How do you decide? 5 Steps to get you from indecision to decision

How do you decide? 5 Steps to get you from indecision to decisionI wish I had a penny for every time I heard someone say:

“I’ll try.”

“I’m thinking about it.”

“It’s on my to-do list.”

“I’ve tried so many times before…”

You see, action follows effectively only after you DECIDE to do something.

What is a Decision?

It’s not about “do it” or “don’t do it.”

A decision is a choice between alternatives. If you have only one alternative, it’s not a decision.

One of the reasons people get stuck, repeat errors or feel they “can’t get ahead” is because they see an issue as a “do” or “don’t do”, rather than a process of selecting from options.

Here are 5 steps you can follow to become better at decision-making:

1. Identify the problem or issue.

Example: Do I attend an upcoming tradeshow as a participant, knowing that it will cost quite a bit of money and take me away from my business for 3 days?

2. List alternatives.

Examples: watch sessions online/ go for a portion of time/ get someone I know to report back to me/ send an employee/ register for a contest to see if I can win a ticket to attend/ not attend

3. Select the alternative that best matches your goal(s)/objective(s)

This is where you need to know the “why”, because if you don’t know the “why” the “how” doesn’t matter.

WHY would you attend the tradeshow?

For what significant, beneficial purpose?

How would the experience make you and your business different and better than before you attended?

4. DO IT. Take action on the decision.

5. Close the loop.

Once you’ve attended the tradeshow, take time to identify if the goal(s)/ojective(s) were met. How did your attendance at the eventย  improve and enrich your business and your life? What did you learn that you will implement?

Are you the type who will reach a fork in the road and not know which one you’ll take? Will you simply stand and ponder…wait for someone to tell you which one to take…or forge ahead taking the one less travelled or the one more frequented?

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and Iโ€”

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Will you sigh when you’ve made the decision, thinking it was the other alternative that was the better choice? Or will you stand behind your decision with conviction, adjust as the path requires, change direction as sensibilities would suggest, but commit fully to the DO?

What tips can you share about effective decision-making?


  • Lori Gosselin

    Hi Kaarina! I love that poem! It feels like a crisp cool autumn morning. I particularly love “Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.”

    I tried your steps with a place in my life where I feel particularly stuck these days and it helped me to have clarity. Seems your blog post provided an answer while three I’ve visited previously this morning helped me to identify the problem Life never stops amazing one, does it?
    Great steps. Thanks!

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      There are no coincidences;) The synchronicity of the world is much like the old saw: “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Happy to provide a sliver of light and clarity to your day. Cheers! Kaarina

  • Josh

    The best decisions I remember are usually the ones where I took action. Sometimes it meant choosing not to do something, but most of the time it meant walking through a door.

    Fear of what could happen and the unknown are challenging and they can make you crazy. I haven’t always been good about making some of those choices but life experience has taught me I feel better when I do.

    So I suppose it is fair to say I work on identifying what makes me nervous and what would help alleviate some of the tension.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      “The enemy known is better than the enemy unknown” is something that often keeps people from moving ahead. The unknown is indeed challenging, but the road less travelled can be so invigorating! And I always say: “when opportunity knocks, for heaven sake, answer the door”. Keep walking through those doors…even when they don’t appear to be open:) Cheers! Kaarina

  • Mark Harai

    I tend to make decisions quickly. There’s no time like the present to make a decision and take action.

    There’s nothing to be afraid of… you’ve been given the tools to accomplish the mission. The ones you don’t have, you’ll pick up along the way ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    The only people building successful lives are those who are making decisions and taking action everyday to accomplish their goals.

    The rest are in la la land and won’t realize it until life has simply passed them by.

    So nice to be inspired by you today, Kaarina – thank you!

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      It’s always a pleasure to see you here Mark:) We are birds of a feather on the taking-action front. I, too, quickly consider options, make a decision and go for it! If it’s not working well, I adjust, re-group or go to plan B. Cheers! Kaarina

    • Brian D. Meeks

      “There is nothing to be afraid of…” is so very true and yet I tend to fret over mountains built of mole hills. I can remember countless times where I avoided doing something, out of a perception of it being unpleasant, only to find it wasn’t.

      • Kaarina Dillabough

        There’s a saying that goes “We worry over 90% of the time over things that happen less than 10% of the time.” My numbers are probably wrong there, but you get my gist:) And the Swedish proverb: “Worry casts long shadows of small things.”

  • Ralph Dopping

    I have these same thoughts about blogging at times.

    You ask what tips I can share. Well, I make decisions quickly and don’t over think things. Analysis breeds paralysis but coupled with that is a healthy dose of “how it went” afterwards to evaluate the benefits or detriments. I learn from those moments and move on. Hopefully I have gained enough knowledge to make more informed decisions as I work my way through life.

    We will see.

    Thanks for the poem. Nice touch. :-)

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      It’s one of my favourite poems Ralph. And you, Mark and I seem to be on the same wavelength as to making decisions quickly. I don’t like to over think things. I think. Consider options. Decide. Do. Monitor and evaluate. Rinse and repeat. Cheers! Kaarina

  • Bill Dorman

    Sometimes it is too easy to do nothing at all…..your matrix process w/ choices would certainly help.

    Thanks for carpet bombing my place in my absence; I think I’m running out of gas……….

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      We’ve got some interesting things happening with the concept of #TeamBlogJack, so carpet bombing is fun:) About that running out of gas…we’ll talk;) Cheers! Kaarina

  • Vidya Sury

    One of my favorite poems!

    I grew up believing actions speak. Whether they’re louder than words is secondary. I decide quickly, too – but am flexible along the way to make changes, because my final goal is all-round harmony and that holy grail of making everyone happy. I actually succeed sometimes. :-)

    Thinking of trying, procrastinating, wondering whether things will work out – are all signs of stagnation. Although, I am guilty of procrastinating sometimes. Funny thing is, it always leads to a good outcome, so it is usually some gut feeling that holds me back and not a lack of willingness to take action.

    I may be the way I am because I’ve been a caretaker of sick people on and off and always had to make spot decisions. I learned to keep a clear head.

    I’ve found that most people feel more comfortable being lazy. Inaction seems easier. Worse still, they’ll make fun of those who step up and “do”. And God forbid that things shouldn’t work out – these people will laugh and talk about what they “thought of” and the things that “should have”. They’re afraid of owning up when things don’t turn out how they expect. It is better to either do, or not do. It is that in-between stuff that’s annoying

    Great post. ๐Ÿ˜€ Loved it. Hugs!

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Your comment is the seed of an amazing blog post Vidya: Such great concepts, spoken with wise words. Inaction is always easier than action, and there’s always someone who will tell you how they would have done it betterfasterlongerstronger., haha!

      It puts me in mind of the Little Red Hen story. Are you familiar with it? When the little red hen asks others if they’ll help to plant the wheat, water the seeds, harvest the wheat, grind into flour, bake the bread and they all say no UNTIL it’s time to eat, it reminds me of all those who are willing spectators until such time as there is benefit for them. (and often they’ll also tell you how they could have done it better….sheesh) Cheers! Kaarina

      • Vidya Sury

        ๐Ÿ˜€ I hope you’ll write that post, Kaarina! Yes, I know that story. In fact, my Grandma used to tell us different versions of it. So much so – over the years, all she had to do was say “once there was…” and we’d spring to action. Not that we were lazy in the real sense of the word… but those were the days when we used to be up at 5 am and someone who woke up at 6 was considered lazy :D. Hugs. Your posts always provoke thought and action.

        • Kaarina Dillabough

          Well, if I provoke thought and action, I’m living my mission:) Doing the happy dance!

    • Brian D. Meeks

      The people who mock those that do, really get under my skin. I’ve been known to delay, make excuses, and find meaningless task to avoid getting done what needs to be done, but I’m also able to get my act together, when needed.

      The last month or so, I’ve found that making lists and getting them crossed off has been both productive and rewarding. I can’t say I won’t have days of lazy, again, but for now I’m on a roll.

      Great post and really good comment, too.

      • Kaarina Dillabough

        Thanks Brian: I’m really enjoying your writing, and I hope that your posts arrive in my email inbox soon:) Cheers! Kaarina

      • Vidya Sury

        :-) Brian, you’re so wise. I love your comments! I am a crazy list-fan too. I even note things like “cut nails” “refill soap” just so I can have more check-offs and feel motivated. Hugs!

  • Tim Bonner

    Hmmm, I have to admit I’m a bit of a ponderer, decision-making’s not my strong point unfortunately.

    I’ll certainly read over your tips a few times and see if I can make decision-making easier!

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Do you find that, after pondering, you are able to make a decision? We all come to our decisions in different ways. What’s important is to make that decision and take action. There’s an old saw that goes something like: If you sit, sit. If you stand, stand. But for heaven sake, don’t wobble:) Wobbling keeps us in a state of coulda’ woulda’ shoulda’ and actually can cause more stress than making that decision…even a wrong one.

      I say: DECIDE today that your decision-making will be easier…and it will. Cheers! Kaarina

      • Tim Bonner

        I do always come to a decision but maybe not as quick as some people.

        The one thing I also find myself doing sometimes is once I’ve made the decision, I wonder whether another option might have been better.

        It does always work out in the end but you’re right I’ve decided today decision-making will be easier.

        • Kaarina Dillabough

          Yay! And another little tip…banish the mind chatter that questions whether or not you made the “right” decision, or whether another option might have been better. If you practice that, you’ll find you’ll be questioning yourself less, making decisions with more conviction, and finding the decision-making process easier and more productive. Decide2do, then do…don’t question it. Adjust as you go. The grass is not greener:)

  • Barbara Klein

    Charging ahead or pondering? I used to be of the first category based on a good idea and some pros and cons, the years have me taught me – what? wisdom? experience? stamina – some patience but the curiosity is still here and may it stay this way. Otherwise I might never have started blogging or producing my food goodies.

    Lovely poem and what a nice present to us all. And I have noticed how my breathing changed and became deeper and longer while reading it. Thanks, ma reine du printemps on the verge of winter!

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      My pleasure, Barbara. When we truly experience the moment, turn the volume down on the mind chatter and experience that moment fully, our ability to make decisions is enhanced. Isn’t that why we say our best solutions come when we’re not pushing to find them? Allow the options and alternatives to surface, decide, do. Cheers! Reine du printemps

  • Susan Silver

    Once you make a decision, for better or worse believe that you made the best of what was available to you at the time. It is like that with most things in life. Sometimes it is better to wait, but other times we need to just take a leap of faith. The best thing we can do is have confidence that all will be well in the end.

    There is a lyric that reminds me of this,

    And it looks like we’ve made it once again.
    Yes, it looks like we’ve made it to the end

    “Circle Sky” by the Monkees (Love those guys)

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      I like your statement, “…have confidence that all will be well in the end.” When we begin with the end in mind…have a clear picture of our goal and its intended outcome, we can forge forward with confidence, and adjust to any challenges along the way. And ditto that on the Monkees:) [BTW, which one was your favourite Monkee? Mine was Micky Dolenz) Cheers! Kaarina

      • Susan Silver

        It was Mike Nesmith for me.Something about that hat drew me to him the first time I watched an episode.

        I wrote about the Monkees in a post for 12most and actually ended up having a conversation with one of the writers. It is the highlight of my career so far.

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