Career Advice

5 Ways Smart Decision Making Impacts Your Professional Growth

When you’re looking to advance in your career and grow professionally, you have to know how to make decisions quickly and effectively. Smart decision making can have a dramatic impact on your ability to succeed. Understanding the ways that it will affect you will make it easier for you to prioritize this aspect of your career development.

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#1: Get Closer to Your Goals

Once you set goals, you have to work toward achieving them. Each decision that you make should help to get you closer to them. Even the most trivial everyday decisions will have an impact.

Make good decisions, get closer to your goals. Make bad decisions, move further from them.

Goals have to be measurable. Otherwise, they’re not really goals – and you’ll be constantly dealing with moving targets.

SMART goals allow you to assess whether they’re actually goals. It also makes it easier for you to make decisions based on whether they will help you.

SMART is an acronym. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based.

When you carefully plan out your goals, you make sure that they are all of those things. As such, smart goals lead to smart decision making. It ensures that you maintain relevance without steering off course.

#2: Influence Those Around You

The decisions you make are going to impact those around you. Even if you’re not the final say, your decisions may affect those who work below and above you.

After you’ve made a decision, it may influence how others will make similar decisions. You’ll want to encourage people to adopt similar smart decision-making strategies. Especially when you’re all working toward a common goal, a similar stance on issues is critical.

You’ll want to know how to influence others directly and indirectly. It will allow you to play a more prominent role in the decision-making process.

Once you figure out how to convince others to make decisions in the direction you want, it allows you to maintain a more powerful position.

Influence can make you into a strong leader. Tony Robbins discusses the qualities that great leaders possess and the ways to achieve authenticity. You have to lead by example, which means that you have to make decisions based on how others should do the same.

Remember, you cannot expect anyone to do something that you, yourself, would not do. People will watch the decisions you make and act accordingly.

Related Article: How to Increase Your Influence at Work and Manage Up

#3: Establish Confidence

The most confident people are the most successful. No one wants to follow someone who can’t decide on various things.

You need to be confident in your ability to make decisions. Smart decision making involves thought as well as confidence.

It’s important not to confuse confidence with arrogance, too. Be humble but be wise.

When fear and self-doubt cripple you, it leads to indecision. It can lead you to make decisions in haste – decisions that you are accountable for.

Boost your confidence. The Confidence Gap is a guide to overcoming fear and self-doubt by Russ Harris. As a therapist and speaker, Harris can show you how to get out of the psychological struggle involved with decision making.

It all comes down to exhibiting confidence when you make a decision. This is done by:

  • Not making assumptions
  • Using your intuition
  • Releasing your personal objective
  • Remaining objective
  • Taking responsibility for the outcome

It’s easier said than done. However, with practice, you can gain confidence and make smarter decisions throughout every aspect of your life.

#4: Navigate Terrible Situations

Not all decisions are easy. Smart decision-making skills make it easier to navigate terrible situations. Emotions may be heightened. Being sensible and level-headed will help you to maintain control of the situation.

When you’re able to make smarter decisions, you can navigate out of the terrible situation faster. Move forward and focus on achieving a more optimal situation.

There are always ways to improve, to learn, and to get out of bad situations. Often, it involves creativity and the ability to explore the alternatives. You’ll have to consider risk tolerance, too.

By making smarter decisions, you can decide what the trade-off is worth, especially if it helps you to get out of a terrible situation – and on your way to a better one.

#5: Take Advantage of Time-Sensitive Opportunities

Smart decision making is often time sensitive. If you wait too long, you start to run out of options.

This is the case in many situations. You wait too long to hire someone and another company will offer them a job. You wait too long to book travel accommodations and the hotel is booked.

Using a daily planner can help to keep you updated on what you have going on in your life. You can remind yourself that certain decisions have an expiry date.

Highlight when a decision has to be made. It ensures that you don’t miss a deadline. It also gives you an understanding of how much time you have to work through your decision-making process.

How to Improve the Decision-Making Process

It’s important that you seek out the best ways to improve the decision-making process. Indecision can make you appear weak. The longer you take to make a decision, the more it can worsen a situation.

You don’t have the luxury of learning from bad mistakes. Your goal should be to make smart choices more regularly. It will ensure you grow at a more acceptable rate, allowing you to achieve greatness.

The Art of Decision Making can offer you an insider’s look at how a business coach can help you make faster and smarter decisions. This book by Joseph Bikart is just a start.

Fine-tuning the smart decision-making process is ongoing. There are a few tips to assist you as you’re confronted with decisions of every level of importance.

Seek Out Diverging Opinions

Making decisions is all about knowing which decision is best. You cannot possibly say that your decision is the right one without considering all sides.

Make a point to seek out diverging opinions. Ask around. Take a poll. Talk to others who have had to make similar decisions in their lives.

As you talk to people of differing opinions, you can establish the polar opposites. Most decisions are not simply yes/no. There are varying degrees that have to be made – and the opinions will fall across the spectrum.

Once you know where the opinions lie of those who will be directly impacted by your decision, you can make one that will have a positive impact.

Should you choose to go against the majority, there may be some pushback. This has to be a consideration – and one that you prepare for if you make a decision that goes against a lot of people.

Smart decisions may go against the majority from time to time. However, you have to be ready to back your decision up quickly. Prove why it was the best decision so that people will continue to follow you.

Avoid Pros and Cons Lists

While a pros and cons list is one of the easiest ways to make a decision, it is often tainted in your favor. You’ll write the list based on what you want instead of what’s the smartest option.

Such a list won’t account for the magnitude of the decision or the probability of something happening.

If you really like making lists, make sure that it’s fair. Focus on:

  • Measuring the gravity of your consequences
  • Do some research
  • Make an educated guess about the probability of the outcome

It’s also a good idea to rely on statistics. One study conducted by Laurence Goasduff showed that by 2023, over a third of large organizations will be using analysts to make decisions. This includes using decision intelligence and decision modeling.

Use Negativity to Prepare

Everyone likes to say to be positive. Positivity can be a bad idea when you’re making decisions.

Imagine making a decision where you assume everything will work itself out. Not everything works itself out. The reality is that some decisions are bad.

By being negative, you have a chance to prepare. You can assume the worst-case scenarios.

List the reasons why you could fail after making a particular decision. Is there anything that could be done to reduce the probability of those things happening?

Smart Decisions Are Controllable

The reality is that there are plenty of ways that smarter decision making can impact your professional growth. It’s up to you to take charge and ensure that your decision-making process is flawless.

When you can make decisions more confidently, it can allow you to gain influence over those around you. You’ll find that you’ll make better decisions (and faster) so that you don’t spend too much time and energy cleaning up your messes.

You’ll be able to achieve a greater success story when you can make calculated decisions that you can justify and stand behind. It takes time, it takes practice, but anything worth doing is worth doing well.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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