Decision making defined – A decision-making process results in a course of action chosen by a person. Whether it is an intuitive decision-making process (like meditation for decision making) or following the rationality decision making model – choosing a course of action means deciding what to do next. This process includes thinking about the consequences of each option and then selecting an appropriate response. Decisions are made based on values, preferences, and beliefs. These decisions are influenced by choices, which may result in actions.
Rational decision-making is different from problem-solving…
Problem-solving involves investigating the given information and discovering all possible solutions. Traditionally, it’s argued that problem-solveing is a step towards decision-making, so that the information you gather during that process may be used to make decisions.
So you might be wondering why you struggle with indecisiveness. Where does this inability to take action towards a decision come from?
What does it mean to be indecisive?
Many people struggle with indecision. Whether you blame it on your zodiac sign or other external circumstances – but fear not – there is a way you can become more decisive.
Most indecision stems from uncertainty. We struggle to make decisions based on the fear of the unknown…
When we can’t predict the outcome we don’t know which decision is the best to take. This goes for both big, small, or major decisions. Overthinking at its finest…
In this day and age, we are also spoilt for choice. Our world has so many more possibilities and opportunities than it has before and this can make the decision-making process even trickier.
So how do we get past this feeling of uncertainty?
The first thing we need to recognize is that when we make a decision we are making it based on the knowledge available to us at that time. We cannot base our decision on what might happen because the outcome is not a reality right now. This is living in the future, not in the present, and we know that most of the time it does not pan out the way we intended anyways.
The best way to get past feeling indecisive is to let go of the “what if” notion. You have to let go of what you think you know and trust that what you already know is enough. We are all just doing the best we can at every given moment. When we can embrace the fact that we made a certain decision based on what was right for us at that specific time, decision-making becomes a lot simpler and less convoluted.
We start to trust the process and believe that what needs to be will be while embracing the present decision-making moment.
It could also be helpful to few types of decision as neutral. No decision is a good decision or a bad decision, there is no right or wrong decision – they are all just simple steps to the next unfolding moment. ‘Bad’ decisions could be connotated to ‘mistakes’ but often the best lessons come from making these ‘failed’ decisions – so then were they really bad decisions at the end of the day?
If we never made that decision and dealt with the consequences of things not working out we wouldn’t learn anything and we wouldn’t find any self-development or growth.
By making mistakes we equip ourselves with more contextual information to make more effective decisions with better outcomes next time around.
Decision-making is fundamentally a learning process and this journey of discovering can be elevated through meditation.
Mindfulness meditation and the decision-making process
Mindfulness is a simple skill that can be used by any person to hone their decision-making skills. It is widely used as a tool in business so that leaders can follow through with clearer business choices. This skill allows you to focus on the task at hand, without being distracted by other matters.
Mindfulness is an out-of-the-box thinking technique that can be applied to various aspects of life. When we talk in the context of a business, it helps leaders make better decisions by focusing on what matters most. It also makes them more effective managers and employees.
In terms of decision-making tools, the evidence is mounting to show that it can have a powerful, positive impact on the process, leading to both better decisions and faster implementation. This is why INSEAD started incorporating mindfulness training into their MBA programmes.
Natalia Karelaia, Associate Professor of Decision Sciences at INSEAD , this once esoteric idea is now becoming more generally accepted in the mainstream. Meditation and other mindfulness practices are being introduced in corporations worldwide (for example at Apple, Google, Nike, General Mills, Proctor & Gamble and more), and the trend is only expected to continue. Leaders who want to remain at the forefront of progressive ideas are wise to consider the value of mindfulness as a business tool. (intheknow.insead.edu)
Mindfulness is a useful tool for making decisions because it helps you stay aware of your thoughts, feelings, mental processes, and body sensations. This increased awareness leads to more creative solutions to problems and better ethical evaluations.
Mindfulness allows us to know what we do, why we do it, and how it affects others. We become aware of our thoughts, emotions, and behavior. This helps us understand ourselves better and be more effective leaders as our choices and decisions are full of intention and rationality.
So what is the best way to put mindfulness into practice – you guessed it… meditation!
Models for ethical decision making – Being decisive through meditation
How do we decide if something is right or wrong? What does it mean to be a leader? How do I know if my decisions are right or wrong? What should I do if I feel stuck in my decision-making process?
Decisions come down to purpose. This is the driving factor.
A purposeful existence leads to greater direction, a valued sense of self, and a more meaningful life. Knowing your purpose gets you ready to say yes or no to decisions, projects, or opportunities. You become mission-driven and this leads to success.
‘Purpose’ is the driving force behind our lives. We must always be reminded of why we exist. Our purpose should guide us in making every decision we make.
Meditation helps us discover our purpose by turning our awareness inwards through introspection. Meditating allows us to evaluate our thoughts and reorganize them towards uncovering our purpose. Through meditation, we get to the essence of who we really are and what matters most to us. It brings us into alignment with our deepest desires.
When we have a clear purpose to what we want to achieve making decisions becomes a lot easier because there is a plan of action. This purpose-led decision-making process can be accessed through meditation as it directs us into asking ourselves the big questions like:
What drives me?
What motivates me?
What choices have I made that has bettered my life?
In what environment do I best thrive?
Meditation helps to focus attention on what matters most and allows us to detach from our daily worries. This makes it easier for us to choose the right path at each moment as it immediately brings us into a present state of being rather than living in the future. We can also learn how to control our emotions better, which leads us to be less impulsive. It is necessary to practice mindfulness when working on decisions, and meditation techniques can help.
Dr. Hossein Arshom, The Wright Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Baltimore and Teaching Professor at the John Hopkins Carey Business School, writes about the significance of decision theories:
“Business decision-making is almost always accompanied by uncertainties. Clearly, the more knowledge the decision-maker has, the better the decision will be. Treating decisions as if they were gambles is the basic foundation of decision theory. This means that we have to tradeoff the value of a certain outcome against its probability.“
Making an informed decision based on decision theories that are led with purpose by disregarding what had happened in the past and what might be in the future is the best way to go about it.
Meditation helps us to think about our decisions from a calm perspective. Once we learn how to control the mind through mindfulness practice, we can use this skill for making better life choices. The additional benefits of meditation include reduced stress, increased focus, improved memory, greater compassion, better relationships, and enhanced creativity.
“Often, to make the best decision, you must lead with your purpose—and disregard something that has already happened or something that might happen in the future.“
Popular methods for skill of Decision making:
Pros and Cons Lists are great tools for making decisions, but they are also limited because they are based on facts. Facts carry different weights depending on your situation. In some cases, facts may even be irrelevant. Pros and cons lists can be helpful, but they do not give enough information to make a decision. They can often create more uncertainty and confusion.
“I’m going to make my own decisions based on what works for me. Sometimes, I’ll do something different than others. That doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”
This is a great way to view things! When making decisions we need to put our blinkers on towards others’ opinions and do what is right for us!
Meditation helps people focus less on the past and allows them to make better decisions at the moment.
Meditation helps people to be more compassionate. Bill Ford said he used meditation to help him when he was having a tough day. He said, “Taking 15 minutes to separate yourself from your office or the internet allows you the time and place to reconnect with your purpose”. When you are having a hard day, try to take some time out of your busy schedule to meditate. You’ll feel much calmer after doing this.
Rationality decision-making model
Although practicing mindfulness might lead to more intuitive ways of making decisions there are other decision-making models that have a slightly more analytical approach such as the rational model for decision making.
Being the opposite of intuitive decision making, the rational model of decision making is a model where individuals use facts and information, analysis, and a step-by-step procedure to come to a decision. The rational model of decision-making is a more advanced type of decision-making model.
Mindfulness Tools decision making – 6 steps in the decision-making process
1. The first step in meditation for decisiveness is to identify what you want to achieve from it. This means choosing the goal that would be most important for you to achieve and therefore the decisions that you need to take towards that goal might reveal themselves more clearly.
2. Choose a place where you can sit down comfortably for 10 minutes.
3. Next, close your eyes and think about your goals. Make sure that they’re specific, positive thoughts.
4. When you feel ready, start taking deep breaths and focus on your breath. Repeat this process until you reach total relaxation.
5. Afterward, imagine yourself achieving your goals.
6. Finally, write down your thoughts about how you can achieve them. The decision-making process will now be a whole lot easier because your mind not only feels calm and clear but your attention is directed towards something very specific. This allows us to funnel our thoughts and actions towards a specific decision but in a way that does not lead to overthinking.
Practicing meditation daily allows us to approach all our decisions mindfully and with specific intent – eventually, this becomes second nature towards rational thinking and decisiveness as meditation trains the part of our brains that govern critical thinking, information processing, and decisions while calming our nervous system down.
Meditation can therefore be seen as a training tool (much like you would go to the gym to build muscle) that builds your ‘ decision-making control center’ as it activates and strengthens our prefrontal cortex.
The main region involved in decision making is the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, that integrates sensory, mnesic and emotional information relevant to the task.
Other structures intervening in the various relevant processes in decision making are the amygdala (processing and encoding of the emotional signal and its association with contextual stimuli) and the cingulate cortex (process monitoring and response inhibition, especially in situations of uncertainty). The prefrontal dorsolateral cortex would also be involved through the necessary activation of the working memory in the decision making process, especially in the case of complex tasks.
All in all, meditation benefits us in so many different ways, and in times of need when we need to make decisions, it can be very effective in bringing clarity to our minds and ridding our brains of intrusive, uncertain, or ‘overthinking’ thoughts. Yet another reason why meditation is a habitual practice everybody can and should adopt!