By Anne Bosarge, Director of Leadership Strategies and Local Church Resources
Do you have decision fatigue? If you’re exhausted after making decisions, procrastinating, impulsive, or indecisive, it may be because you’re experiencing decision fatigue. Psychologists have discovered a correlation between the quality of decisions and the number of decisions that must be made in a short period of time. The more decisions you are required to make, the lower the quality of your decisions.
Leaders stuck in a season of decision fatigue will make increasingly poorer and poorer quality decisions. Their focus shifts from long-term outcomes to short-term efficiency. They begin to do just what is needed to get by and sacrifice what is best but requires more investment, time, or resources.
How can you make higher quality decisions in a world that changes so fast? How can you prevent yourself from suffering decision burn-out? Use DECIDE, an approach to problem solving that adapts as conditions shift and keeps you focused on the end result, even as you make short-term adjustable plans. We often experience decision fatigue when the path we thought would take us to the destination falls short. When that happens, we are forced to make another decision about what to do next. When we place too much certainty in our plans, we find ourselves discouraged and exhausted when they fail. DECIDE helps you create flexible plans with a defined end result you can commit to.
Step 1 – Define the Problem
Accurately defining the problem is the most important part of the problem solving/decision making process! When we fail to clearly define the problem, we waste time, energy, and effort pursuing a solution that won’t solve the actual problem. Look for root causes and broken systems.
Step 2 – End Result
Start with the end in mind. What do you want to see happen in this situation? What is God’s purpose and goal? To end up in the right place, you must know where you are and where you want to be. The distance made between the problem and the end result is the gap you need to fill with the path you devise.
Step 3 – Current Reality
It’s time to get real. This is where we own 100 percent of the results for where we are – no blaming or justifying. How did we get here? Why did we get here? What got us off track? What are the facts of the current reality? What is the current reality of our problem?
Step 4 – Investigate
Get curious! Wonder about and wander around the problem! Take your time and don’t rush this step. Explore things you haven’t thought about before; be inventive and creative. Push past assumptions. When we operate by assumptions, we allow past experience to drive future possibilities. This keeps us trapped in a cycle of ineffective problem solving and decision fatigue.
Step 5 – Determine Your Path
“In light of my past experience, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?” (Andy Stanley in “Ask It.”) Determine the actions that will lead you step-by-step toward your desired end result. Create a timeline for implementation but don’t be married to the plan. Be committed to the destination and flexible in the implementation.
Step 6 – Execute and Evaluate
As you implement your plan, it’s important to monitor for signs of success.
Experiencing success? Learn from it! What went well? What did you learn? What was surprising? What could you improve for next time?
Not seeing strong signs of success? Are you making assumptions in your action steps? Do you have a realistic timeline?
Has something different happened since you created the plan? Are your expectations unrealistic? What can you adjust to get a better result?
Not seeing any signs of progress or resolution? There is probably an underlying root cause you did not discover or address in your first plan. Revisit the problem and redefine.
Adjust the path based on your new learnings and continue down the path toward your end result.
Ready to battle decision fatigue? DECIDE with the system that helps you evaluate and adjust the path while consistently staying committed to the end result. Instead of making a new decision with every failure or shift in circumstances, simply reevaluate and adjust the path leading to your end result.
Anne Bosarge serves as the Conference’s Director of Leadership Strategies and Local Church Resources. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.