebel, a risk taker and what have you. On the other hand, standing behind what one believes is the right decision in the face of tremendous controversy is the stuff great leaders are made of. Whatever you do, make sure at the helm of it all, your value system, your character and integrity are never compromised.

De-Nile is not just a river in Egypt, We have evolved in such a way that we naturally seek out information that we already agree with and foolishly tend to ignore what we disagree with. Let’s delve a little deeper and understand how Fortune 500 companies use this process. When they make huge investments, they hire a completely separate team to investigate the opposing viewpoint, and then seriously consider the opposite – Thus, weighing their options. Though denial can be good in some instances, these characteristics must not be confused with being hard-headed.

And finally, perhaps the most important part of the process, make that decision! Be willing to actually go through with what you have decided. Opportunities don’t stick around for too long, and even if they do the law of diminishing returns applies – in that, the longer you wait to seize the opportunity, the smaller the return typically is. Don’t fall prey to analysis paralysis, but rather make the best decision possible with the information at hand using some of the methods you’ve stumbled upon today.

Remember earlier, when we mentioned how things can go pear-shaped if you don’t make the right decisions. Sometimes, and it is a rare occurrence, that it will even if you weigh your options and go with the best one. In case irony makes a beeline towards you, it’s always a smart move to have a backup plan in place. It’s important to understand that all plans are made up of both constants and variables, and that sometimes the variables work against you. Being smart about it means you always have a contingency plan, knowing circumstances can sometimes fall beyond the boundaries of reason or control.

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