In life and in business, our current position is determined by millions of little decisions we make in the moments leading up to it. Some decisions have a clear influence like the decision to hire a new staff member or the decision to purchase a new property.
However, every decision has some element of influence on your life’s trajectory. For example, deciding to go to bed an hour later than usual may make you sleep in slightly later the next day, which puts you behind schedule, which means you hit the freeway later, which means you arrive to work later, which causes stress, which will influence the quality of your work for the day. Every decision has a knock-on effect.
So it is highly important that you have control over the quality of your decisions. If you know how to make better decisions, you will know how to make a better life. Here are five ways to make better decisions in your business and personal life:
1. Decide what you really want
Is the first tip on making better decisions really to make a decision?
Yes, it is.
However, it isn’t as simple as it may look at first glance. Deciding on what you really want means looking deeper than the specific decision you are trying to make in the moment. This tip is more about defining your values as a person or as a business. Often the specific stresses of the moment can distract you from what you are really after in the long run.
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Why did I get into this business?
- What drives me?
- What is most important to me?
The answers to these types of questions act as a filter for your decisions. When you are caught in a position where you don’t know which decision is the right one, you have a litmus test for the right direction. For example, if a personal connection with your children is the most important thing for you, then when you are put in a situation that might compromise that personal time, you are able to be confident on what you need to do.
Looking deeper into this aspect of your life will mean that you will rarely ever make the ‘wrong’ decision, because you will always choose what is right for you.
2. Feel the pain
Knowing the right decision isn’t always enough. Just because you know which direction to travel, doesn’t mean that you have already arrived. You need to create some momentum for yourself in order to push you to move forward with your decision.
For a lot of people, no momentum is the pain of indecision.
Picture what it would feel like if you didn’t make the decision and really feel it.
This is about going further than just thinking, it’s about picturing the pain of never growing. Ask yourself how it will feel in 5 years if you don’t make the decision? How about 10 years? 15? What will it do to your self-esteem if you refused to grow out of fear or apathy? How will it feel to not reach your full potential? What opportunities could you potentially miss out on if you don’t make the decision? How will you feel in 5 years about missing those opportunities?
Spending time thinking about these questions in great depth will give you plenty of leverage on yourself.
Unfortunately, pain is often a bigger motivator than pleasure. But if you can use the power of pain to your own advantage, you will give yourself plenty of reasons to move forward on your decisions.
3. Don’t lie to yourself
Everyone has things they tell themselves to prevent them from making decisions. “I don’t have enough experience,” “I will screw it up” or “It will be too much work” being the tip of the excuse iceberg. All of these excuses are rooted in fear. Either a fear of failure, fear of disappointment or even a fear of success (yes, it does exist).
It is important that you recognise what these fears are and how they manifest themselves in the form of your personal excuses. Sometimes the simple act of discovering that you have an irrational fear is enough to dismantle it. Other times more effort needs to be put into overcoming the fear. This is where tip 2 is very effective. By feeling the pain of indecision, the fear of actually making the decision pales in comparison.
Now, not everyone wants to be driven by fear or pain. In an ideal world, it is much more preferable to be driven by positive things than by the evasion of negative things. This is where visualisation comes into the mix.
Start by visualising the benefits of making the decision in great detail. For example, if making a business decision will ultimately enable you to go on holiday with your family, visualise the holiday. Visualise the locations you will visit in your mind, picture the faces of your loved ones as they experience this new location. Let the benefits consume you completely.
By focusing on the benefits of making a certain decision, your decision making process is no longer limited to choosing the lesser of two evils, but by being inspired by the joy of the better decision. Pain is a great motivator, but there needs to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
5. Change your state
Getting into “state” is a term coined by the famous motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Your “state” refers to both your mental and physical condition at any given moment. Being “in state” is being positive, focused and determined (it is also referred to being “in the zone”).
Being in state is incredibly important to making strong business decisions because you are a human being – which means that you are constantly changing.
But what does that have to do with anything?
When you are in state you make better decisions because you are not letting indecision and fear drive your life. The same rules apply for decision-making.
In order to make good decisions, you need to be in a positive state. This means more than just telling yourself, “I need to make the right decision. Come on! FOCUS!” It means changing your physiology. If you have ever seen the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team before a match, they do the Maori ceremonial dance The Haka. They scream, bang on their chest and psyche themselves up for the match. This is what getting into state is all about.
To get into state, you can listen to an inspirational song, do Power Movements (e.g. banging on your chest), or loudly proclaim some personal incantations. The most important thing about this tip is to move your body. Some of these things may sound strange, but being in state will always yield better decisions.
Making decisions can be difficult, but they are the most important aspect of your life. By controlling your decisions, you control the direction you and your business are heading.