You’re careful in your business, because you’re serious about it. You weigh things meticulously before making decisions, or maybe you even agonize over decisions, putting them off until you have just the right and perfect answer. And you probably think you’re doing the right thing.
But that caution in decision-making may be precisely what’s holding you back.
Decision-making isn’t a topic that’s talked about much, but it can have a whole lot of impact on your business.
Because business success is a continuum of decisions. Making decisions is the only way you can move forward.
Your entire life is based on your ability to make decisions quickly
Think about it this way—your entire life is made up of decisions. From the moment you open your eyes in the morning, you begin making decisions. You’ve gotten very good at making most of your everyday decisions, so you do them on autopilot—but they are still decisions.
You decide to get out of bed. You decide to eat breakfast. You decide to brush your teeth. You decide to shower and get dressed. You decide to work.
You don’t have to get out of bed, but you decide to. You don’t have to eat breakfast, and maybe you even decide not to. You decide to shower—certainly, you could decide not to. (Hopefully, if you decide not to, you work at home alone, like I do.)
And if you want to, you can break each of these decisions down into smaller decisions. You decide to get out of bed—but which side of the bed should you use? Should you slowly roll out, swing one leg over the edge (and which leg goes first?), or just pop straight up? Should you take a shower or a bath? Should you wash your hair? Which soap should you use? Eggs and toast, or just eggs? Or maybe cereal—but which cereal?
Of course I’m dragging this out to the ridiculous. And maybe you do, too. And if you do, if you have to stop and really think about all these details in the morning, it will take you forever to get going.
Well . . . ?
It’s the same for your business
What happens in your business when you drag out the details of every decision? Did you ever stop to think about that?
If you’re a perfectionist in your business (and we’ve talked before about how that might not be a good thing), you want to make perfect decisions, too. Which means you often put them off until you feel you’re doing just the right thing, meanwhile letting many opportunities pass you by. Or you may string the decisions out far too long by nit-picking the details, again missing opportunities to move forward.
The amazingly good thing about decisions is, if you make the wrong one, you can always make another one to correct it. This is not how most of us think about decisions—for some reason, we get all hung up, thinking that THIS decision is going to be the only one we’re going to be allowed to make. And it’s not true.
You can’t move forward if you don’t make a decision—good or bad, and fail once in awhile. (Remember, failure won’t kill you. It’s just information to let you know that particular thing is not the right thing, and you can try again.) And you certainly can’t move forward if you don’t make a decision at all.
Practice on the little stuff
Now I’m not talking about going out and making a big whopper decision on a whim that could have negative consequences—you know that, right? But I am talking about getting better at making big whopper decisions quickly by learning to make lesser decisions quickly, with practice. And paying attention to what happens.
My friend and colleague Jacqueline Sinfield often uses the “chicken or fish” example. When faced with a menu choice in a restaurant, in the large scope of things, does it really matter what you eat for lunch? After all, chances are good you’ll be eating lunch again tomorrow and the next day—it’s not like this is a life altering decision. This is a great opportunity to practice deciding “chicken or fish” quickly and then moving on.
Then notice—what happens as a result of making this decision quickly? Are there any adverse reactions for the rest of your day? Any positives, such as the opportunity to become involved in your lunch conversation sooner, and alleviate the stress of choosing?
Moving on to business, how about deciding which font to use in a layout or some other detail you think is important? Be honest, don’t details like that hang you up, sometimes for . . . well, you know it’s way too long. And let’s also be honest about how much it really matters, for the sake of your and your client’s businesses. Is it fear or perfectionism holding you up? Really take a look at these things.
Learning to make decisions quickly so you can move on creates momentum, builds confidence, lessens fear . . . and improves productivity. Which of course means profitability.
It’s okay to use your intuition in business decisions
We’re so practical in business, aren’t we? So practical that we often ignore one of our most powerful tools—our birthright, our intuition.
Here’s how Einstein put it:
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
So when you feel those little pings, and get those inklings, stop and listen. Is your intuition trying to help you make a decision?
Make decisions, move forward
Newton’s first law of motion states that an object is either at rest or in motion. You’ve heard that “a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest.” Making decisions quickly is the only way to keep your business in motion, moving forward. Putting off decisions or dragging them out puts your business at rest—and helps you stay stuck.