Make Better Decisions in Just 3 Steps
Entrepreneurs make decisions every day that may impact the future success of their start-up. Beyond business, everyone makes daily decisions that affect every aspect of life. But how often do we really think about our decisions?
Everyday, it’s estimated that we make at least 35,000 conscious decisions. But how many of those are on autopilot and how many are purposeful?
While most of us simply go with the flow and make the same decisions on the fly, there are those select few who focus on how to make decisions to get what they really want.
Let’s set the stage.
Say you know that you want to do X, but your strategy isn’t going as planned. Maybe you don’t have enough money. Maybe you can’t quit your day job. Maybe you’re not reaching a goal you really want to reach. Maybe your top client wants six months for free, but if you give it to them, you set the precedent that your time isn’t worth Y.
If you make the wrong decision, your client may walk, you could put your livelihood at stake, or you’d be taking too large of a risk. Instead of weighing pros and cons to an obsessive degree, simply pause, calibrate, and focus on the right awareness and mindset.
Remember to ask yourself with every important decision: what is my desired outcome? Let’s use the client wanting more work for free. In this situation, ask yourself: What does the client mean to your bottom line? What happens if you say no and lose them? Are you being influenced by the last decision you made or are you entering this decision with no cognitive bias?
I talk a lot about getting to the bottom of what you really want, and more specifically, how. To make better decisions, you must follow three easy steps:
Calibrate your attention (ditch all the unnecessary worries or what ifs)
Focus on the desired outcome (what is it you really want out of making the decision?)
Make a purposeful decision (stop making decisions on autopilot and tune into what you really want)
I’ve used these three strategies over the years, both for business and in my personal life-especially with my kids. Take my son, for instance. He’s fourteen and wants to be a basketball player. He strives to make his high school team, which isn’t easy in Chicago. He knows he has to practice the fundamentals before he can become an expert.
After a long day of work, as tired as I am, I usually end up in the alley working with him. Telling him to square his body to the net, keep his elbows in, all the basics. We go through tons of drills. Often, we walk into the house after the sun has set, and I know we’ve made progress. Not so much that he will be an all star basketball player tomorrow, but I know he has learned the value of hard work, practice, and commitment. I want him to know the difference between life values and physical skills, because there’s definitely a difference.
Fast forward to one of his basketball games. After the second quarter, I start to get frustrated. He’s not doing anything we practiced. (And it’s killing me.) I start to bubble with a host of emotions. I want to scream: “Max, square up your body, keep your elbows in!” I’m thinking, what the hell? All that work and he’s doing it all wrong! I’m there to remind him of all that we’ve worked on.
Then I realize if I apply my three steps above, I can tell my attention is inappropriate. My emotions are taking over. Actually, my body is telling me how I’m feeling. My fists are clenched. I’m sitting at the edge of my seat. I’m projecting a lot on the situation that is not true. Now is the perfect time to calibrate my attention. I take five slow breaths and relax my body. I realize this is his game, not mine. Instantly, I am aware of my attention.
Then, I ask: what is my desired outcome? Does my son score a few more points, or do I teach him important life lessons through sports? Well, that’s easy. My desired outcome as a parent is to teach him a life lesson, something that will stay with him all his life (versus his stats showing he had eight points and two rebounds in a middle school game against Lakeview Fig Trees). If I scream from the stands, I will have the exact opposite effect.
So I align with my purpose to be a dad who teaches life lessons. And I make a purposeful decision to sit back and enjoy the fact that I have a healthy son doing something he loves to the best of his ability at that very moment.
Because it is his moment, not mine.
Whether you are making decisions that are yours or attempting to make decisions for other people, make them purposeful. Don’t just decide, hope for the best, and then often look back or wonder if the grass is greener.
Be intentional. Have a strategy for your decision-making, especially when it comes to the important ones. Know when to step back and when to push forward.
The better you become at making purposeful decisions, the better you will become at living a more intentional life.
It’s all about purpose.
This story originally appeared in Thrive Global on June 29, 2019.