Wednesday, August 5, 2009

5 Ways to Make the Hard Decisions a Little Easier

"Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision."

- Peter Drucker

5 Ways to Make the Hard Decisions a Little Easier

How often have you tossed and turned with an important decision but failed to act because you felt like your feet were locked in cement, at night it feels as though your backbone is chewing on your stomach, you don't decide, you worry, you delay important decision making even though this one failure to decide will adversely your life and business?

How about that long-term employee whose performance has headed south, but you procrastinated out of loyalty. But you know you have to do something about this problem, but your procrastination wins out and your agony continues.

How about getting the help you need to get your business on track? You fret over the costs yet you know you will easily earn it back in no time with the right resource and guidance?

This is about those "tough" decisions" - the kind we all struggle with.

It seems to be easier to keep putting them off... but that just prolongs the discomfort.

Whenever I've had a decision weighing on my mind, it's kept nagging at me. But when I finally made the hard call, it was never as bad as I had worked it up to be. In fact, I've found that the longer you chew on it, the worse it gets.

Thinking back, there are two vivid examples that spring to mind...

Breaking Away From My Business...

One of the biggest decisions I ever had to make was whether or not to sell my contracting business. It had been my life-long dream to own a successful contracting business, to make lots of money and then be able to walk away.

However, when the first opportunity presented itself, I clearly stonewalled the decision until the interested parties gave up and walked away. But then, I remember my attorney telling me something that stuck clearly in my mind.

"Construction businesses are generally worthless and they end up in the same place. The contractors have to work until they die and are buried, or they leave the business to their kids and they drive them into the ground, either way, the business ends up in the ground! You have something of value and taking advantage of the opportunity you now have is the right thing to do."

That's when I started experimenting with what I am doing today.

Looking back, it was by far the best decision I ever made for my future.

Uncovering the Proven Business Model...

To get my speaking and coaching business off the ground, I started learning a lot about the speaking business. And then I decided to get down to business and make it work, no more dabbling. I boldly called a speaker who I had heard speak and had read his books. His name was Paul Karasik. I asked him if I could follow him around the country and help him at my own expense just so I could learn the in's and out's of the business. I wanted him to be my mentor. He agreed and I started my journey on becoming a first-class speaker and sought after business coach to contractors.

I also attended many seminars of other speakers, buying their books and tapes. I can remember my ex-wife commenting that I was foolishly throwing money away but I wasn't, I was absorbing the inside information to be successful at what I wanted to do.

I didn't procrastinate, I persisted. I bit the bullet and went. Another tough - but a smart - decision.

Frankly, if I had listened to my ex-wife, I know I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today. I can directly trace the moment when everything "clicked" for me and I "got it" from all that hard up-front work. That's when I discovered the power of doing it correctly and not wasting my time trying to make something that couldn't work, work.

I've found that people regret things they don't do much more than things they do. That's not how I want to live my life - brooding over "shouldas" "couldas" or "wouldas."

In fact, I believe that most of our "tough" decisions aren't really so tough. But the longer it takes for us to get off the fence and take action, the more we magnify them in our own heads.

With that in mind, here are five simple things to try when you are having trouble making a decision:

Decision-Making Method #1: Think about the worst-case scenario.

What is the worst possible thing that can happen if you make the wrong decision? It almost certainly won't happen - but even if it does, you can probably live with it.

Decision-Making Method #2: Listen to your gut.

This is huge! Don't try to rationalize your way out of making the decision. You've got good instincts. Take advantage of them. Make YOUR OWN DECISION! Listen but do not allow others to persuade you otherwise. They are not living your life, you are.

Decision-Making Method #3: Give yourself a deadline.

If you give yourself an indefinite amount of time to decide on a course of action, you'll never do it. Not to mention, you'll drive yourself crazy! Think of yourself as the high-powered CEO of your own life - an executive who MUST make decisions quickly. Actions love success and never forget that!

Decision-Making Method #4: Visualize your ideal outcome.

This is an exercise I learned from John Harricharan. He calls it the "Power Pause." It takes three minutes - one minute to think about what you want to happen... one minute to think about how good you'll feel when it does happen... and one minute to calm yourself down by thinking about what you are already grateful for in your life.

Decision-Making Method #5: The Band-Aid solution.

You know how painful it can be to pull off a bandage (especially for those of us who are kind of hairy)? Well, the secret is to pull it off quickly. Nothing is worse than paralysis by analysis. You'll never have all the information you need to make the perfect decision. Do the best you can with what you've got. Then move on.

And here's a bonus tip: When all else fails, flip a coin. That's how I've decided many a decision!

There you go - all that angst and gut-wrenching turmoil can be avoided simply by making the decision.

May the decision-making force be with you!

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