Making decisions is something we do every day. Entrepreneurs, however, often have to make even more decisions than the average person, and their choices may have far-reaching effects and implications. It’s no wonder that many of us feel anxious when it comes down to making an important decision.
Members of the Forbes Coaches Council share their best advice on working around the negative parts of decision-making. The answers indicate that letting go and trusting yourself can be just as helpful as weighing the pros and cons.
1. Find A Way To Become Calm
While anxiety plays an important evolutionary role in keeping us safe from mistakes and harm, too much anxiety interferes with performance and decision making. Rather than trying to suppress emotions, which is not only ineffective but may harm us, we must work to calm the body and brain. Only then can we effectively examine pros and cons and make a better decision. – Christine Allen, Ph.D., Insight Business Works
2. Use Multiple-Choice Methodology
In multiple-choice tests, you can pick from a number of answers but there is only one best answer. For this scenario, “all of the above” or “none of the above” categories won’t work. Have that someone who has been suffering come to you with three choices and have them pick one “best answer” and defend it. You can see their thought process, and you’ve made them decide but not abandon all their ideas. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
3. Get Crystal Clear On Your Evaluation Criteria
Evaluate opportunities using criteria that you determine is important to you, based on your values and your goals. Develop a scoring system to evaluate each activity, task or opportunity as it relates to your evaluation criteria. While the final scores are important, it is the process that is the most telling, because you will discover what is important and what isn’t, and that will be your guide. – Michela Quilici, MQ Consulting and Business Training, Inc.
4. Find The Opposite Energy
Critical thinking can go into overdrive with “analysis paralysis.” The easiest way to overcome this is to utilize a different energy/strength that is natural for you but can also help you pull the trigger. Are you energized by having a results focus? Do you like to initiate (take independent action to get things done)? Is courage natural for you? When you’re stuck in one energy, find an opposite one to use that can help yield a decision. – Cha Tekeli, Chalamode, Inc.
5. Build Your Action Muscle
Taking action is like a muscle that needs development over time. Start small, give yourself a limited timeframe to research your options, and then act. Notice what happens and adjust if needed. Once you realize most worst-case scenarios don’t happen, your confidence will grow, and it will become easier to take action. Clarity comes from action, so trust yourself and make a choice. – Jean Ali Muhlbauer, The Muhlbauer Companies, LLC
6. Set A Timeline And A Deadline
Create a timeline and deadline for making the decision. When there’s a timeline set for research and exploration focused on the ideal outcome, the result is that leaders have a great amount of information at hand to make the best choices. This sets the foundation for making the decision with extensive knowledge of the project. Having a deadline limits potential decision anxiety. – Frances McIntosh, Intentional Coaching LLC
7. Implement Somatic Decision Making
Stand still. Breathe. Ask yourself a few factual questions like, “Is my name Bob?” Notice which way your body moves. Yes and no will become obvious after a few questions; your body will sway a little either forward or backward. After you have the yes and no sway deciphered, ask yourself the big question. Your intuition will guide your body toward the yes or no. – Hanna Hermanson, Dream Life is Real Life
8. Stay On Mission
There is really only one tool required in decision making: the mission (or goal). With the mission in mind, ask yourself, “Does this action/direction move me closer to achieving my mission?” If the answer is no, then no further analysis is required. Simply move on to the next task or decision. If the answer is yes, ask, “Do I have or can I get the resources I need to do it?” If yes, then execute. – Niquenya Collins, Building Bridges Consulting
9. Clarify The Consequences
Decision-making anxiety comes from fear of making the wrong choice and suffering the consequences. The more importance you lend to a decision, the more paralyzing it feels. Decrease the level of importance by realizing that there are no wrong decisions, only the consequences that come with them. Listing the consequences of both making and not making a particular decision will clarify your choice. – Masha Malka, The One Minute Coach
10. Trust Your Intuition
In decision making, it is beneficial to be able to predict the likely consequences (positive and negative), both immediately and further down the line. Positive and negative consequences arise from any decision. “Weighing up” of these consequences is a useful guide to how you might proceed. Current research also confirms the value of intuition across multiple domains. So, if in doubt, trust your gut. – Mike Weeks, Frontline Mind
11. Make It On Paper
The No. 1 thing that prevents people from making decisions is fear about whether they’re making the right decision or not. You must get the thoughts out of your head and write down (1) the result you really want; (2) the choices you have to get that result; and (3) the pros and cons of each option. By writing this all on paper and getting it out of your head, you will stay clear and out of overwhelm. – Ashley Good, Ashley Good Coaching & Consulting
12. Know Your Values
Create a matrix list of common and difficult decision scenarios down one vertical side with another list of your core values across the top. Then, take some time to think through your response to each scenario and write it down in the spaces between. Go back through and check how well they align with your values. This way, you alleviate the anxiety because you have thought it through in advance. – Julianne Cenac Ph.D., The Leader Channel
13. Try Vision-Based Decision Making
The decision-making process can be daunting for those without an effective process for making great decisions. One of the easiest ways for leaders to make great decisions is to ask this simple question: “Will this decision help me achieve my company’s vision?” If the answer is yes, move forward with confidence. If the answer is no, continue to search for a better alternative. – Dr. Stephen Kalaluhi, The StephenK Leadership Team