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You have to know, for example, if it’s more important for you to be near good hospitals or big universities. Would you rather have cultural attractions and sophisticated nightlife or long bike trails and nice parks? The choices force you to look at what kind of life you lead or would like to lead. No wonder so many people put off finding a place to live. The process requires that you not only look outward at your geographic choices but inward as well.
The same happens with choosing a career, choosing a spouse or life partner, buying a house, or making any other major decision. You have to have a solid handle on who you are as a person before you can know who you want to be with, what you want to do, or where you want to live.
The eight decision-making styles
Each of our brains is wired differently when it comes to decision-making. In order to start making better decisions or to stop putting off making them at all, you need to understand your natural decision-making style.
Loner or Pollster?
If you’re a loner type, you probably try to make most decisions on your own. It’s not your natural inclination to involve others, even if the ultimate decision will affect people around you, such as a spouse or co-worker. You trust your own judgment or feel that the dilemma is not something you should bother people with. If it’s a business decision, you don’t call a meeting to get input from colleagues. If it’s a personal decision, you don’t call a family meeting or email all your friends. You go it alone.
Taken to an extreme, the loner position is a handicap, because the input of others is an important element of sound decision-making. On the other hand, a little bit of loner attitude is a practical approach to decision-making; after all is said and done, it’s up to you and you alone to decide how you cast your vote.
If you’re a pollster type, you do the opposite. You survey anybody and everybody to find out what they know about the options you’re choosing among, or you ask them what they would do in your situation. Taken too far, the pollster style can mean that you secretly hope someone else will make the decision for you and will tell you what to do. Used responsibly, though, the pollster method is a good way to make an informed decision. It can also be useful for building consensus when a decision you make will affect the lives or work of others.
Forecaster or Bean-Counter?
Forecasters are, as you might have guessed, future-oriented. They tend to focus on the implications of decisions they’re making. They think through where various forks in the road would lead. This visionary approach ensures that a decision you make today won’t mess up your life tomorrow, because you’ve thought through its long-range consequences. A common pitfall of this approach, however, is that you might see the forest but lose sight of the trees; you consider the big picture but overlook critical details.
That’s where the bean-counter approach becomes important. Bean-counters focus on the details and the bottom line. They gather the nitty-gritty data that’s needed to make a fully informed decision. The key here is to strike a balance between the long-range view of the forecaster and the attention to detail of the bean-counter.
Analyst or Feeler?
I once saw a client in my former career counseling practice who was a 55-year-old engineering professor recently admitted to medical school. He was having an extremely difficult time deciding whether to embark on such a long, arduous route at that point in his life. This man was a perfect example of the analyst style of decision-making.
He would come into my office with elaborate spreadsheets and graphs that laid out his options and analyzed the pros and cons of each. Unfortunately, all that fancy data analysis wasn’t getting him any closer to a decision. What was missing was the perspective of the feeler.
Good decisions are based on the right balance of head and heart, on analyzing objective data but also listening to what your gut instincts tell you. Feelers listen to what their values tell them is the right thing to do, and they listen to their intuition. Those aren’t things that can be plotted on a chart or graph, but they are often just as valid as the analyst’s data.
Hunter-Gatherer or Settler?
Do you tend to leave no stone unturned when hunting for information to help you make a decision? Do you gather so much information you can’t begin to sort through it all? Or do you lose patience with the research process and become so uncomfortable about not having made a decision that you just settle on an option, even if you’re not 100 percent sure it’s the right one?
As with all of these pairs of decision-making styles, striking the right balance between hunter-gatherer and settler is essential. You have to collect enough information to make an informed decision but not use the research process as an excuse to keep delaying it. You have to call an end to the debating, deliberating, and weighing of options at some point. But you shouldn’t make too hasty a decision just for the sake of having one made.
What’s your decision-making style?
You probably see at least a little bit of yourself in each of the eight styles I just described. You may also tend to use one approach with certain types of decisions and the opposite approach with others.
Nevertheless, most everyone has a natural inclination toward one direction or the other, regardless of the type of decision or the setting in which you’re making it.
|Excerpted from The Complere Idiot’s Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Second Edition, Copyright 2013 Alpha Books / Michelle Tullier. Used by permission of Penguin Group. |
All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.