Making Difficult Decisions
When you find you can’t make a decision, 99% of the time it’s fear that’s standing in your way.
Some people have no trouble with problem solving and decision making. Seemingly free of doubt, they take some of the hardest decisions to make in stride. It appears as if making tough decisions is a part of their DNA.
For the rest of us, the process of making difficult decisions and wanting to make the right choice can create sleepless nights filled with anxiety and smother us in self-doubt.
We brutalize our brains, and our bodies feel the pain.
Frustrated by our own indecision, we put our heads in our hands and ask no one, “Why can’t I just make a decision?!”
The answer is equal parts simple and complex.
We want to make the best decision but fear the consequences of making a bad decision.
How to move beyond fear and make a choice
David Meltzer is an entrepreneur, CEO, author, and keynote speaker. This week, he returns to Stay Paid as one of Luke’s and Josh’s most popular guests to talk, in part, about fear and decision making under uncertainty.
Every Friday, David provides free live training to 20,000 people in a weekly Zoom webinar series he calls Road to Revenue and Happiness. Each week features a different topic and offers pragmatic strategies listeners can implement to achieve their goals.
David also hosts The Playbook podcast.
It’s a mix of interviews, Q&A, conversations, and keynotes with influential CEOs, sports icons, and successful entrepreneurs. His guests share their personal and professional “play-by-play of the ‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ to achieve anything you set your mind to.”
To make a tough decision, whether it’s decision making in business (should I lay off 15% of my staff?) or making choices in life (should we have a baby?) David offers four steps:
- Take time out of the equation
- Complete your due diligence
- Listen to your intuition
- Accept uncertainty
You can listen to the episode and hear David talk about all four steps. Here we’ll look at the first: take time out of the equation.
Take time out of the equation
About halfway through the interview, Luke asks:
How do you deal with the difference between am I just fearful because I’m afraid of failing, am I wise because I’m taking my time and I gotta to do my due diligence . . . how do you work through that process?
There is a difference between the stopping power of fear and the time it takes to gather and analyze facts before deciding on a course of action.
You probably already know this, but sometimes we prolong our research because we fear we don’t have enough information to move forward.
David agrees it can be difficult to reconcile the two. And the process can feel counter-intuitive, especially when you have a gut feeling that runs counter to an analysis of the facts.
For David, the notion that we need to make a decision at some point, and that point is getting ever closer, creates resistance. And while some people thrive under pressure and are motivated by the fear of looming deadlines, that fear doesn’t inspire us—”it sucks our souls dry of its energy.”
So, like most of what David shares during the conversation, his answer to the problem is both philosophical and pragmatic: do your due diligence, but then take time out of the equation.
Time, he says, is what creates the fear that can prolong our agony and indecisiveness.
He’s learned that if he takes time out of the equation, he can determine where he is on the spectrum—from fact finding and analysis to intuition, faith, and gut feelings.
To get there, he asks himself, “If I knew 100% that I had a billion lifetimes to live, would I still make this decision now?”
Learning to make a decision without the influence of time allows you to blend the influence of faith, intuition, and gut feelings together with your analysis. Then admit that outcomes are always uncertain and make the decision.
Follow David’s advice and, he says, you’ll make “statistically successful decisions.”
- Focus on the opportunities that change creates rather than on the uncertainty.
- Rather than feel like you have to, experience feeling good because you get to.
- When confronted by change, take an inventory of what you can control.
- You can make difficult decisions if you take time out of the equation, do your due diligence, listen to your intuition, accept uncertainty.
- Embrace and be inspired by the difference between time and speed.
Take an inventory of your values—determine what’s important to you, what you believe, what you want. Then apply the Law of G.O.Y.A. to manifest those things. You’ll complete 100% of what you do now.
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