Decision Making: How To Be A Ninja At It

Decision Making: How To Be A Ninja At It
Carly Jacobs

I have a friend who finds decision making really difficult. We’ll go out for lunch and she’ll spend a good 20 minutes perusing the menu, while I fuck around on my phone because I made my decision before we even walked in the door.

decision making

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

Her decision anxiety doesn’t stop there though. After she’s ordered, she frets about whether or not she ordered the right thing. She only wants haloumi if it’s cooked the right way. Did that salad come with kimchi? She’s not sure if she likes kimchi. Maybe she’ll just go to the counter and see if she can change her order. She’s the same with clothes. Should she buy those shoes? She has a similar pair at home. Are they different enough to justify the purchase? She’ll try them on another twenty times and then won’t end up buying them.

It’s exhausting. The funny thing is that sometimes out of sheer frustration, I’ll just make the decision for her and she loves it. I’ll just tell her I’m coming over with takeaway and wine and she doesn’t give a shit what I bring. She’s just pleased she doesn’t have to contribute to the decision making. This proves that the outcome is not the issue, it’s the responsibility of the decision.

decision making

Photo by Jan Phoenix on Unsplash

I’m quite a decisive person. I’m not into food so I just pick the healthiest thing on the menu. I like most movies so I’m happy seeing whatever. I prefer red wine but if I’m surrounded by white wine drinkers, that’s totally fine, let’s get a bottle of sav blanc. This didn’t happen naturally, I trained myself over the years to not care about little things and just get on with it. I have a bit of high functioning anxiety so I need to stay on top of this mind set so I don’t end up freaking out over a teeny tiny things that really don’t matter. Here are a few things I do to make decision making a bit easier.

1. Spend your decision allowance on things that matter 

Lunch doesn’t matter. What you wear to that wedding doesn’t matter. Thailand and Bali are both lovely so pick a place and book the plane ticket. Save your decision making energy for things that DO matter. It does matter who you marry. It does matter where you buy a house and who you buy it with. If you’re wasting all that energy trying to decide between a taxi and an Uber, when you have to choose between two major job offers, you’ll be too fatigued to give that (much more important) decision the focus it deserves.

I know some foodies will throw their baguettes in the air and scream ‘But food is life! We MUST enjoy it!’ and I totally agree. I love watching foodies enjoy food but you know what? If you order an average lunch today, it’s not the end of the world because you get to have lunch again tomorrow and you can order something else. How ace is that?

2. Don’t let your desires get in the way 

A lot of decision making is stalled by people letting their desires get in the way. ‘Should I go to the gym or the pub?’. ‘Should I get a big dirty pizza or roast vegetable salad for dinner?’

Life is about pleasure and we should definitely enjoy our time when possible but if we allow desire to shape all our decisions we’ll end up consistently doing silly things. For example many years ago I was offered two writing gigs at the same time. One was for a massive (at the time) fashion site and the other was for REA was better pay, more consistent, more efficient people to work with and the briefs were subjects that I knew quite a lot about. I almost chose the fashion job but I broke down the pros and cons and went with REA. That fashion site closed down shortly after, leaving many freelancers without jobs and five years later I’m still working for If I’m honest with myself, I only wanted the fashion job because it sounded cooler and it would have been more fun for my mum to brag to her friends that I’m a fashion writer rather than a realestate writer. I was letting my ego get in the way of making a good decision.

If you’re struggling to make a decision, just check in with yourself and see if it’s your desires railroading you that’s the problem. Sometimes the answer really is that simple.

decision making

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

3. Make decisions quickly 

At least the little ones and even more especially the decisions you have to make every day like what to eat and what to wear. These decisions do not and should not take up half the morning. Routines can help if you struggle to get through the morning decision making process. Remove decisions altogether or concentrate on making decisions quickly.

This week on Straight & Curly, Kelly and I are talking about decision making and how to get awesome at it.

How are you at decision making? Do you just slam it? Or do you worry a lot about making mistakes?

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  1. Hailey 12 months ago

    Yep, I try not to sweat the small stuff and save the brain power for the big decisions too. I think it is a decision not to mind, though, and once you’ve made it, it frees up a lot of mental (and sometimes emotional) space.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 12 months ago

      It so does. I’m feeling crazy relieved now I have my coffee down. Almond milk flat white. Bang.

  2. Kelly 12 months ago

    I must admit, I used to be quite good at making a decision but have found in trying to be more mindful in my purchase of things (I have a serious tendency to buy ALL the things), I am less so and it uses so much brain power. I am getting better and realising I don’t need or even want all the things is quite freeing in itself!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 12 months ago

      Oh totally – If I’m waiting in line and the line takes too long, I’m out of there. Decision made. Not buying the thing.

  3. I’d say I make many decisions quickly, both small and big decisions. For example, I walked into a car dealership last December and ended up buying a used car within the hour. If someone had told me the day before I’d buy a car the next day I’d have laughed. And all my research about the car I bought (which wasn’t even on my radar) was done on my iPhone while the salesman and manager were in another room butting heads trying to decide what to charge me. Some things are meant to be and you just can’t spend too much time thinking about it.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 12 months ago

      That’s so brave! I wouldn’t be able to make decision on a car that quickly!

  4. Missy D 12 months ago

    I’m a fairly quick decision maker, I will mull over big decisions for a small time, but then just decide. My partner is a massive over-thinker, and I’m just like, ‘JUST DECIDE.’

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 12 months ago

      Oh my god ME TOO! My partner isn’t too bad but sometimes we’ll be at a cafe and he’ll be umming and ahing about where to sit and I like ‘Just sit down!’.

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