5 Steps to (Almost) Fearless Decisions

Stuck in Neutral

Making decisions seems to be a sticking point for most people. And the higher the stakes involved, the harder it is to choose an action. Simply put, most of us treat decisions as stopping points rather than turning points.

And the bigger the decision, the bigger the stop. But why?

Again, it’s simple. We fear making mistakes. Sooner or later, the fear of taking a wrong turn may paralyze you and hold you locked in place, unable to move forward.

Even if you’re usually a decisive person, some choices simply don’t have obvious answers. So we stop and “mull things over” for a while.

If you’ve ever waffled and hesitated over a decision because you weren’t sure which direction was the winner, don’t despair. It happens to everybody sooner or later.

Here are five tips for making decisions more easily:

TIP 1. Make a Quick List of Pluses and Minuses

Sometimes it’s just a matter of weighing the options and choosing what seems best under the present circumstances.

Will this always give you the perfect answer? No, nothing is perfect, but it’ll usually help you move in the right direction.

In addition, once you’re under way again, that list will give you a more complete understanding of the overall situation you’re dealing with.

TIP 2. Ask Your Friends for Advice

This is a variation on the Master Mind Group method. Go to a few of your friends who have more experience than you in the area you’re trying to deal with. Tell them what you’re trying to accomplish and ask for their input. Another person can often see your situation more accurately than you can.

Of course you want to do this step right. Only talk with people who know what they’re talking about. You can safely ignore advice from friends who seem to always try and hold you back because of jealousy or pettiness. Especially important — never ask advice from a person who has never done much of anything, but has loud opinions about everything.

TIP 3. Do the Safe Thing

Making decisions when you’re bored and looking for change just for the sake of change, or when you’re feeling desperate — well, those are high-risk situations. You should always try to have a good, solid reason for every decision you make. And wishing or hoping something “will work out somehow” doesn’t qualify.

Let’s say a friend comes to you and claims he has an opportunity — a sure thing — and he’ll “let” you invest your life’s savings in it. My advice is, back off. There are absolutely no sure things in life. But if you sort through all available options, some will be safer. Often it’s obvious: Most times your best bet is the safe bet.

TIP 4. Do the Thing You’ve Never Done Before

There are other times, however, when the safe bet leads you nowhere. If everything you’ve tried has produced no results (or the wrong results), it’s time to do something different. Make some jarring, daring changes. But be prepared for an exciting. maybe even a bit scary, ride.

Please understand — this is almost never your first option. It’s more like sending in the turnaround specialist when a company is circling the drain. It’s more drastic than you’d usually want, but sometimes big changes are exactly what are called for.

When that time comes, just grab your personal parts and dive in. Then work like crazy to keep up with the changes you’ve started.

TIP 5. Toss a Coin

Occasionally you just won’t know which direction to take. All the available options seem equal, and you honestly aren’t sure which is best. The advice from your friends or business associates leaves you undecided. Furthermore, your “gut feelings” don’t seem to have a strong preference.

If the various choices are really that equal, then it doesn’t much matter, so throw a dart, or toss a coin. In any case, stay in motiion; don’t stop. Keep yourself moving.

The Real Objective

Remember, the real purpose of decision-making is to keep you moving forward, not to be right 100% of the time.

It has been said that if you’re moving forward, even if it’s in the wrong direction, you’re better off than the guy who’s standing still. Keep moving and you can always adjust your direction. You don’t want to be the guy in the stalled car, because nobody can change direction when standing still.

Virtually any method you choose for making your decisions is more powerful than indecision. More importantly, as you learn to make decisions more quickly, you’ll join the ranks of top leaders. According to studies, failures make decisions slowly and change them often. On the other hand, leaders make decisions quickly and change them seldom.

There you have them — five methods for gaining a powerful, new executive skill. Use them and prosper.

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