The Art of Decision-Making
(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)
I’m fairly certain that today’s topic sparked an interest in more than a few of you. “Analysis to paralysis”. Can you relate?
When it comes to building, remodeling or furnishing a home, there are a variety of reasons why people find it difficult to make decisions. These decisions are long-lasting, consequential and costly. So, there’s no wonder why some people freeze. They’re afraid to make a mistake. Sometimes, they know what they like and sometimes they don’t. In my experience working with clients, it doesn’t seem to matter.
Some homeowners like to see as many options as possible before making a decision. Depending on that quantity, they may become overwhelmed or confused. Such mental stimulation complicates decisions, kills motivation and creativity, and causes anxiety. The time and energy in over-analyzing an overabundant number of items can delay a project’s progress. This can be costly if it involves a construction crew.
I’ve listed a few things to keep in mind that will make your decision-making easier.
1. Set a deadline for each decision. Don’t let the fact that you might have found a better option after you’ve made your decision stop you. Chances are, you might have found something better at some point. But that doesn’t mean you should run around in circles looking for it or waiting for it.
2. Limit the amount of information you consume. While Pinterest, Houzz and Instagram may be good sources of inspiration, they may only lead to confusion. Keep in mind that some of these images are not well-designed and not a good idea to follow anyway.
3. Eliminate bad options. Removing mental clutter will help you stay focused and moving forward.
4. If many options work, pick one and move on.
5. Don’t overly-focus on a single item. Even if you choose the perfect one, it does not guarantee that the overall outcome will also be perfect because of that single choice.
6. Don’t assume that if you make a sub-optimal choice that the overall outcome will also be sub-optimal.
7. Regarding these last two suggestions, you do need to know what makes or breaks a design.
8. Avoid getting opinions from too many people especially if they are not experts.
9. Re-read this last suggestion.
10. If you work with a designer you trust, then let go and take comfort in your trust. Second-guessing or asking for outside approval complicates the process. Speaking from experience, it is difficult for a designer to stay focused (as well as interested and motivated) and produce a cohesive space when there are such interruptions, detours and derailments.
11. If you work with a designer, do not allow contractors or third-parties to sway your decisions. They don’t understand the total vision – which may then be sabotaged or compromised.
12. Determine how important each decision is and spend the suitable amount of time making it. As an example, last week I had to select hinges for the doors to commercial bathroom stalls. It was a quick decision compared to the time I spent looking for the faucets and sinks.
13. If you’re unsure of a decision you’ve made, live with it for a day and see how you feel. If it’s no longer on your mind, it’s a good decision. If you’re still stressing about it, review and come to a final decision - within the time-framed you’ve allowed.
14. Forget about past bad decisions.
Decisions are steps that lead you to the end goal. Digging deeper and thinking harder does not mean that you’ll come to the best decision. The choice in front of you may be just the right one.