Do you procrastinate on making decisions? How's that working for you, hmm? Do you know exactly what it's costing you?
Decision-making can weigh heavily on the mind of a busy entrepreneur. I've had days when there is so much on my mind that I can't decide what to wear in the morning because it meant making yet another decision.
Sometimes I wish that a wardrobe dilemma could be the most important thing I would face in the day ahead, but we all know that the creative entrepreneurial mind would never be happy if life didn't offer its many challenges.
As we enter into the New Year it's a good time to re-evaluate your past decisions, learn from them, and make new ones. It's a time for reflection; time for taking an honest look at your life, business, and dreams. Yet with daily commitments bogging down our brains, how can we be certain that we are making sound decisions? Is it sometimes better to make no decision at all? Well, actually, probably not.
The fear of making a poor choice often leads to procrastination or indefinitely putting off decision-making. This avoidance can easily escalate out of control, creating an overwhelmed sense of being and a significantly underwhelmed bank account. What we need is a little assurance that we are making the "right" choice--or as close as possible. To achieve this, I like to weigh all of the factors that go into my decisions. (My clients find this process useful as well so give it a try and let me know what you think!)
Do this exercise on paper with a pen or pencil, not on your computer. Why? Because it's best to engage both the right and left side of your brain during this process. Using the computer heavily engages the left, logical side of the brain, whereas writing by hand will help to pull in the right, creative, emotional side of your brain. We want all of our human qualities involved when weighing in on our decisions. Here we go...
1.Create two columns on your paper with room for a sentence or two at the top.
2.Label your first column "Driving Forces" and the second "Repelling Forces." These represent what we call your toward and away values; the things that pull you toward something and those that push you away.
3.Above your columns write a sentence or two about the first decision that you need to make. For example: "Do I take the financial risk of hiring a sales person this year?"
4.Now, in your first column list all of the things that are driving you toward hiring a sales person.
5.In the second column list all of the reasons that are pushing you away from hiring a sales person. Include all of your fears, doubts and logical concerns.
6.Here's where the weighing process comes in. When you are done with your lists go back and weigh each pro and con by giving it a rating between 1 to 10, with 10 being very strong and 1 being very weak. So one of your statements might look something like this:
Driving Forces: The person I have in mind for this job has a history of increasing sales for past employers by up to 300 percent. (I would give this a ten!)
Repelling Forces: This person wants an annual base pay of $50,000 plus 13 percent of all sales. I'm not sure I can afford this. What number would you give this statement? Since my statement shows uncertainty around my ability to pay the base wage, but there is a strong possibility that the new sales rep will bring an increase in sales within three months, I would give this a seven--hypothetically speaking.
7.Now add each column of numbers, placing your totals at the bottom of each side. Which column carries more weight? Voila! Your decision is made!
Another benefit of doing this exercise is its power to help you recognize that some of your repelling forces are fear-based and do not carry as much weight when you look at the entire reality of your situation. This is not to say that your fears are not real, but fear often keeps us from looking at the big picture. In this process you will work through those fears by identifying all of the facts.
What decisions face you in 2012? Is it time for a significant change? Don’t procrastinate! Try this exercise and let me know how it helps!
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka