"Sorry. We're not interested."

Those words hit like a ton of bricks. My one-man company wasn't going anywhere; I had spent days going door-to-door pitching my services--in the hopes that someone, anyone, would give me a chance.

So after getting turned down for what felt like the thousandth time, I was frustrated. Disappointed.  


How in the world could I keep going?

The truth is, I didn't know. I had to face the fact that maybe the best course of action was to go find a "normal" job, and give up my idea of starting a business. 

On the other hand, this wasn't the first time I was forced to make a difficult decision in the face of adversity. And time and again, I've been reminded of small piece of wisdom:

Never make a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.   

This simple rule of decision-making is founded on principles of emotional intelligence, the ability to understand and manage emotions. After a good night's sleep, I had newfound confidence and enthusiasm. And while things didn't turn around that week, they did turn around--leading to a successful business that's going strong, nearly a decade later.

So, how can you apply this "decision rule" in your work and life?

Here are a few ways:

Never make a major decision at night.

After a long, emotionally draining day, it can be especially challenging to make a decision. The smallest of tasks appear unmanageable. The light at the end of the tunnel has gone dark.  

But a good night's sleep can work wonders. The problems are still there, but mountains have become molehills. 

Never make a major decision after a bad day.

Everyone has a bad day from time to time. And when you do, you'll be naturally more prone to focus on the negative things happening. It's all too easy to feel like bad things always happen to you, and to forget that things aren't normally like this.

So, if you're having a bad day--or even a bad week or month--try your best to stick it out. Because so many give up when success lies just around the corner.

Never make a major move after vacation.

Conversely, a really good mood can also cloud your thinking.

For example, have you ever come back from a great trip, thinking it's time to move? That's not necessarily a bad thing. There are times when moving is a good idea--but it's important to remember:

Vacation life does not equal normal life.

You can take this principle and apply it to anytime you're in an exuberant mood. When things are going very well, it's easy to overcommit or make decisions you later regret.

To combat that, try to make major decisions only when you're feeling balanced emotionally--not overly down, but also not too high.

Never make a major decision when you're tired or hungry.

Research shows that people tend to get more critical and make more mistakes toward lunchtime and the end of the workday. 

For example, one study showed that judges granted 65 percent of requests they heard at the beginning of the day, and almost none when it was close to lunchtime. After a break, approvals jumped back up to 65 percent.

So, if you're getting close to quitting time, take a break before making a decision. Otherwise, you risk missing an opportunity, or destroying it.

Never make a major purchase before thinking it over.

I can't tell you how many business purchases I've made because I thought they'd solve a problem I was dealing with at that moment, without realizing "the problem" was only temporary, or that there was a more effective solution available for a better price.

Of course, it can be challenging for small business owners to find time to thoroughly research purchases. But making a general rule (like waiting one to three months) before hitting the buy button will afford you the time to consider alternative solutions. And that extra budget can make a huge difference in the long run.

So, the next time you're tempted to make a major decision when you're in your feelings, remember:

Never make a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.   

It'll help you turn from being simply emotional to being emotionally intelligent.

(If you enjoyed this article, be sure to sign up for my free emotional intelligence course, where each day for 10 days you get a rule designed to help you make emotions work for you, instead of against you.)