“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”
-Stephen R. Covey
Decisions. We all make them. From deciding what to wear to the office each day to choosing a new career path, we make choices every single day. How many times have we heard phrases like the following:
- The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
- Big risk can equal big reward.
- Hindsight is 20/20.
When you’re faced with a tough decision, do you let “what if”, fear-based thinking to creep in, or do you come at it from a balanced perspective, staying aligned with your values and vision?
In reality, we’ve probably all approached the decision-making process both ways during the course of a lifetime. Most of us don’t normally sweat the small stuff.
It’s the big “stuff” that counts – deciding whether to launch a new business, terminate a job, start (or end) a relationship, or move to a new location. Making decisions like these can stop even the most outwardly confident, successful people in their tracks.
As Forbes.com contributor Alex McClafferty so aptly states, “To solve difficult problems, you need to make difficult decisions.” Here are five helpful tips to help you navigate through the challenging decisions in your life:
- Analyze your values. Before jumping in to make any big decision, take a good, honest look at your values. The decision you ultimately make should be strongly aligned with your most important values, beliefs, and intentions. If you haven’t done so in a while, I suggest making a list of the values that are most significant to you. This outline can serve as a visual aid as you go through the decision-making process.
- Don’t put off tough conversations. In many cases, the decisions you make will impact other people – whether it’s your team at the office or family members at home. Have you been avoiding a difficult conversation – one that, although challenging, might provide you with greater insight and clarity into an issue? If so, have that conversation, no matter how difficult. Putting it off doesn’t solve anything, it’s unfair to you and the other person, and more than likely, will allow an issue to grow even bigger.
- Maintain focus on what really matters. Understand that no matter how much information you have – how many details you’ve gathered – there will always be more out there. Many of us get stuck in a trap of “When I get more info, I can make the decision”. It’s absolutely fine to gather data to make your decision – just don’t get so caught up that you become paralyzed by it. As Forbes.com contributor Alex McClafferty says, “You will never have complete data to make your decisions. This is OK.”
- Put things in perspective. Yes, hindsight is 20/20. But remember that most problems aren’t as bad as they seem. Make it a goal to maintain a positive mindset no matter what the outcome. Don’t become so personally invested in a decision that you lose your ability to choose objectively. If you feel yourself becoming too emotionally invested, consider consulting a trusted coach, mentor, or friend for an unbiased perspective (which is a good idea regardless).
- Set a date. It’s great to be able to tick those simple decisions off your to-do list and feel that satisfying sense of accomplishment for doing so. Big decisions aren’t usually made in a brief moment, but it doesn’t mean you can’t set a deadline for yourself. Set aside time each day to evaluate the pros and cons of your choices, and create a roadmap of milestones you can work toward achieving.
Remember that this is not an excuse for putting off a decision you should have made a long time ago. Think back to a time where you said, “I should have done this sooner.” If you know you need to handle something, do it. Now.
Outline your values, understand the risks involved with your decision, be objective, and maintain a confident, positive mindset as you make your choice. Every decision you make won’t be the “right one”, but you can learn from everything so you don’t make the same error again in the future.
Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Colleen Slaughter, Proud Executive Coach to the UN World Food Program, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
As an Executive Coach for Women in Leadership and Transformational Facilitator, my intention is to help leaders in positions of high influence to understand their worth at a profound level.
Supporting women leaders to truly thrive and step into their greatness, while succeeding in male-dominated industries and spaces is my native genius.
My technique and approach show you how to achieve incredible career success without compromising any part of who you are and what makes you magnificent.