We’re fast approaching the end of 2015. For some, the holiday mood has already begun, while others are in the midst of plotting out what 2016 will look like. During that process, it’s easy to fall into the trap of having too many options, particularly if you’re a solo-preneur like me. With control comes the responsibility of making decisions.
Not only are there the options available, but each have their own set of conditions that you’d be considering. Sorting out and deciding upon what to do becomes a headache. While there’s no perfect formula or pill to help with it, I’ve found that my stuck feelings come when there’s too much influence from external or internal sources. Much like when a car has drifted too much to the left or right of the road and begins to run on gravel. Here are a few questions that have helped push me toward the centre again.
Too much external influence
If you’re like me, it’s easy to drift into this area thanks to over-researching and over-thinking things. Say you’re considering a new business opportunity and are doing research on the market. You’re likely to be able to find many opinions around, both positive or negative. Even when trying your best to work with ‘data’ (vs subjective opinions) you’ll still running into camps for and against the idea.
Too much internal influence
On the other extreme is internal influence. Like it or not, we all have pre-existing ‘operating systems’ that we run on, but might not be aware of. These beliefs colour the way we look at anything. If you’re like me, slightly pessimistic and risk averse in general, you might skew towards too much self doubt. The opposite version of that is megalomania, where you believe that it is your destiny to succeed, in which case you wouldn’t have issues with making the decisions. Just the consequences.
A few steps to get you back on that road
Don’t make emotional decisions
This is for those of us that might make hasty decisions every now and then. While I believe in using emotions as a guide, I’ve also learned the hard way that heightened emotions are the worse state to be in when you’re making an important business decision. Acknowledge those feelings and note why you’re feeling that way. Let yourself calm down as you continue to gather more information and perspective.
What’s the worse case scenario?
It’s a great question that helps to remove some of the fear associated with making big decisions. Fear has a nasty way of lingering around, particularly if you’re suffering from a blow to your confidence or self esteem. I realised that many times (not all) it’s actually like being young and afraid of shadows. Our general fear fogs the mind, only to clear when you really scrutinise it. By looking at what is the worse that could happen objectively, you’d be surprised to see that it’s far from being life threatening!
What can I gain from taking action regardless of the outcome?
If you’re afraid of taking action because you’re unsure of it being the ‘right choice’ or just don’t want to waste time, money or resources, this is the question for you. Whatever decision that you take will bring you its own range of experiences, each with their own learning opportunities. In itself lies a decision whether to approach it as a learning opportunity, or to let it pass you by without notice.
What are you leaning towards emotionally?
When you noted your emotions earlier, how did you feel? Was it anticipation and excitement? Was it fear or greed? It’s likely to be a mixture of each, but they would culminate in a yes or no decision at the end, which can be hard to decipher! One neat trick is to flip a coin. It’s not to let fate decide, but for you to notice what outcome you were hoping for as the coin fell. While rough, it can be enough to add a little clarity.
Break the decision into baby steps and take action
It finally comes to the point where you’ve got to make a decision and take action. There’s a strange and irrational belief that takes over sometimes. “If I do this, there’s no going back!” Guess what? Most of our decisions are rarely cast in stone, and aren’t life commitments we can’t turn back from. To make things easier, break those decisions into smaller bite sized chunks, and just take one step at a time. As you move and build momentum, more clarity will come.
The bigger the decision, the more complex it can become and scarier too. Even if we don’t act, it’s a decision in itself. As you prep for a better 2016, I hope these steps help you take action. What are some of your own methods?