I had been on a holiday last month to New York for Christmas. The month leading up to the visit was real hectic, since my wife and me had to plan the visa, hotel, flights and the attractions itinerary, in under 25 days. We managed to plan everything just in time and managed to enjoy a great trip.
Planning a trip in less time is always hectic and as I looked back on what we could have improved to make things better next time around, realized that we spent a lot of time finalizing the hotels for our stay which caused unnecessary stress.
Though we had a broad budget in mind and shortlisted a few hotels, we were constantly looking for offers to ensure we get the best deal. And we were never happy with what we got. We always believed that we could get better next day due to some reason or the other.
We kept postponing decision making; with the hope of a better result in the near future.
We kept giving excuses. Had almost finalized a hotel with a decent rate which met all our requirements, however, then we saw some banner ad about a cyber sale happening in 3 days’ time and we thought maybe we could get a better deal. And so, postponed our decision.
On the day of cyber sale, the rates actually went up! We were ruining our decision. We waited a day more and rates fell again. We became greedy, we were somehow sure that it would fall further. But the next day, it was the same. So finally, some sense prevailed and we went ahead and booked the room. And to our surprise, the next day rates again dipped.
We ended up spending a week waiting for the right offer. At the end, the best rates were still the ones we had seen 8 days back. We lost an opportunity, but since moved on as we had so much to do for the trip. Still given a choice, we would eliminate those 4-5 days, as we ended wasting a lot of time which could have been used more productively. Maybe it was meant to teach us something!
It happens so much in our daily life.
We have a decision to make, professional or personal. But quick decision making does not come naturally to us.
We prefer to postpone. We do that because we feel a future date would be the better decision making time. Things would be better. Circumstances would be more suitable.
Also most of the time its because we feel making quick decisions may also be considered as being casual or hasty: decisions made without proper diligence because we may not have all information in the present and we need to research more. However in reality, these are merely excuses we give ourselves to avoid decision making.
Also we don’t really realize the real consequences of postponing decisions. It’s really bad for us.
We seldom account for all the negatives of postponing a decision. Yes there is a hope of better decision in future however that’s only a hope; it may be not end that way. And if it’s not as what we have hoped for, it causes negativity. And sometimes we may end up with something worse. That causes depression.
But what we definitely lose in the process is all the uncertainty which this postponement brings; the stress and anxiety which we constantly experience. And that also impacts our focus on other things we do; our efficiency drops. It disturbs our whole equilibrium. At the end it may not be worth at all.
On the other hand, making decisions without giving it a thought is also not suitable
Every decision demands a certain time and effort based on its importance however pushing it beyond that required time is what should be avoided.
So how do we ensure we don’t stretch a decision beyond its acceptable time limit and in the process hurt ourselves?
There is no set answer but I have learnt that it’s best to set a deadline to make a decision. When you set a deadline, you take into account the due diligence required for the same. If it’s a small decision, the deadline can be a minute and if it’s more important, accordingly.
Having a deadline automatically alerts our internal systems to start its work on decision making process. We become aware and many times if we really practice and stick to the deadline, it eliminates all the stress associated with decision making. Also with practice the deadlines are created subconsciously. It becomes our second nature.
Don’t we all know people who make quick decisions? We admire them. How do they do it? For them, the system is internalized. A deadline is automatically generated for a decision to be taken and hence they take actions quickly. It takes practice but then becomes second nature to them.
I surely think if you do this, whatever be the future course of the decision taken, you will be more content, as this is how you are. So even if the hotel prices drop after you booked, you simply don’t care because the decision you had made was given enough time; was the best informed decision at that time which you committed. It’s a process for you and would do the same every time, so there is no hurt.
This applies so much in our professional life as well. In business, when I interview candidates, always feel there can be somebody better for a role if only I wait a bit longer. However over a period of time, realized that we can’t keep waiting for the best candidate, we have to decide and move on. Or else, the candidate we already have shortlisted may also be lost and we are back to square one.
We can’t always regret about how different things would have been had we waited, we should really appreciate what we have got.
Need to realize, we win some and lose some. I think it all balances out at the end. But atleast, with timely decisions, we eliminate uncertainty, stress and loss of focus, which may be much more important in the long run