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We live in a world where people expect decisions to be made quickly—and to some extent, that’s a positive thing. It’s important for leaders to be decisive, to spend some time reviewing facts and data but ultimately to arrive at a concrete conclusion.

But I also think there’s a case to be made that some leaders make their decisions a little too rapidly—and that there is merit to slowing things down and letting your decisions marinate for longer stretches of time.

I’m not advocating for you to drag your feet or delay tough decisions past the point of reason. What I’m suggesting is a systematic and intentional approach to big choices.

Slowing Down for Hard Decisions

In particular, I’d recommend these steps.

  1. Take the time to gather all the available data, and to think through the implications of that data. Arm yourself with facts, which can help you feel more confident and less stressed in your decision making. Consider all the possible contingencies that those facts suggest. And if you think you already have all the facts, think again; pause to really reflect on whether there’s more data-digging you could do.
  2. Give yourself some time—even if it’s just a few hours. You may not always have this luxury, but if you can sleep on it before deciding, that’s really ideal. There’s something to the idea that our brains continue to mull over big problems while we sleep. Giving yourself that time, and coming at your decision with a little perspective, can be invaluable.
  3. Once you’ve analyzed the facts and taken some time to think, it’s important to actually make the decision. Don’t be too soft or wishy-washy; once you do your due diligence, it’s important to make the call and stick by it.
  4. But wait—the process isn’t over yet. Once you make your decision, it’s important to follow it up with an action plan. What are the next steps, as dictated by your decision? Where do you go from here?

This is obviously a very rough paradigm, but I hope it will be useful to you as you allow yourself just a little more wiggle-room to make tough decisions.