One of the things I wanted to talk to you about in this post is, “how do you make a decision?”, specifically how do you make a good decision or a good business decision?
I’ve always found it very difficult to make decisions. I’ve read various books about it, and I’ve used various tools.
Someone has just thrown something at me that I totally wasn’t expecting to have to make a decision about, and it’s a very big decision indeed – and, I don’t know how to make it.
Looking back though, thinking through all the ways that you can choose to make decisions, I’ve got to say that making decisions became a lot easier when I started trusting my gut instinct. I’d never trusted it for years and years because I just didn’t imagine that I had the knowledge or the wisdom to make good decisions.
In business, you are making decisions all day long… which opportunities to pursue, what to say in an email or telephone call, whether to pay that bill this week or next week… whether to attend that networking meeting when your desk is piled high and your to-do list overflowing, whether to take on an outsourcer or member of staff when the cashflow can’t quite support it… the tiny decisions are endless – all day long!
What IS A Good Decision?
What does a good decision mean anyway? Does it mean you’re making the right decision, the best decision, the most sensible decision, the decision that most people would make?
What is a good decision?
When I started learning about coaching I realised that, actually, if you sit still for a minute and you think about the options, most of the time you are drawn to one decision or another; against one side, against the other.
But there have been times in my life when I’ve totally not known what decision to make. So what tends to happen then is that I avoid making a decision until such times as the internal tension of not making the decision gets so great that I tip over in a moment of weakness towards one way or another.
No Such Thing As A Bad Decision
There are some that say there is no such thing as a bad decision, that it’s better to make ANY decision than NO decision.
It’s true, especially in business, that it’s better to get things moving and then correct your course along the way, because you will have built up momentum and it’s easier to correct a course when there is momentum involved – anyone who has ever parked a car without power steering knows that’s true enough!
Should You Listen To Advice About Your Decision?
I’ve often tried talking to others – I’ve had various people in my life… I’ve got a coach, I’ve got a mentor, I’ve had a therapist, I’ve got sisters, I’ve got best friends, I’ve got lots of people to talk to. So it’s not like I’m short of someone to give me advice if I ask for it.
However, if you listen to too many people you might end up so totally confused! You must remember that, try to help as they might, those other people are not YOU, they are not in your situation, with your feelings, your choices; they will not have to live with any consequences if you make a decision that turns out to be “wrong” for you.
Decision Making Tools
There’s the “for and against” method, there’s drawing a line down a little bit of paper and writing the pros and cons, the “for and against.”
There’s grid matrix method where you make a list on the left-hand side of the various decisions you could make and then you draw columns, and in each column you write an element of the impact that decision will have, and then you weight that element depending on how important it is to you – you give it a score, if you like.
For example, one outcome of making the decision could be very important, so you give it a five out of five rating, another element of the process making the decision might make it a three out of five in importance, etc.
Then you go along and you score one decision and you go horizontally along, and you think, “Okay, if I make that decision, what impact will it have on that?” So you score each side of the decision, and that’s supposed to give you a sort of overall score for each one.
Often what happens when you use one of these… what they call logical left brain tools… is that you come to a decision based on the logical left brain tool, and then your intuition screams at you, “No, I want to do the other thing”! Is it just women that experience that, I wonder, or do men as well?
Choose Not To Make A Decision (Yet!)
The other way of making a decision is not to make a decision. My friend Andy, he’s very decisive most of the time, but he says if he really can’t make a decision he’ll just leave it and see what happens.
Often the reason you can’t make a decision is because you haven’t got all the information yet, and perhaps your subconscious knows that.
But what I find happens if you don’t make a decision is that you get tipped over, one way or another, by a circumstance, and that is not good.
I’ll give you an example. Back in the mists of time, I shared a house with my kids and a friend but then he decided that he had enough of living (as he called it) with “The Clampits” and instead, wanted to live on his own. So he moved out into his new luxury pad.
At that point, I really should have left my big five-bedroom house, two bathrooms, a huge garden. It was ridiculous. But I loved the location so much – the garden, the space – and I love the fact that I’ve been there for six years and feel very settled and secure there.
The Cost Of Delaying A Decision
But really I should have made the decision to leave, not the least because I would have saved myself something like £600 a month.
So six months down the line when I suddenly had to make the decision (so much for security!), I was forced by circumstances and it was an easy decision to make because I didn’t really have a decision at all. But it wasn’t the best decision to delay making that decision for six months.
The other cost of not making a decision is the opportunity cost.
If you are prevaricating, for example, about investing in a training course or tuition or mentoring for example, every day that goes past, you are NOT making the money you might have made if you had got that training, tuition or mentoring, for example.
To Recap On Your Decision-Making Choices
So, you’ve got your logical left brain tools, then you’ve got your right-hand intuition, gut-based instinct way of making a decision.
You’ve got the opportunity to not make the decision at all and see whether you gather more information or whether in fact circumstances push you over one way or the other (not recommended as it’s reactive rather than pro-active).
I’m a great reader, as you probably all know by now, and I’ve read every book on the planet from “how to make a good decision” I think that one was, through to “how to love a difficult man,” to “how to become a woman of substance.” This is before I even knew about the personal development industry, so I was searching for answers in books even as far back as 18 or 19 years old.
The other thing is you make decisions every day, you make decisions to give up smoking, to start taking more exercise, to not eat carbs, to never have a glass of wine again – I say that now because Sarah is just pouring me one!
The book Willpower says that the more decisions you have to make in a day the more your willpower gets eroded as we all only start out with a certain amount of Willpower every day.
But that’s another discussion, and my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!
So, I really think that as I don’t have the answers today, and it’s so personal, I’d really like to open the discussion out perhaps… Do you have a tried and tested way of making decisions that works for you? Do you have trouble making decisions? Let me know in the comments!