Lioness in Tree

Learn to be decisive and build confidence.

Decision making is a life skill. The trouble is, most people can’t decide things in a timely fashion. On average, people take far too long to decide something especially when it’s not important. Learning to make decisions under a minute, will help you build confidence and you‘ll be viewed as decisive.

Waking up at four in the morning to put this article together happened because I made a conscious decision to do it. Learning how to make decisions quickly takes some thought and a little practice, but anyone can learn how.

Most decisions we make can be made quickly. For example: Say you‘re an NFL quarterback, being chased by man-eating linebackers, your decisions have to be quick, or you‘ll fall prey.

But to clarify, not all decisions should be made in haste. A small percentage of them, the important ones, require time to consider. Like purchasing your first home, investing long term, or finding that special someone.

I can remember the word decided to be one of the first words I commonly misspelled when I was ten years old. My mother, being a teacher, wrote it inside a book about Pearl Harbor my grandfather gave me, so I’d remember it. She quickly jotted it down, while she was on the phone. A quick decision on her part, modelled for me, at an early age.

The book, used to prepare a project on Pearl Harbor, pointed out why Japan decided to attack at dawn. Clearly, to achieve the element of surprise. The magnitude of that decision turned out to be enormous.

As a writer, I make decisions non-stop. I decide which direction my plot will take, what my characters will look like, the perfect words to use, etc. If someone who writes, can’t make decisions quickly, the writing slows to a crawl. Imagine a writer not making a deadline? It’s unbelievable, I know.

In Life, there are only two kinds of decisions, important and not important.

We make decisions all day long. Some are trivial while others are significant, even life-altering. The trick is to put your attention, and time, on the important ones. Decide how long to give yourself based on importance. It has to be reasonable though. Taking too long can backfire, as you will discover.

Buying a car is a perfect example. Time is needed to sort out needs vs. wants. People use their cars almost every day, so investing time in the decision is wise. The goal is to make the right decision. However, once you know what you want, it’s time for action. Don’t be one of those people who wait, then say, “It wasn’t meant to be.” That’s an excuse for indecision. Decide and follow through with action. If you take too long, the car you want could sell or be out of stock. You could miss a sale, costing you money. As a result, an opportunity to decide is lost. Timing is everything.

LIon crouching

We see this in nature when a lioness stalks an antelope. She sneaks towards her prey, inching forward, almost motionless, crouching still. Then, accelerating to peak speed, she attacks her next meal with everything she has. If she approaches too fast, she scares the antelope and never catches up. Too slow, the same result.

Balance is required for good decisions. Your job is to weigh what’s important, and what’s not. Then act.

Taking too long with a non-important decision is foolish.

Choosing a movie is a perfect example. When you waste too much time deciding what movie to watch, you end up not watching anything. You saunter off to bed annoyed, discouraged by your indecision.

Try An Experiment

Imagine your time is worth sixty dollars an hour. We’ll all agree that’s about right. Almost what you’d earn by recycling your empties. It’s a dollar a minute for those who don’t math.

Then, let’s say the person next to you has a stopwatch. When you’re ready, they start the timer.

Now, you pick a movie.

Once you choose, the timer stops.

You have to pay the person timing you a dollar for every minute you spend making the decision. If you decide under a minute, you pay nothing. It sounds simple, doesn’t it?

What if it took you five minutes? It’s gonna cost you five bucks. That’s about the cost to rent one from Google Play. If it’s Netflix, that’s half the monthly fee.

Learn how to decide in under a minute. It will save you time and money. Try it the next time you sit down to watch a movie. Remember how you feel when you hand over five bucks, or ten dollars, to the person timing you because you took that long to make a decision.

If the movie you chose is a stinker, then stop it and start over. The point is you won’t be wasting time anymore making a decision. Everybody on Earth gets the same amount of time as everyone else, it’s how you use it that matters. Trust me, you’ll feel better if you decide in less than a minute every time, for unimportant things. When you do, your ability to make wise decisions, increases.

As long as something doesn’t really cost you, move you in a direction you don’t want to go, and won’t hurt anyone, decide quickly. Preferably, under a minute.

Above all, remember that important decisions require more time for scrutiny, for obvious reasons.

Once you start making decisions quickly (under a minute), you’ll see the magic in what I’m saying. Besides, you’ll gain confidence by being the type of person who decides faster. People will notice the change and silently respect you. Meanwhile, permit yourself to think fast when it’s not important. Be the one in the group who decides first. Model quick decision making to your friends.

Finally, if you do make a decision that turns out badly, you can always change your mind. Make adjustments as necessary, and move on.

Lion proudly sitting

I’d love to hear what you think after a week of implementing decisions under a minute. Good luck!