Decision Making 101 – How to make those tough decisions and feel good about it

Have you ever had a decision to make in your business and found yourself second-guessing both outcomes? Should you do it, what if you don’t do it, what are the consequences, how can I justify it… Decision making can sometimes be paralyzing. In the case of business it can be devastating to your bottom line if it does not get done in a timely manner or not at all.

Tips for Making Great Decisions

If you have been spending time thinking about what you should do about a single issue for more than a day or two then you are in “Decision Distress”. Decision distress is the effect of second-guessing your ability to choose the right course. As a business owner you are a leader, expected to be the one to create the path that everyone can follow. That responsibility can add to your guilt about making the decision.

Here are some tips for making great decisions you can live with.

Get an Opinion

Woman mentoring manIf you have been waffling back and forth with your decision then take your challenge to a mentor, mastermind partner, or coach. I do not recommend a family member or spouse. You want someone that has no “buy-in” for the outcome. This neutral perspective will help you view your choices objectively and may result in some additional ideas or strategies to make it work or to let it go.

  • I always start by asking permission to get their opinion on an issue I’m having. No one wants to sit down for a coffee and realize they have been drafted to fix your problems. Ask it in a way that allows them to easily say no if they need to. You will have much better discussions with people that want to help you then you will with those that feel they have to do it.
  • Be willing to accept whatever answer they give you back. If you spend all your time saying things like, “I’ve tried that, I know that, Ya – but…” they will stop giving you suggestions. Accept everything as a gift and you may find little nuggets of gold in a conversation you were sure you have heard before. In my experience I always come away with a different perspective that gives me ideas I had not come up with myself.

Make a Pro | Con List

Pad of Paper & PenSometimes when we have a lot to consider in our decision we move from one thought to the next, and on to another, back to the second, then on to a forth, and so on until we come around to the first thought again. It helps to make your thoughts and ideas into real concepts by putting them down on paper.

  • Start by listing you reasons for doing the thing you are trying to decide on. List all the business and personal reasons that make it a valuable course of action. This should include things like financial, time, emotional, logistics, competence or ability,  future value, ROI, family interruptions, etc.
  • Then list the reasons you don’t want to do it. What is the downfall to your business or your personal life for making this decision?
  • You can assign values to your answers – positive outcomes get a higher value and negative outcomes get a lower value (like -3, 0, +3 OR a scale from 0 to 10). Add up the list value and see how your decision weighs.

I use this value as a litmus test to help me make my decisions. Sometimes it makes it very clear that I am wishing something should happen instead of basing it on real measurable outcomes.

Envision your choices

Man envisioning his futureFor this exercise it is hard to read this and follow the instructions at the same time, so I suggest you read it through then give it a try.

  • Sit somewhere comfortable where you will not be disturbed. I do this when the house is empty, that way I can relax and focus without being interrupted.
  • Close your eyes and sit comfortably.
  • Choose one of the decision options to work with first.
  • Start by visualizing yourself in the future after making the decision.
  • How do you feel if everything you thought about or listed above came true (the good and the bad)?
  • How can you work with the outcome?
  • Now relax and let the vision go. Maybe open your eyes to change your thoughts and then start over.
  • Go back to the beginning and visualize another choice and outcome.
  • When you have viewed all choices of this decision, check in with yourself. Which future felt best? Which future was easiest to live in and most profitable or had the best outcome?

Some decisions require research and commitment or contracts from others. You may have to do a lot of number crunching, investigation, view and reviewing products, people or places. Once you have all the information you need to make the decision, these three tips can help you prioritize the outcomes to match your needs and wants.

Now Decide!

Tell us about your most difficult decisions in business. What was the deciding factor and how did you come to your decision (or did you)?

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