Decision Making in Seven Steps

Decision Making 101

Are you in the middle of making an important decision?

Maybe it was brought on by the pandemic and now you need to decide:

  • Whether to add a new product or change an old one
  • Whether to go in a new direction
  • Whether to close a business or open a new one
  • Whether to hire someone to take over a part of your business 
  • Whether now is the time to retire from the business altogether

We all make decisions constantly everyday, but sometimes it takes a crisis to cause extreme focus and often along with it, extreme stress. 

Here’s what I’ve learned about decision making:

Not making a decision is actually the same as making a decision.  You are just fooling yourself. Eventually whatever the decision was, it is made in the negative.  Let’s say for instance, I want to start my own business.  I research. I contemplate.  I talk to friends.  But I never decide and so I never start the business.  My decision?  Not to become an entrepreneur.  Or lets say I want to change jobs.  I talk about it all the time.  I read about job openings and fantasize about what it would be like to have another job. But I never apply for another job. My decision? To stay in my current job even though I am miserable there.  Not deciding and following up on that decision is the same as deciding to stay right where I am.

Not making a decision drains your energy.  When you have a pending decision that you are in the process of making, you have energy that is expended in that effort.  No matter what stage you are in, whether you are waiting for something else to happen, or whether you have tabled the decision until you are in a better frame of mind or whether you are actively researching the facts–that unmade decision is draining your energy.  Your brain is constantly trying to answer the question, “What should I do?” As soon as you make the decision, no matter the outcome, you have released that energy for other things.

You always have a choice–even when you think you don’t.  Seth Godin writes that “I had no choice,” actually means “I had only one path that was easy in the moment.”  Even doing nothing  in a situation is a choice.  Think you can’t afford to change jobs, go to school or leave a relationship? There is always another way, it just may not be as easy as the path you are on now. It may take more effort, time, money, creativity or risk than what you are doing–but there is a choice.

Seven Steps to Making a Decision  

  1. State the problem.  This seems obvious but how often have you wrestled with something endlessly without clearly defining what the problem is? This should include the facts, the emotions involved, the positive and negative outcomes and the possibilities for growth. 
  2. Set a time table.  Make it reasonable.  Give yourself a few days or a few weeks depending on the circumstances but nail it down.  Going on for months and years without deciding is draining your energy.
  3. Research and get advice.  Use more than one source.  Get more than one opinion. Make sure you ask people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. Include some people who like status quo and others who are risk takers. You want to get the whole perspective. 
  4. List the alternatives.  Clearly identify your choices.  Remember you always have more than one.
  5. Choose the best choice. 
  6. Take imperfect action. A decision does not have to be perfect.  In fact, it probably won’t be.  Make it anyway.  Then take action, even imperfect action. Ask yourself, “What is the next step?” A decision is useless unless you act on it.
  7. Evaluate the results.  Instead of thinking of all decisions as life or death and a done deal, consider them research and development.  The more decisions you make, the better you become at it and the more resources you have to draw on for the next decision.

Need a good resource on decision making? Check out Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Decisive, How to make better choices in life and work.

Ready to make a change in your life? Need a coach to help you work through it?

Email me to set up a free coaching clarity call:

Let’s start making a new future together.

I was at a turning point in my business in deciding which direction to go.  I needed some focus and inspiration.  Fortunately I was connected with Lynne Watts and Dream Achiever Coaching.  Through a few individual coaching sessions and her informative videos I learned how to change my mindset about “selling” and promoting my business.  I also gained clarity on direction and uncovered a business model that would work best with my current phase of life.  I now have greater clarity to move forward and have already landed my first client of the year!  Lynne is positive, encouraging, and is great at helping you find the clarity and inspiration you need to move to the next level!  I highly recommend Lynne’s coaching packages!~Sandra Abdalian

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