The art of decision making – A must read for all UPSC aspirants

art of decision making

The art of decision making

We are all human beings. The human brain operates in a similar fashion. The difference lies only how we respond to different situations differently. Each time we take vital decisions in life, there is always a sense of anxiety (which is common for all human beings) because you cannot crystal ball gaze the future about the outcome of that decision. You will know whether the decision was right or wrong only after the event is over.

Some people would like to imagine the worst-case scenario with respect to the outcome that may emerge from their wrong decision or wrong choice of options. If the decision that you are about to take may cost you dearly, you need to start preparing to make it more affordable until it reaches the level where you find the risk worth taking i.e. you can bear the costs that you might incur if everything goes wrong.

We all feel scared. Each time you feel anxious over the fear that creeps upon your thoughts, articulate the fear in concrete terms. Most of the times, you would realise that the fear is not as big as you deemed it to be when you were ambiguous about it. You can further reduce the fear through better preparation, knowledge, hard work and clarity of objectives.

art of decision making

For a vital decision, you must have a contingency plan i.e. the fallback position. Because whatever you are pursuing, the situations would change and each change in a situation is itself a new situation that you would need to cope with. Coping up with that new situation is actually the new contingency plan. It can be both favourable and unfavourable.

Once you form a contingency plan to deal effectively with both favourable and unfavourable change in situations, the fear level turns very low and ultimately dissipates as you get prepared to pursue the objective with the idea that comes what may, you will deal with it.

Tough decisions are where the consequences are going to affect a large number of people for a long period of time. The risks are high because some of those wrong decisions may change the course of history.

How do you take these tough decisions?

First and foremost, you must have clarity of objectives. Take out all adjectives, adverbs and focus merely on the nouns and the verbs. Make it as small and as simple as possible. Don’t say that we are going to fight the terrorism, rather accept that we are going to neutralise ABC on this date i.e. following a specific course of action regarding which you have utmost clarity. Therefore, your objectives must be very well defined.

Secondly, you must do an objective analysis of your strengths, circumstances, limitations, available resources. possibilities that can happen. If you are afraid or filled with any other emotion, you would be unable to take an objective decision. If I am afraid, the security of my life becomes more important than my objectives. Take a decision only in a calm, composed and neutral state of mind.

Once the objectives are clear in your mind, see the available options through which you can achieve those objectives. In case of tough decisions, there would always be limited options but still, there would be options. Your knowledge and experience create those options and makes them affordable.

How do you select the best option? -Art of decision making

Each option has got a cost, a time and an opportunity within which it can be done. What suits you the best is the best option. It must be the most cost-effective and concrete option to reach your objective.

Many times people do not make a wrong decision but they take the wrong options. They misinterpret their failure by blaming their decision which in fact must be attributed to the wrong option that they undertook while moving forward to their decision. Many times, we fail to undertake an objective analysis of the available options, so we tend to opt for the wrong option.

After you have selected the option, start preparing for it. This is the most important step. Most of the times while attributing our failure to reach our objectives, we label our decisions as wrong. We fail to recognise that the decision might have been alright but we failed to work towards fructifying that decision with utmost commitment.

In life, it is very important to make the right decisions, but there is something even more important than this i.e. making your decisions right. Once you have taken the decision, do everything at your disposal to make it right. For instance, most often we feel that the secret for a happy married life lies in selecting the right spouse for ourselves. Probably it is true, but more of it lies in making the marriage right. Therefore, taking the right decision is less important than making the decision right. After you have taken a decision, it is your bravery, commitment, foresightedness, tolerance and confidence in yourself regarding that decision must prevail over all other considerations. Even if you take a slightly wrong decision, you would be able to take it to the logical conclusion by making the decision right. Concentrate more on the actions than keeping on changing the decision itself.

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